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Legal issue/ getting scee-rued

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by EricWatkins, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member


    Just wondering if anyone has experience with getting screwed out of payment for something they scored. I produced music for a 30 second spot late last year for a production company who was hired by a large, nationally known corporation. I had worked for the production company before and had no real problems with them. So when they called me back for another job, I was only too happy to oblige. So I scored the spot, under a tight deadline (of course), and delivered on time. THe production company was happy with the music, the end buyer was happy with the music, happy ending right? So I send them the mastered wav or aif or whatever it was at the time and I am assuming they used it. The spot was only being shown in the North East USA so I dont know for sure if it was actually broadcast. Anyway, when sending the right release for buyout of the music, I stated clearly that they would have exclusive rights to the said music upon full and complete payment of XXXX. Now it's been 7 months and after literally dozens of phone calls, letters, emails, and now an ultimatum from my attorney, I'm not hearing anything back from them. The last time I talked to them, I spoke with the producer who hired me for the job. She said I should write to the CEO to get it taken care of. After a letter back from the CEO saying that he was sorry and embarrassed by the situation, and that he was sure he wanted to work with me again, and that they were about to have a meeting to figure out how to pay multiple debts that they owed, I havent heard a damn thing. That was like a month and a half ago. Like I said, since then, my attorney sent them a letter prompting them for full payment before it gets nasty I guess. I dont know what the specific wording was now. Anyone have stories or advice? I'm not a member of ASCAP or BMI or anything else. I live in Illinois, the production company is in RI. Any help would be wonderful. I'm out a good amount of money over this and it's of course, jamming up my own financial situation pretty good. Thanks,

  2. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Reminds me of the saying "trying to get blood from a stone."

    I get the distinct feeling the production company is going down.
  3. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Ya, I wouldnt doubt that, but I wonder where that puts me as far as ability to collect if the material was indeed broadcast?
  4. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Not meaning to ask questions which lead to hard looks...
    How much are we talking about?
    Chasing coin costs money.
  5. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Thousands and did I mention that my attorney is a good friend AND a musician himself? :wink:
  6. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Cool, get your friend to call a debt collector.
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    It’s probably a good thing that you got your letter in early. When bankruptcy is declared, the judge will have strong case to allocate funds your way.
  8. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Well the studio has left a message with my attorney now, wanting to make a payment plan. Lol! I never would have guessed that I'd be on the RECIEVING end of a payment plan. Anyway, we're going to offer something like half plus one fourth plus one fourth and anything less, we'll be pulling the plug on the end user's spot. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  9. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    That shows that they really do appreciate your services! Even when sinking they still tried to settle the debt to you, good job!
  10. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Totally awesome job!

    This is like the best outcome you can expect from a debtor.

    Unfortunately, you can say this is just me being paranoid, but, they are stalling for time. They admitted to the debt back when you said;
    "After a letter back from the CEO saying that he was sorry and embarrassed by the situation, and that he was sure he wanted to work with me again, and that they were about to have a meeting to figure out how to pay multiple debts that they owed".
    Now they are just buying time.

    When a company goes bankrupt the debtors get payed a percentage of what they are owed. Say a company owes $10 but only has $1 when liquidated. That means you get payed 10c on the dollar. Minus costs...

    A good debt collector will be able to tell you (ignoring unpredictable human BSting) the best possible way for you to gain. They should know what that company owes, what it is worth and how much you stand to gain pursuing them down the many paths you can take. Seriously, get professional advice.
  11. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Yeah, I'm not jumping for joy yet. I dont even know if they will be able to cough it up and I agree that they are probably just stalling for time. We'll see.

  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Well you have all of these transactions documented for the courtroom.
  13. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    This is what I was going to post.

    Your official request is in. Keep checking on the company's situation.
    If you PM me their name, I can check into their situation as well.

    They are having "CEO can't handle his coke" problems.
  14. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "They are having "CEO can't handle his coke" problems." /quote

    Many a good company has gone belly up from staying nose down!
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The way things work.

    In good times 30 days was a good net pay from advertising companies. 90 days was considered "normal" and 120 days was not out of the question. If you were running a commercial recording company and you were doing lots of spots for the advertising company it really did not matter since after the initial 30 days you were getting paid on a regular basis. There was always more money in the money pipeline and even if you were slow for a week there was money coming in. That was then this is now.

    Today everyone is taking the maximum time to pay. Most companies are hurting with the current economy slow down and if you are at the end of a long pay down chain you could be looking at 3 to 6 months to get paid for a job. Cash flow is always the problem in a mini recession like we are currently in. Everyone wants to hold on to their money for the maximum amount of time either to earn interest or to pay off their creditors that are the first in line or more important to their well being. If you are in financial trouble the first people you want to pay off is the bank so they don't foreclose on your property, your employees so they don't leave and anyone else like the electric utility so they don't turn off your lights. All the rest of your creditors can form a conga line and wait to be paid.

    It sounds to me as if this company is having money problems and you are paying the price for their problems. You are doing all the right things and hopefully you will be paid. It maybe that the company ran into a dry spell and had to dip into their current operating funds to pay for their "in your face bills" like the bank and their employee's salaries leaving them no money to pay you. I don't think it is fair to say that their CEO is having a coke problem since it maybe something completely different ( and you may never know the real reason) and it maybe as simple as their biggest client went belly up or went somewhere else for their work. It can happen to anyone and it can happen overnight.

    Best of luck and in the future maybe do your billing differently. 1/3 down, 1/3 on delivery of the spot and 1/3 when the spot airs. That way you have 2/3rds in your pocket and they have the spot that they can run.
  16. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Well according to the latest, I will be paid in full by the end of this month. It's too bad that it had to come to threatening them with a lawsuit to make it happen. I really enjoyed both projects I had done for them and they paid me fine for the first one. It was just this last one that was the problem. I dont think I'll have to worry about them to asking me to do more work for them. I'm glad I'm getting paid and yet, believe it or not, it bugs me to lose a client as they were one of the first I had gotten over a long distance connection. So hard to get new ones. Oh well. I gave them six months to pay before asking my attorney for help and a big problem on thier end was lack of communication. I cant tell you how many phone messages and emails I left with them that never got returned. If they had been open and honest about whatever thier situation was, they probably could have strewn me along a little farther. Maybe.

    Thanks everyone for your ideas and support. Whatever contract I make from here on out, I stil wont release rights until full payment is made. It's the only thing that saved me this time. I agree that I should get some money down next time but sometimes these things come up so fast and have to be done right away. With the production company 1200 mile away, I couldnt just ask them to cut me check and hand it over. I had the spot done before the mail would have made it between the two of us. Anyway, have a great SUnday everyone.

  17. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Have them use PayPal. You will have your funds over night. Or ask them to do direct deposit in an account that you setup for this kind of event and then move the money out of the transfer account into a real savings or checking account. There are lots of ways in this digital age to get around the "check is in the mail" routine. Best of luck and I am glad you are going to finally get paid. We have two BOZOs that still owe us money and I am about to turn them over to a collections agency.
  18. dwoz

    dwoz Guest

    Another thing to consider in future work...When you do work for an agency, they are billing through to their end client. When the payment situation derails and trails off into the weeds with the agency, you can then approach the end client for the payment...particularly because THEY are the ones using the uncompensated work.

    Absent payment, any contractual agreements vis a vis ownership of the rights, is moot, it all reverts back to you, so non-payment by the agency leaves the end client open to having to pay synch rights, songwriter royalties, SR royalties, the whole kit.

    Then again, it may be the end client that went belly-up!

    Often, small ad shops have 3 clients that comprise 90 percent of their revenue. Losing one of them for some reason is usually devastating.

  19. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Right :)

    The end client has no idea who you are, except another freak standing on the sidewalk screaming at the window "I want my money!"

    Bad idea.
  20. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV but common sense would be that if you are billing a company that is slow to pay and you try and go around them to the ad agency that is working though them you have no legal claim on the ad agency since they are doing work with the second party and not with you.

    You are dealing with a "third party" and not with who really owes you the money. They are out of the picture and off the table when it comes to getting paid what is owed you. You have to do business with the people that really owe you and not with someone twice removed.

    FWIW and YMMV

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