NOTE: I wrote this originally as a Facebook status, but it got so widely shared and commented on, I figured I’d write it out (and extend it) as a blog post. I’d love to know any additional ideas you’d like to add to the list, so feel free to comment below.
Regardless of how many shows, etc you perform in - It’s always a good idea to touch base with producers, event managers, etc every 6 months or so to let them know what acts you currently have, your schedule, what you’ve been up to, etc.
On the topic of communication…
I understand 100% that life happens. Things come up, problems occur, stress makes us forgot deadlines, etc. I’ll never get upset or frustrated at someone for handing in music, tech sheets, etc late if they keep the lines of communication open. As someone who has anxiety, I understand it can be overwhelming at times. However, you have a responsibility to communicate with those who have employed your services. Please don’t ignore us. We’re just trying to do our job. Please try to do yours and if you can’t, for whatever reason, please talk to us.
Read the email in full:
My biggest gripe is when I explicitly ask for information or photos from performers in an email and don’t get what I need. This shows me you haven’t read the email properly and it creates extra work on my end to harass you for them. May sound trivial, but about 70% of the time that I end up having to follow up people for photos or information. I literally have a hallelujah moment when someone does what I have asked of them, without me having to follow up. Be that person.
Producers are clueless:
I know personally - a lot of the time, even if you have been in a show I’ve cast, I tend to forget what acts people have in their arsenal. Basically - assume that if you personally haven’t told a producer, then they don’t know. If you have, and it’s been a while, remind them.
Meet your deadlines:
When a producer says the music is due in at 5.00pm on a Thursday, that’s when it is due. Time management, folks. If you can’t meet that deadline, see the second point re. communication. If you know you’ve got a busy week ahead and you’ll be pressed for time to get things in, ensure you make time earlier the week before. If you want to be booked again, please meet deadlines and do what your producers ask of you.
A producer with good time management should give you at least 1.5 - 2 weeks minimum to get information, music, etc to them, which is more than sufficient. Producers may have a bit of memory loss when it comes to what acts are in your arsenal, but they definitely remember those who have been professional, met deadlines and made their lives easier. They are the people who will be re-booked.
Sit your ego down:
Never get too big for your boots to assume that gigs will just “come” to you and producers will come door knocking.
Never assume someone won’t put you in their show - if someone talks themselves down directly to me, it’s very off putting. If you don’t have your own back, how do you expect anyone else to?
What is in your arsenal?
Have some way for producers to find your acts and what you do. YouTube channel, website, something. Facebook pages or Instagram are OK and give producers a taste - but how is someone meant to know what is in your repertoire if you don’t have it listed somewhere?
No low resolution, blurry pictures please:
Please invest in some professional studio shots! Promotional shots for posters work best when it’s a clear background that can be erased or manipulated, with full length, medium shots and close ups in a variety of looks. In full colour please. Sending me a low res photo you’ve pulled off Facebook that’s partially blurry in low lighting from a live show isn’t going to cut it, sorry love.
Be courteous backstage:
You may be the most talented performer this side of the sun, but if you are disrespectful backstage to your fellow performers (i.e. taking selfies while there’s someone half naked with their boobs out trying to put a pastie on in the background, spreading your mess like it’s peanut butter, getting within others personal space, having a diva moment or not handling your anxiety in a respectful way) then you can be pretty sure that you won’t be booked again.
Know Producers take a risk:
When we produce a show, we take on the financial risk. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’ve agreed with the producer that they’ll pay you an outright fee (please make sure you get it in writing) the producer is liable to pay you regardless. If you’re working on a profit share, where there’s a risk that you may not get anything, then so be it. But, if the show makes a loss, they end up being out of pocket. A sad truth is that a lot of industry producers don’t even allocate themselves a fee - they basically have the dregs that are left over (if there is any left over) despite the fact that they’ve done the most amount of work. Be kind to them, and always thank them for giving you stage time and for doing their job.
You’ve been booked to perform an act. Ensure that piece is rehearsed, costume is bang on and you hit those beats. The amount of times I have heard performers (not in shows that I’ve produced, but shows I’ve been booked to perform in) say they’ve only rehearsed once, or will just improvise on the spot, is insane. Yes, for some performances you can improvise, such as dancing while lip-syncing, but you still need to know the words, have your outfit sorted, and at least have a few moves up your bell sleeve, etc.
Conduct yourself professionally in public:
Whether you are attending a show, or you are in one, please, please, please, for your own brand and the sake of those who are contracting you, please behave in a professional manner.
For example, if you’ve been contracted to perform in a show, and you know there will be audience members having a couple of drinks at the venue afterwards, ensure you have something nice and appropriate to wear, be open and inviting to people coming to talk to you, be prepared to allow a couple of selfies from guests (if appropriate - you can always politely say no, consent is sexy) and if you wish to drink, have one drink in hand.
Do NOT come out in your tracksuit pants, be intrusive to patrons conversations or photos (again, consent is sexy) and for goodness sake, don’t go and order 5 tequila shots and shoot them at the bar with an audience watching and then stumble around the venue like a (hot) mess (leave all of that until AFTER you’ve left the venue if you must). You are your brand. Be professional in public. Be professional in general.
Do not guilt trip your producer:
Producers, in a contract or written agreement (which can be as simple as an email), will generally specify date, time, act/role, compensation and an approximate time as to when compensation will be paid out. Compensation should be money (whether by cash or bank transfer) + additional compensation. Additional compensation is entirely dependent on the producer, but it can be things like drink vouchers, a complimentary ticket for you to give to a friend or fan, airfares, accommodation, etc.
Once you agree on these terms, they’re set.
Please, do not try and get your pay fast-tracked if you’ve agreed to the producers terms. Some producers need to wait until the ticketing company has paid them in order to pay you, which can take from 3 - 7 working days. The producer doesn’t need to hear your story about how you are low on rent money. This sounds harsh, I know, and a lot of the time, the people I contract are my friends, which adds a whole other level to it as I care for them and don’t want them to be stressing about their finances. But, contracts and agreements are set in stone for these exact purposes. Of course, if I get paid out early, I will endeavor to get you paid sooner than agreed upon, but please don't press your stresses upon us - it makes us feel pretty terrible and adds another layer of stress onto our already demanding job.
Also, don’t try to change your agreed fee. A lot of the time, our budgets are already stretched, so to have someone, who we’ve likely already been promoting, come to us and try and get a pay increase at the 11th hour, it’s really not on. If you had a problem with the rate to start with, you shouldn’t have agreed to it or at least brought it up for discussion before confirming.
Of course, there are allowances for this. For example, if the producer goes and demands another act from you or throws added rehearsals at you without consulting you first or discussing additional payment, then they are also going against the contract. Definitely talk to them in that instance, and don’t let a producer take you for a ride.
Long story short…
Keep up communication, don’t assume gigs will always come your way, you still need to hustle. Have your own back and invest in your art and brand by getting some professional shots done. If you have to pay for it, so be it. Be professional. Be considerate of others. Don’t guilt trip your producer and read your contracts thoroughly.