Helpful tips for organists/musicians - don't be a victim
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,555
    Not a week passes without me seeing a post on Facebook or other social media that goes like this:

    "Oh woe is me... I played for a wedding yesterday at a church I've never been to before and then the couple didn't have my check. I still haven't received it and now the bride and groom's cell phone numbers say their lines have been disconnected. Oh woe is me."

    Obviously I've embellished the above.

    But organists have this weird mentality that they have to be the victim all the time and just go along with it all, sobbing into their handkerchief.

    Stop that.

    If I'm playing an outside event for someone I don't know (like wedding couples), I insist on cash before I play - and I mean it. If the sweaty envelope of cash isn't there when I arrive, I ask for it, and if they don't have it or say they can't/won't get it, I leave. I communicate this to them clearly when we talk - there are no surprises for them, they know my policy. I've never had to leave. I've never been waiting for payment for months or been unpaid. It's 2018 not 1701 - if they forgot the money at home they don't have to ride a horse fifty miles to go get it - there's an ATM within 5 minutes of everywhere.

    If I'm playing an event for an established church (meaning they have their own building and sign), but I don't know them (especially if they're another denomination), I insist on a check before I play - and I mean it. Only if I know you, your pastor, or your church and that you're good for it will I wait for a check. I let people know this policy VERY CLEARLY when they contact me to do an event (thus I'm not telling them at the last second). Again, I've never had a problem. Once or twice a priest has had to "run over to the office" and get the check for me before the event began - but they've always done this.

    I don't believe I've ever lost any opportunities because of the above policies - usually if someone is contacting me to do an event it's because they've already made up their mind they want to hire me, I don't advertise anywhere so nobody is opening the yellow pages to "organist" and calling me. I tell them what it takes to hire me, and they do it.

    Figure out what your policies are - then stick to them. Don't be a victim.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,347
    The funeral home that works with our parish is fantastic when it comes to this. There is always a cheque either before or after the Mass. There is never waiting.

    Once there was a miscommunication. I don't know why, but two organists were called in to play a funeral. The secretary called the funeral home to explain the matter and the next week the second organist, who did not play, had a cheque for the amount he should have received if he had.

    It's great not to have hurt feelings and frustrations.
    Thanked by 2Carol cesarfranck
  • TCJ
    Posts: 600
    My policy for weddings is 50% payment at least a week prior to the wedding and the rest paid on the day of. Since I've been telling people that, they have always paid 100% up front and well ahead of time.

    I was burned once when I first started and the person didn't pay for the funeral (nor did the funeral home which went out of business a few months later).
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • donr
    Posts: 934
    At our church the church gets paid the Monday prior to the special event. The musicians get paid by the church the following week.