Monday, February 25, 2013

The Aftermath of Getting Stiffed

Disclaimer: My intentions are never to drag someone's name through the mud. Therefore, no names are mentioned other than mine. 

That's right, People! I got stiffed this weekend. I am left asking, "What now? What did I do wrong? How can anybody do what they did and still be able to sleep at night?" I tell myself, there is nothing that can be done, other than to wash my hands of it and continue onward.  BUT, I'M STILL FUMING!!!!!!!

So. Here's what happened.

Two weeks ago, an acquaintance contacted me (via Facebook) to help her rehearse a few songs for a show that happened yesterday. Because of my busy schedule, I gave her the option to record rehearsal tracks for her. When I threw that option out there, I never heard from her again until three days before her big show. Three days, People! She messaged me and said she totally blinked, she was desperate because she didn't know some of the songs, and didn't read one lick of music. To help a friend of a friend out, I agreed to record tracks for her. Because she was a friend of a friend's, I charged her a huge discounted rate. That being 50%. My first MISTAKE.

A Friday night mind you..I could've been lounging with Husband to wind down the week, catching up on shows we saved on Hulu. But no, I spent a good 6 hours, (4.5 chargeable hours) in front of my Roland, MacBookPro, and wearing these GAWD awfully heavy headphones, and I went-a-plunkin'. Not to mention, I had the worse case of sinus-somethin'-or-other-induced headache. I sent off 5 10-second tracks to her around midnight with the final total. Even at 4.5 hours, I still knocked it down to $100. My second MISTAKE.

Here is my policy for my tracking services:

1) I charge by the hour.
2) I send off sample clips of what I've completed, and once I have received a payment via PayPal, I send off the full tracks.

I immediately got a response saying that she was not expecting to pay $100, but was only expecting to pay $25 and a "little bit of a rush charge." My heart dropped. Here's the kicker, she was expecting me to push record on my iPhone and plunk out a bunch of songs in under and hour and send it off to her with a crap-ton of wrong notes. I don't do that. I'm a professional. I make PROFESSIONAL rehearsal tracks. I was tired, I was sick, and I wanted to cry. Just so I can go to bed a little quicker, I said to her if $25 is all she can afford, $25 it is. I then canceled my PayPal invoice of $100, and resent a $25 invoice. My third and fourth MISTAKE.

After not seeing a reply from her, 1AM was rolling around, I just said, "Eff it. She's pissed off. I'll just send her my effing tracks so I can get on to bed. I spent too much time tracking these songs to not go to use." Tracks. Sent. My fifth MISTAKE. 

Since the final tracks were sent, I never heard from her again. I figured it was because she was too pissed off to talk to me. I didn't sleep well that night. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. It was probably a combination of my sinus-somethin'-or-other-induced headache, or the reality of losing $100. I was hoping between sending the tracks off last night to the following morning, that I would get a Paypal receipt saying that a payment has been made. NOTHING. No Facebook message, no emails, NOTHING.

Around the afternoon, my STUPID-SELF decided to be the bigger person, after weighing in on the fact that I was not straight up about how long it would take to record those tracks. I sent a final email to her saying to please have the tracks ON ME due to the fact that I neglected to tell her EXACTLY what my services and charges were. It was MY MISTAKE to assume that she knew the definition of what a rehearsal track is. My sixth and FINAL MISTAKE.

Sunday rolled around. I was still licking my wounds. I told our mutual friends what happened, and all they could really do was repeatedly say "Sorry" to me. (Side bar: No one should ever have to apologize for someone else's asinine behavior!) I distracted myself by having friends come over, cooking a nice meal for them, and we had an awesome marathon of American Horror Story. It was fun. But like Charlie Brown, I had this rain-cloud over my head. At this point, all I wanted was a, "Thank you!"

Today, as I went to work, I remembered Said Person telling me that she is really good friends with my Boss Lady. I have nothing to lose. I went to Boss Lady's office, and asked how good of friends she was with Said Person.

Boss Lady: Who?
Me: Said Person
Boss Lady: I don't know who that is.
Me: Well, according to her, you two are great friends. She said you even powdered her boobs once. She use to work here.
Boss Lady: I don't know who that is.
Me: I was really hoping you two were actually great friends so you can hound her for stiffing me.

Then she proceeded to holler at Other Two Bosses in the office next door and told them to come in.

Boss Lady: Do you know Said Person?
Other Two Bosses: Oh yes! Not with good reviews though. Why?
Me: She stiffed me.
En Masse: I'm so sorry!!!!

They proceeded to recall why she no longer worked there, and it was best that everybody parted their own ways. They also said that any GOOD PERSON would at least try and pay the $25, even though I comped her on the whole thing.

Here's another kicker. When I asked Other Two Bosses to define what a rehearsal track means, this is what they said.

1) A performance quality track. Piano Only
2) $25+ per song
3) Two tracks normally provided per song. One with melody. One with accompaniment only.

When I told them she thought I would just push record on my iPhone and plunk out 5 songs back to back in an hour, and send off a huge track with a bunch of wrong notes, they all said, "NO PROFESSIONAL IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD SEND OFF A TRACK A MORON CAN DO THEMSELVES."

There was some consolation to all this. The Theater world is very small. The Bosses are very well connected, and are "in the loop" of all future castings happening in Southern California. They also told me that Said Person's name will be dropped at future castings if she were to show up. Ouch.

Moral of the story:
1) Never bypass business policies when someone "in need" contacts me.
2) Treat my business like A BUSINESS.
3) 50% upfront. Always. And Forever.

Lesson. Learned.

Til' Next time, Y'alls.

P.S. I am trying to recover the loss. So if you are in need of the follow tracks (Piano Only), please contact me at

Phantom of the Opera
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Unexpected Song