The Art of Getting Paid
Short of going on a rampage in a crowded cubicle office, the safest method to follow up on payment for services rendered in music business is through persistent determination.
Once the basic elements of your invoice are correct, then you can expect the normal run-around.
You’ll find some helpful hints below:
Purchase Orders – ask whomever is booking/hiring you for the work whether a purchase order isnecessary to insure payment. If it is, then ask for the name, phone and email of the person who specifically will handle payment on your project. Sending a general fax or letter will land you in thegarbage can or the ‘endless pit’ file folder. Always reference the purchase order given for your activity on your invoice.
Accounts Payable Person – it’s best to have the specific name of the person who will handle the processing of your invoice. Always ask if the artist’s manager or A&R need to also have a copy of the invoice as often someone else is in the food chain to check invoice amounts. Direct your specific questions, your invoices and follow up inquiries to that person only. Do not involve the entire department.
Invoices – In the body of your invoice you want to include the Purchase Order, the artist, the service provided, title of the song and almost always the producer’s name for that particular song. Simple things like skipping the date(s) of services provided or not noting song titles will hold up approval of payment for you invoice.
Email – Invoices are often emailed. Some companies ask that you email and send hard copies of your invoice. Ask them which they prefer.
Dollar Amounts – If you end up spending additional time than was included on the value of the purchase order, or you had to rent additional equipment it’s best to confirm expansion of the purchase order with the A/P person before submitting your invoice. Do NOT assume they will pay it without further approving the additional amounts. Per Diems and additional travel expenses need to be cleared ahead of time otherwise don’t expect your money back. First class upgrade costs without approval will only cost you your Sky Miles.
Payee info – Make sure that WHO TO PAY and WHERE payment should be sent is clear on your invoice. You‘ll be asked to supply a W9, so have one scanned in for easy attachment.
Payment Follow up – provided your invoice has all the correct info, you have a chance of payment. Following up on your money requires strategy.
Here is where persistence starts and determination puts down roots. I recommend both calling and emails. People are not always in front of their computers and if they have a ton of projects to clear, they will miss things. Call, be polite, make someone laugh and feel human. You will be told, “Oh we didn’t get your invoice, please re-send.”
Ignore your desire to tell them, “I sent it 2months ago, 1 month ago and then again last week.” Simply laugh and let them know it will be right there. Emotional responses to not being paid will not help your blood pressure nor will they create empathy for faster payment. Stay calm and keep marking your calendar with the next date of contact.
If this side of your business is not for you, we’re here to help. Milk Money Consulting, Inc can help with your invoicing and collections. In addition to the fun session work that we create, this very practical aspect of our financial lives is something we handle daily.
Good Luck. Happy Holidays!