Stop Being A Broke Creative - 5 Ways To Make Sure You Get Paid

11-27-2014 12:48 PM

If you own a studio and make your living from it then I want to tell you something that you probably need to hear more often. Your talent and the equipment and facilities you have invested in are worth good money - so don’t let people get away with not paying you!
I hear too many stories from creative professionals who spend hours, days, weeks, months on a project and then never get paid for it. You know the usual lines;

  • The cheque is in the post
  • I haven’t been paid
  • We ran over budget
  • I just need a few more weeks to get the money
  • The dog ate the cheque

Let’s be clear if your client’s bank don’t do recording, then they shouldn’t expect your studio to offer loans!
Now until you start believing in your skill and your talent, then setting some clear boundaries about payment, then you may as well burn your own money.
So here are my 5 top tips to make sure you get paid;
Establish Terms Before you Start The Job

Make sure your clients know the terms of payment. No payment in line with your payment terms, no gig. If they want charity, then I suggest they record their tracks with Greenpeace.
Set Up A Schedule Of Payments

Agree a payment schedule. For new clients on projects the best case 100% up front, second best 50% at the start of the project and 50% on completion. Worst case, 30-30-30% beginning, middle and end. You don’t see me offering a 100% at the end, simply for this reason, if you’re running a long project then you need to eat and waiting for weeks to get paid is rubbish. If your client can’t agree to this, then they have no intention of paying - avoid. Once you’ve established some form of trust then you may wish to relax the deal, but let them ask for that - never offer it. More businesses crash through cash-flow than anything else.
Get It All In Writing

Get it all in writing; have a standard set of terms, they don’t need to be biblical, but they simply set out what you are going to deliver and when and what the client is going to pay for that and when. Write in the agreed terms and then get a signature. If you have to go to court later the first thing a lawyer will ask is ‘did you get it in writing?’ If the answer is no, then you are as likely to be crowned the King of Mars as you are to get paid.
Never Release Mixes Or Masters

Never, I repeat never release mixes or masters. If they want to hear mixes then use an audio watermark every 30 seconds on the tracks to ensure they are useless for release.
Never Apologise For Wanting Payment

Never apologise when asking for money, anyone who respects you and appreciates your talent will expect you to charge a reasonable rate for your services.

This may all seem a bit intense, but I’ve seen too many good studios and friends find themselves on the end of a serious amount of debt - don’t be one of them!