Thursday, February 28, 2013

Going All-In and Getting Kicked Out

She wanted to book a Tuesday in March.  It was already mid-February.  There was no way I was going to fill in this particular Tuesday in March.

So I offered a deeply discounted rate for our comedy murder mystery.

But soon I learned I had been played for a fool.  The group was a Young Professionals Association in eastern Illinois; and they were anything but professional.  But they were definitely young, and their attitude toward getting me the info I needed to send them a contract and arrange the show was not unlike my 17-year-old's attitude toward doing her homework.  At 12 days prior to our scheduled performance, I still had not heard from the woman coordinating the event, and still had not been able to send them a contract.

When we did talk (today) she informed me that the attendance might be four times as large as she had originally told me.  I replied that if that were the case I would have to raise my price, and would send her a contract with the higher rate - though still a deeply discounted one.  She then tried not to secure the original rate, but to poor-mouth me down to a rate even lower than what we had verbally agreed to (before she went on vacation for two weeks and left me a voice mail with no information on where to send the contract) - trying to negotiate me down for an event to be held at the local Country Club, no less.

This whole thing ended with this woman having a co-member call me and denigrate our company.  "I called at got a company from Chicago to come down to do this show instead of Upstage Productions!" she bragged, at a rate higher than I had quoted them.  "It will be good to have the choice of a second mystery company in our town!" she said, sweetly.

I hung up on her.  Such are the frustrations (dealing with jerks) - and the benefits (hanging up on jerks) - of running your own business.


But here's the problem I find myself in when I'm in these situations.

The customer wants a show that's all-in.  They expect us to do what we do as performers, give the show our all, regardless of the mood we're in, how we're feeling physically, what we have to go through to get there, or any other circumstances involved.  But they don't always want to pay what it costs to have us all-in.


This is precisely why Stewardship of Love is so important, especially for actors and other fools.

Going "all in" comes with a cost.

Last week I wrote about The Provisional Life and the Peter Pan Syndrome, in which I observed that it's wrong - or at least immature - NOT to go "all in" with the life we've been given.  And yet there are times when choices come up, and when we must say to a prospective friend or lover or customer - "I will only do this if I can do it right; and to do it right requires I go all in, and that's going to cost me and cost you - and if the investment is not reciprocal - then I have only one choice.  I'm all out."

This was the entertainment at last year's Young Professional's Dinner at the Country Club.  Not very good, but they got him cheap!!!


Scott W. said...

My wife and I get the same treatment as musicians. We are often treated like "the help", which is fine as far as it goes, but when you give them the bill they look at you in confusion.

thelastshallbefirst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bo Bonner said...

Sorry, the above quote was from Bo Bonner Kevin.

Bo Bonner said...

This is something where the "conservatives" can be worse than the "liberals" as it were, when it comes to the arts in general. Take painting for example. It is so easy to simply by a reproduction of some masterwork, and hang a poster of it in the Church, rather than pay a living breathing artist a much heftier price to produce something in the flesh.

This applies to your situation as well--if all art is simply entertainment and only entertainment, and it doesn't really matter what you are entertained by, then by all means, go for the lowest bidder.

They do the same for education. People will complain about how much Catholic educaiton costs, but do not see it as a significant investment. They will spend 3/4ths of their life's income to have a super big house, but will not cut the size of the house in half to have their children reared Catholics at a place that spends the money and gets good people to teach.

People will pay good money for wi-fi, but not art. Such is our current situation.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Here's the other thing. Our clients often want the right to cancel at will - say, if they haven't sold enough tickets. But can we, as performers, cancel at will? "Hey, I know you've got a show booked this week that you've got a crowd coming for, but we don't want to do it. Don't worry - you don't have to pay us!" How do you think that would go over?

Anonymous said...

Here's the other thing. Our clients often want the right to cancel at will - say, if they haven't sold enough tickets.

Reminds me years ago I attended a Christmas musical production of the Gift of the Magi in D.C. at some theater in the demilitarized part of town. I was one of three in the audience and bless their hearts the cast went on and belted it out like it was a packed hall at the Ambassador.