This is a big one and one that a lot of bands don’t want to hear, but you need to talk about. Being willing to pay on time and the proper amount is paramount if you want to succeed in the music business. This is not just about having to spend money to make money but it’s about being cognizant of how other people you interact with make money and the kinds of schemes they have been exposed too. On top of this I want to talk for a minute about people who tried to trade goods or services of their own for services within the music industry. This is of course all a very tricky thing and is going to require a fair bit of capital to succeed with. I understand the temptation to cut corners and I don’t blame you for it. That being said – if you don’t take the time and energy to pay people correctly and fairly then you are going to find yourself in a real bind. Nor only will you be hurting your reputation but also this bad reputation will lead to higher costs in the long run. Let’s dig in.
Paying up front and on time is the big one. I know a lot of people feel like they shouldn’t be obligated to pay even a chunk until the job is done but guess what – these people are professionals too, and they don’t trust you as much as you might not trust them. Moreso in some cases because after all – they have online reputations to manage and all that good stuff. They can be researched and have past clients you can message to see if they are serious and will make good on their word. You on the other hand are just another artist, in many cases you’ve never paid for PR or some other service before and a lot of your relationships are more personal. While this is totally fine it also means that the person providing services is going to have a harder time finding out if you are the real deal. So they really have no clue if you are going to actually pay up or not. If you act sketchy in any way – remember these people do this for a living so it’s going to raise some red flags.
Realize too that if you minimize the maount of red flags you are raising the better service you are going to get. If you pay everything up front and are nice and easty to get in touch with, the person who is promoting you is going to see that you are real and worht investing time in. If you are whiny, take a long time to pay and are hard to engage with, why should they even bother talking to you? That makes literally no sense. It’s a question of time investment and realizing these people are busy. You need to inspire within them a reason to spend time on you. If you pay up front people are going to be a lot happier in working with you. The value proposition from your end is already there. On top of that you hold all the power. If they disappear you can trash their reputation, if they hustle as they should then you will see that you are getting your moneys worth. It’s a simple question of understanding human psychology.
Remember that most seasoned industry professionals have seen bands try to pull every scam under the sun and they are tired of this bullshit. This isn’t because they are bad people or because they hate you, it’s because they just want to be able to feed their kids and watching you be a grumpy asshole and expecting work for free is only going to make them waste time and hate their lives. You want to be a blessing to the people you hire with both your financial obligation and your attitude. I personally have dealt with all manner of sketchiness and trust me – it doesn’t help. If I’m trying to aid people while in the back of my head all I can think is ‘this guy might not pay me the rest of the money he owes me’ do you think I’m really going to be motivated to do my best? There are certainly situations where this setup is acceptable – when you have a great relationship with the person providing services for example. When you first reach out though, it’s probably wisest to lead with your best foot forward.
Of course you also might be able to bring something to the table to the industry professional that is better than money. You might have some way to pay them that is more effective and could bring a lot of value to the PR person in question. In most cases though this doesn’t work. I mean – it should be fairly obvious. The whole reason we invented currency was because bartering was too much of a hassle and led to a lot of inconsistencies. This is the case with a lot of what you might try to offer someone providing you services. However if you have something you do that is genuinely useful to the producer and people have paid for in the past then they might just be into it. If you act like they owe you something you are going to get nowhere. However, if they say something about needing a new logo or something then see what you can do to provide it. If you can do it well then you will certainly get a discount for the services.
Now be wise with your spending, don’t just throw away money with the hope that one of your investments is going to pay off. That is not at all the goal here. The plan rather is to not be a dick when it comes time to spend money. Appreciate what other peoples needs are and help them out. This part is easy and should be fun. We got into this to make friends after all – you can be friends with someone you pay for services. Being exacting, anal and unhelpful whilst withholding money isn’t a great way to suggest that you want to make a friend or grow your reputation with others. Be shrewd, just not an asshole. If you can make a point of doing that then the long term success will fall in your lap and you will end up saving money.