So you’ve done the show, now you want to get paid. Most performers find it awkward to bring the subject of payment up, so here’s a few helpful tips, plus helpful advice on invoicing, accounting and filing a tax return…
Always agree your fee and travel in advance as turning up on the night and demanding a fee and XX amount for travel is not so professional. If a promoter has already allocated a set fee/ expenses, they won’t be happy with any unforeseen extras that aren’t in their budget. The only exception to this being ‘door split’ shows where money will be divided up after the show and split between all concerned parties.
Agree in advance when you’ll be paid…
Upon being booked, some performers issue a terms and conditions of booking document. While this is more for professional performers and headliners (as most shows will have their own payment terms) it’s very useful to take a few tips on board. In it is usually stated how much, including expenses, is to be paid and how it will be paid (which can be in cash on the night or direct to the performer’s bank account within a certain amount of time). It’s okay to drop any questions about how and when you’ll be paid in an email, in fact, we’d suggest this was the best route as both yourself and the producer will have an agreed written record of the payment situation.
Bringing up payment after a show
A lot of performers find approaching a producer after a show to ask for payment awkward. While many producers will get in there first, and pay a performer right away, there may be times when you, as a performer, need to make the first move. Having a readily prepared invoice takes the pressure off, as you can simply ask, ‘Would you like my invoice now?’ which opens up the discussion.
A professional way to deal with payment as not only will you have a record of what is going to be paid, but the producer will also have your record as a receipt of what they’ve paid out. Invoices should legally include:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique identification number.
- Your details, such as name, contact details,
- Producer’s details, company name and/or company/producer’s address and contact details
- A clear description of what you are charging for (eg how many acts and for which show)
- how much you payment are due – either in total or broken down to show expenses
- The date of the show (when you supplied the services)
- The total due (if any amount has been paid, clearly state this as part paid and state the total owed).
You can find loads of invoice templates online, but as an example, here’s one we knocked up… Feel free to use (but don’t forget to add your own details!!). Keep it uncluttered and professional looking, as invoices you’ve spent hours designing with fancy coloured ink just are a waste of time.
Signing a payment slip
This is so the producer has a record of any money that has been paid out. The show/production will no doubt be declared as a business to HMRC so a producer will have to account for any cash that has been paid out so they don’t look like the show is making more profit than it is, which is why they will get you to sign for any cash you take.
How to deal with unpaid invoices
Staying on top of invoices is always advisable, and making a spreadsheet listing all your invoices, the date and details is the best way, after all, this is your money we’re talking about. We usually enter the invoices in the chart in a red font, changing them to black once they’ve been paid. Simple and effective to easily see what the score is. Always a very tricky situation, but if there’s more red invoices on the chart, it’s now 3 months since you did the show and there’s still been no payment it is time to take action. After all, you are entitled to be paid for a show that has agreed to pay you. Try dropping a friendly reminder email, such as, “Dear XX, Just dropping you a reminder that the attached invoice has still not been paid, could you let me know what the progress is on this…” or words to that effect usually do the trick as sometimes people genuinely forget. If that is not effective, you will need to change your invoice to a red ‘overdue’ invoice and drop another more assertive email stating that the invoice is now over due – failing that, pick up the phone. There’s loads of helpful advice on the gov.uk website on how to take action, including guidelines on ‘late payment interest’ which you, as a self employed person/small business are allowed to charge if you want to: https://www.gov.uk/late-commercial-payments-interest-debt-recovery/charging-interest-commercial-debt
If you are earning money then you must disclose it to HMRC. It’s really simple to do, just phone up your local tax office (you can find out who this is by entering your postcode and ‘local tax office’ into a google search) and they will talk you through the steps and set it up with you on the phone.
Doing your accounts and keeping receipts…
This is a must for anyone earning as you will need to know how much has been spent and how much income has been achieved. Keep all receipts as ‘hard copy’ -which means any online/computer files must be printed. If you’ve spent money on a costume, keep the receipt, if you’ve paid to have your hair done for a show, keep the receipt, if you’ve paid for promotional material such as photo shoots, business cards, websites, travelled to a show, stayed in a hotel for a show, etc etc… keep the receipt. It helps to log each receipt as you get it in a spread sheet, with how much was paid, in date order and file receipts in envelopes marked with the corresponding month so you don’t have a massive pile at the end of the year to work through. This method means you can also clearly see your income (if you are entering all your invoices onto a spread sheet as you go, as outlined above) set against your outgoings.
That dreaded tax return…
If you have declared your earnings to HMRC, each tax year you will be sent a Tax Return form. While some find a tax return intimidating (yes, there’s lots of confusing boxes and things like that), paying for an accountant to fill it in sometimes isn’t worth the while. There are a lot of packages available online to help and one we like is Taxcalc.com which is recognised by HMRC. They offer a downloadable programme for around £25 which looks just like the tax return but when you enter your tax code, it highlights only the parts which are relevant to you and works out how much tax you need to pay – or how much of a rebate you are due. You can file this programme directly onto the HMRC website too, as your return.