This has been an interesting morning. A client who was supposed to come into the studio called to ascertain that I received his email from Wednesday, canceling today’s recording date. I had not. Then I opened the email and there it was, along with another post from a club that I am supposed to work at the end of the month, telling me that they’ve decided to not honor their verbal commitment to a guarantee. But they hoped that I would come up for no guarantee and continue to play there. What generosity! We had agreed that I was to play the last Sunday of the month for this entire calendar year and received a certain percentage of the door against the modest guarantee.
But we did this all verbally, as I am long acquainted with the owner. I didn’t even follow my own advice. Shame on me. NO written contract. What was I thinking? What did I want to have happen? Was I afraid if I pushed for a contract that the date would not materialize? If you have those misgivings, there is only one thing to do. You do what’s right and if the date falls thru because of that, then it is a blessing. Saves you a lot of time and heartache.
The contract would have, among other things, prohibited a presenter from changing anything without giving me sixty days notice (as you can’t fill in any dates that are closer than sixty days out and only then if you are lucky). As it is, I am stuck. I committed to the dates and have told my people and spread the word, so I have to go to this one. But I will cancel the remainder of the year. The reason for this is simple.
When the venue has some skin in the game (a guarantee) then they work harder to get people into the club. When they have nothing to lose then all the risk comes from your end. And the excuse that they have salaries and rent to pay doesn’t hold water, as they would have that every day anyway. They opened a business—just as you are a business. And you have rent and a salary to pay every day as well—to yourself.
So here is what we’re going to talk about today. Keeping your word as a performer and as a presenter. If you need to cancel, it must be done far enough in advance that the other parties involved are not harmed by your decision to cancel. If you must cancel with out enough advance notice to the other party, then you should be prepared to accept the financial responsibility of that decision. It isn’t the other party’s fault you are canceling and they should not be penalized. And this goes both ways, of course.
As an artist, you are creating a scene by virtue of your appearance. The presenter has a reputation and a consistency to maintain with their constituency. The way that they build an audience for their venue is to be consistent and professional. Always the same time, same place and things start to grow. If the dates and the times and the venues change all the time, then the audience just loses interest. Many people go out at the last minute and they can’t do that at a venue that isn’t consistent.
And the venues can’t be expected to deal with you canceling at the last minute (except for the usual war, acts of god, and death…three reasonable excuses). I don’t think I have ever canceled a gig without the appropriate advance warning in my entire life. If you say you are coming…you come. You must keep your word or what is the point of trying to do this kind of thing? Or anything for that matter.
You sleep a lot easier and your life goes a lot easier if you keep your word…to yourself and to others.