I decided to write this article because I have received several emails as of late, requesting help with lack of payment and what to do about. I’ve even been on the phone with a few of my fellow distraught artists to talk them off the ledge. It is a mind blowing experience when you work so hard and all you expect is pay–and nothing comes. You know when I first started working in the field of “Beauty” I found that some people had no “beauty” to them at all. It seems–still to this day artists across the country–hell the world keeps getting ripped off and really its time for us to WAKE UP!!!!!!!
“RULES TO LIVE BY–OR YOU’LL STARVE!”
GET IT IN WRITING
It is THE most important rule to remember. Never let anyone play games with you and your pay. Many people try and do the bait and switch. They will always want to call you to discuss money but never seem to get around to confirm the pay via email. OR the ones that tell you one thing –again–over the phone, you think all is good. When it comes time to pay you the rate discussed you might receive something like this. Oh didn’t someone tell you we had to cut the budget so everyone (meaning you) took a cut. Sorry you didn’t get the call. Huh-Hhnnn
As entrepreneurs we are all responsible for EVERYTHING! It can become overwhelming and the chase to get paid can really wear you out. If we as a community keep allowing people/companies to use our services without any repercussion this practice will continue. As the much beloved Barney Fife says “Nip it in the Bud” (old Mayberry reference lol) don’t allow anyone to get over on you–ever. Cut them off before they try to be shady with you. A lot of times people like to test your business savvy and see how much they can get over. If they feel like you take control of your business the more respect and the less shady people may become.
One of the ways around this is when someone calls you with a job and a quote you can send them an email saying: As per our conversation today (insert date) for the job of XXXXX the offer of $$$ is acceptable and the terms of payment xxxx is as well. Please reply to this email to confirm our conversation.
There are two things that may happen. 1) they email you right back and say –yes it is fine 2) they call you right back to discuss your email again and reassure you the gig is fine. Well the latter doesn’t work for me and I feel a little shady-ness a foot. To me that is a huge red flag.
DON’T BE SCARED
I know many people–especially new artists have heard of being blacklisted in this business if you speak up. That normally keeps everyone quiet and I’m here to tell you that is all bullish*T. It happened to me and I’m still alive. I assisted someone and it took me about 6 months to get paid. Y’all I had to hunt her down, even calling her agent. She did pay me eventually, but then she proceeded to delete me from everything and never spoke to me again. At first I was like dayum weren’t you the one who owed me. BUT now I realize her doing that was a blessing because she was shady as hell. So don’t let the threat of some funky retaliation get to you. Those shady people are not worth your time.
I say sue them. When you take someone to small claims court it is a commitment of your time but it is so worth it. I have had to do it and there’s nothing better then to see the other side lose. When I suggest this I get answers like -well DeShawn, I don’t want to have them/the company upset with me. HUH? Don’t they owe you money? Now believe me I do have a grace period as long as I’m dealing with someone within the company to resolve the issues. BUT there will be times no one will return a call, a text, a tweet, nothing but then what do you do? If you don’t take legal action you have just worked for free–actually you just paid them for the job–when it comes to your gas, tolls, trains, your time, a babysitter etc. You can also hire a collection service to get you your money (for a fee). It is better then not getting anything
KEEP A FILING SYSTEM
Remember the best way to win your case is to again get everything in writing and always create a chain of written communication. Whether its a text or an email it is admissible in court. Don ‘t forget to take pictures of not only your work but of the venue, people on set etc. It is to show a court (down the line) the gig actually existed and you were actually there working. Make sure all photos are time stamped correctly as well. Lastly in CYA world, (oh that’s corporate America speak for –cover your ass) you save all documents especially a call sheet, and all written correspondence. Get into the habit of printing out all emails and information for a job and keeping it in a folder–yes print out text as well. My Yahoo got hacked that was where I stored all my email info, and then my phone died and I lost a lot of info–print it out!
Don’t get lazy when it comes to this. I will admit at times I can become a little backed up with this practice due to my work schedule. I have acquired the App Invoice Maker and now as soon as I am done I can send my invoice asap.
PUT A CLAUSE ON IT
What did Beyonce say–if you like then you should have put a ring on it. Well my fabulous people if you want to protect yourself you better put “a clause on it.”
On your invoice you should put a clause on it that says: Payment is due by the terms on this invoice and if not received by the due date you will add a 2% fee on any outstanding payment. Also any and all court fees associated with acquiring pay is to be paid by them
SET YOUR ALARM When it comes to getting paid I literally set my alarm a day in advance notifying me the check should be here the next day. If it is not then I call immediately. You cannot let it wait–especially if the client is new. At times you may have to reproduce all your information to their accounting department to prove work, always have that handy. You want to get paid asap.
Normal wait time for payment is 30 days. You can negotiate a better turn around time for payment. For some jobs I don’t leave without payment in hand, for others I have negotiated pay anywhere from a week to 2 weeks. You have a right to at least try and change the terms of pay. The least they can say is no but the most they can say is YES! Hello!. At least you know 30 days is the norm.
SO LETS GET PAID!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t forget to leave your comments below–thanks