Guide to getting and playing better gigs


   

Getting Paid

     
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We've all been there. You play the gig and then the promoter either won't pay you the money or comes up with some excuse to pay you less. There are lots of things you could do but we'll stick to the legal ones for now.

First. Did you have a signed contract specifying the terms and conditions very clearly? If not, then it's going to be tougher for you to document and prove the existence of the oral agreement. If you do have a contract it's easier to force the club to live up to it's end of the bargain. The first thing is to try to negotiate with the signer of the contract (or whoever you arranged the deal with).

Why did they not pay? Was there a disagreement about the terms of the gig? Did your band hold up every part of your side of the deal? More than likely, if there was a mis-understanding, there is usually some middle ground in which to wrestle out a solution. If the club just suffered a bad night, perhaps you could arrange to play on a better return gig and get compensated a bit better for that one. If your band had problems i.e. didn't play the full set (s) didn't show up on time, played too loud, damaged something, blah, blah blah,,,, then maybe you could work out a settlement for not quite all that they owe you. Be flexible and business like......Don't get personal!

If the club just plain screwed you, then you have to ask yourself a question:
"Does my band ever want to play this club again?"

Yes
Then you've got a tough pill to swallow. About the only thing you can do is to try to reason with them. If that doesn't work, just make sure that the problems are addressed and remedied for the next engagement. There is no stone-cold-iron-clad way to keep yourself from getting ripped off! Setting on the stipulation that you'll be paid in full before you take the stage can be tricky. You might face that showdown right before you go on-stage and have to make the decision of playing for your fans or sticking to your guns. If you go over all the terms of the agreement again, including the ones that were the problems last time, then the club knows your on the case and that you'll be "looking" for any problems. If it looks like it's getting messy, you can pull out before the gig.

No
In this case you have a few more options. You can sue them. You can hire a solicitor to take care of it for you. Most solicitors will only do this for a flat fee, although you may get one to do it for a percentage of the amount you settle for. You may be able to sue them in the small claims court. Contact the County Court in the county where the club is located and get the paperwork to fill out for a small claims action. You'll have to pay a filing fee and a fee for the papers to be served, although you can add these items to the amount your claiming. Make sure that you fill out the forms correctly. If you have a family lawyer or someone that knows about such stuff who will help you fill out the forms for free (or very little) then do it. That way you'll know that the details are taken care of.

One of the most important things about contracts is to make sure that the person who is signing the contract has the authority to enter into the agreement. If they are only an agent of another person, you should make sure the agreement is between you and the person who is actually going to be responsible for paying you. You have to remember that you're contracting to play FOR someone. The place that you play is just the location. Once you've filed the claim, you'll have an opportunity to go in and tell your side of the story. Small claim court judges and magistrates are usually very receptive to the non-legal side of these proceedings. This system was set up specifically for settling claims without the lawyers getting involved. If the person you're suing doesn't show up, or you win your case, you get a judgment against them. That doesn't mean you get your money. It just means that you won the judgment. There are a few other steps that have to be taken to actually collect (and you may actually NEVER collect). The best thing is that a judgment goes on the credit record of the person who it's against, and it's a powerful weapon in the credit world. the judgment stays on the credit report for SEVEN years! If they didn't have shitty credit before, they do now. One of the best rewards to this action is that the word will get around that you don't take shit!

There are some other actions that you can put into place. Picketing a club won't make many people stay away, but it does raise awareness of your plight , and it warns other bands as to what happened to you. Make sure you call the police and tell them before you just show up. There may be some by-laws that you have to obey. The other thing you can do is to get really big in that town and play the competition. Or better still, make the club that screwed you really beg before you give them the date. About the only thing you'll get from this though, is some self-satisfaction.

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