Hi, Everyone….. I just need to use this forum as an avenue to vent a bit of frustration over what’s been going on for the past couple of months. I welcome any comments and/or advice from anyone who reads this. Maybe this might also serve as a lesson for others out there who may avoid the mistakes I have made. I opened up my studio about a year and a half ago. Frankly, I started working with clients just as a hobby and a way to make a little bit of spending money. However, things started getting really busy quickly and it turned into a second full time job. I mostly work with singer/songwriters who don’t play any instruments. I do the arrangement of their songs, and record their vocals. It isn’t pro by any means but they get a damn good product for the $165.00/song I charge. For the most part, I have a great group of people who come in regularly. I’m pretty flexible with payment plans and I try to keep things relaxed and laid back. Most of my clients have become close friends and they bring me in other clients by word of mouth which I reward them for with free sessions and whatnot. However, there have been a few instances which have driven me out of my skull with aggravation. It’s easy to look back and look at the mistakes I made but it’s real hard to make good, solid judgments when I’m in the middle of it. First case involved a middle-aged female singer. She had a weekly gig at a local upscale-ish club here in Ft. Lauderdale. She wanted custom arrangements of songs for her performances and told me that the owner of the club would pay $62.50 for each song I did and she would pay the other half which would net me $125.00/song. She told me that payment would come after the song was performed. That should have been the first red flag. So, stupid me goes to work and I did ten songs for her over the course of six weeks. She paid me for the first song and orders more. I did them and gave them to her on a regular basis so that she could rehearse them. I know she performed them because I went to see her perform. A few weeks go by when she performed the songs I did and I still had not received payment. So I finally ask her one evening and she told me she would speak to the club owner. Nothing. Another week goes by and I called her on the phone one afternoon and asked when I could expect to receive payment. She told me she had to hang up but she would call me later. Nothing. I finally emailed her an invoice. She emailed me back saying that the club owner was dissatisfied with the music I did as it was too “choppy”. I told her that was fine, but why was she performing the music week after week if the club owner was dissatisfied with the music. No response. I then decide to approach the club owner who tells me no, he never told her that the music was unsatisfactory and that he paid her for his portion of the song costs. (He told me that he was paying her to commission music arrangements because his clientele was sick and tired of hearing the same music performed week after week). He told me he was sorry but there was nothing he could do about since the agreement was between me and her. So, I stopped contact with her and never did music for her again. Interestingly enough, I hear her perform in other places around here using the “choppy” music I did for her. Lesson learned. Get it in writing. I began working with a songwriter/singer here who was a waiter in one of the restaurants I frequent. He found out I was into music and told me he would like to “drop by and check out my stuff”. He came over one afternoon and we started shooting the bull about music and whatnot. He started singing a tune he wrote and the next thing I know we have a full arrangement going. I gave him a CD of what I had done with his song and didn’t talk about payment because the whole thing had just come out while we were just screwing around. He called me a week later and wanted to come in and record the vocals. “Sure” I told him and like an idiot I didn’t mention payment. He came in, laid a killer vocal and I mixed it and, like the moron I am, I gave him the CD. He loved it so I figured that I would just chalk this one up to pro bono and hit him up the next time. We called me a couple of weeks later and said he had another song he wanted to do. I told him to come in and we would discuss it. He showed up and I told him that I got $165.00 per song and I would be happy to let him pay me later if he needed to. All he needed to do was sign this promissory note saying that he would pay me in X amount of time and we could get to work. He got really nasty and copped an attitude when I brought that up. I told him I was sorry but I had had bad experiences in the past. I also told him that it was nothing personal but I just wanted to be sure I would get paid for the work I do. He left without doing the song but he called two days later, apologized and came in to do the song which he paid for in full. All was well until he wanted even more music done but said he didn’t have the money. I told him that wouldn’t be a problem and I kept on working on his project. However, song after song was done and he never had the money. I finally sent him an email saying that I understood he was having cash flow issues but I would need to suspend the project until he started paying me on a regular basis. He shoots me back an email throwing a big tantrum about how he is going to be a “superstar” and that it would be in my best interest to keep doing music with him because he “has some great things coming up for him”. I told him that would be fine, just come in a sign a contract with me that says I’ll at least get paid for the work I had done. Nope! He didn’t want to sign anything. He kept going on and on about how I should be working with him and how successful he was going to be and blah, blah, blah. At this point I told him get himself some management, get his stuff copywritten, get registered with BMI, etc. and show me that he was serious and then I would sit down with him and hammer out a deal for his project. Until then I told him that I could no longer afford to do his project and not get paid and it wasn’t fair to all the other clients who do pay. I wished him the best of luck and left it at that. I love what I do, but these two experiences have left me with a really bad taste in my mouth. I hate this stuff because I feel like I am shooting myself in the foot by letting these people go but I also don’t want to be taken advantage of. It bothers me that I do stuff like this when I know better. It’s my own fault for not bailing when things started to look shady but it leaves me wondering who I can trust and I hate being that way. Thanks for reading. I know this is one long post and I would be interested in reading some feedback for anyone who would like to leave some.