“I’m afraid you’re on a 45 day a billing cycle…” Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Photo on 9-10-12 at 7.02 PMI was interested in a thread on a Facebook magic page yesterday and enjoyed adding some comments on it. Reflecting on it today and observing the direction the thread moved in, I decided it might make a rather interesting column that would contain some material that would be of some interest to our readers.

The original online question was from a performer who had appeared at a corporate event and more than 45 days later was still waiting to receive his paycheck. He wasn’t sure how to proceed. He was booked through an agent and his contract stated payment would be made within 1 week of when HE (the agent) was paid. The agent said he would look into it, however he says that the client’s policy is 45 days. Well I can see why the magician was, in his words “pissed” and I offered some thoughts based on my own experiences that I thought might be useful to him.

I am a great believer in a performer being paid on and before the actual event of his show, because any urgency over his paycheck slips away dramatically immediately after he has performed. The biggest single problem in this case is that the performer signed a contract with very vague specifications built into the heart of it. There are plenty of people (both clients, agents and venues) who are more than happy to hang on to our fairly modest paychecks and let them reside in their own bank accounts for an extra couple of months accumulating interest. However, I very strongly believe that in “one off” casual dates the performers salary should be on a “do the show and get the check” basis.

Like many other performers I believe in a 50% payment for your services as a retainer to reserve the date, and the remainder Nick-31payable immediately prior to performance. This is a very reasonable way of doing business and almost always acceptable to buyers. If it isn’t something your buyer wants to work with, you can certainly make exceptions should you choose to do so. What it does do is establish the correct relationship between yourself and the person utilizing you services. It is certainly not an unreasonable request and will usually be accepted without any hesitation. One very positive benefit is that if a buyer cancels their date, thus depriving you of your booking, you have received a fair compensation for blocking of that particular date. Should the date be shifted to another night then you are quite free to apply their deposit towards the new booking.

Assuming you are a competent and professional performer do NOT fall into the trap of feeling that a buyer is doing you some huge favor in booking you. You must handle the business side of your bookings in a straightforward, friendly and firm manner. These are simple business transactions and establish the way you wish to be regarded and treated during the engagement. This is what contracts, or as I prefer to call them letters of agreement, are all about.

The purpose of your “contract” should cover the amount and manner of your salary and what services you are going to provide your buyer. You must also make very clear the where, what, when and who’s of that particular engagement. One of the additional details that I personally like to have clearly established in the agreement is also how many people will be present at the show. Agents are rather fond of establishing a fee for a “small” show and it can be a little disconcerting to turn up at that gig and find 2000 people dining in a banquet room!

NL LemonAidcover-2 I was rather surprised at the online debate over this all to frequent problem over late payment for a date. Some of the responses were totally ignored the fact that the details of payment were clearly established in the contract! The time to cope with this kind of situation is in advance and not after the event. From my, not inconsiderable, experience it is almost always wasted effort, energy and cash to try and pursue any legal solution to a minor contractual dispute. It is wiser to write it off and make sure you learn from the situation. This is what led to my previously stated payment policy, which is one I have never had occasion to regret!

Other online voices suggested bringing the matter to the attention of the client and venue and voicing to them your personal problems with the agent. I think this is probably ineffective, definitely inappropriate and fairly likely to reflect just as badly on the performer as the agent, everyone else involved may love dealing with that same person who has “pissed you off” The agreement signed was between two parties and does not reflect the actions or intentions of any of the accessories to the contract. You don’t want to loose a potential client or venue over problems with the agent you chose to do business with. Sometimes you have to loose a battle or two while going about the business of winning a war.

 As a shout out to my readers I want to tell you about a wonderful new magic effect “Lemon Aid” that is currently available on my web site www.lewinenterprises.com I hope you will view the video and check it out! I have only 22 left for sale from the initial run and when they are gone “Lemon Aid” will only be available at a higher price as a special order.

~ by Nick Lewin on September 12, 2014.

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