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Business Help? "Talent Not Paying"
Old 14th January 2007
Gear Head
🎧 15 years
Business Help? "Talent Not Paying"

A few months ago a friend of mine introduced a group to me that wanted to record 5 songs and do a promo video. They are a Rap/R&B unit with 2 women and 1 guy.

We did 2 days of vocal tracking, and I spent about 5 hours per song mixing, importing their original beats that they wanted beefed up. As well, they asked me to produce some new beats for them...

They have said that they are happy with 3/5 of the songs and that they want to take the 2 they aren't happy with to someone else (a boyfriend of 1 of the members) can remix. They have requested Karaoke versions of the 3 they like and all of the vocal tracks. I had originally quoted them 300 for the tracking and 300 for mixing...about 600 for the project. They paid for the recording on the day we finished, but haven't paid for any of the mixing, and have said they don't want to pay for the songs they aren't happy with.

I have asked what they don't like, and they have not been clear. The beats aren't strong enough (but they liked them when I first sent them a sample). Vocals don't sound right, you aren't using "Hip Hop" effects, etc, etc...

I don't know what to do. The mixing took longer than I thought it would because they asked me to produce some new beats and add some stuff...which they aren't happy with (they weren't present during mixing). But the time has still been spent.

Advice? Should I charge them 3/5ths? Should I charge all? Charge for the karaoke versions...not sure what to do. I was pretty pissed and frsutrated with them and myself when they first called, but writing has been theraputic. I guess it just shows me I still don't have the skills...or are there always going to be a certain number of customers that are like this.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Learned ALOT throught this.

Old 14th January 2007
Lives for gear
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by dstole ➡️
I had originally quoted them 300 for the tracking and 300 for mixing...about 600 for the project.
If they accepted this quote/offer, common law dictates that this was a contract, and thus they owe you the full sum. The nature of recording and mixing is that the outcome is often unpredictable and depends as much on the customer as it does the party providing the services -- thus, it should be assumed that they were aware of this uncertainty, and barring any gross negligence on your part, your delivery of the agreed upon service (the mixes, namely) completes the transaction.

This need not be in writing, mind you. Any written documentation you can use to prove this would of course be helpful in proving your case, but it's doesn't affect the legality of the verbal contract itself.

The purpose of agreeing upon these terms in advance is precisely so that this situation doesn't occur. You can't provide an open-ended commitment to fulfill their concept of a 'finished project' just as they can't provide an open-ended monitary commitment to pay you if you decide you need to spend more time on the project than originally quoted. There is a fair allocation of risk here. Thus, you should expect them to pay as agreed just as they would expect you to deliver the service as agreed -- which you did.

If you're concerned that you don't have 'what it takes,' again, they took this risk upon themselves as well. However, your work could have been worth twice the price you quoted them for all you know. This is a mistake in judgement on their part if they believe they overvalued your expertise, and it's not your fault as you did nothing to misrepresent yourself.

While the karaoke mixes were not part of the original deal, it might behoove you to go ahead and give that to them as it wouldn't really take much time for you and might be a sign of goodwill in that you can say, "look, let's compromise and I won't charge you for these karaoke mixes" and perhaps make a little progress in collecting.

My guess is that the law notwithstanding, you're not going to have much luck in collecting, and welcome to the studio world. Also, Japan is based on civil law and not common law so I don't know what particular statues regarding contract law might contradict what I'm saying here. My guess is that these points I brought up would still stand true.

Good luck!
Old 14th January 2007 | Show parent
Lives for gear
cajonezzz's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Give them only what they've paid for.

For that small amount of money, I wouldn't get too stinky about it. Let em go their own way, wish em luck. Don't charge for the two they don't "like" but also don't release the files to them. They want em to 'fix" then they pay.

You need to get a clearly articulated production agreement for the future. Biz is Biz, and this is a good opportunity to get that sorted out. If you don't , it will continue to happen. Human nature.

Old 14th January 2007 | Show parent
Lives for gear
RusRant's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Keep in mind I do not run a traditional commercial studio, but I always go with a pay as they go plan. That way there are no issues with this. There are situations were I don't work this way, but for band/music recording projects, PAY AS THEY GO! Always.
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