Have you ever been paid by a friend to work on their music project or have you ever paid a friend to work on yours?
It can be pretty uncomfortable owing a friend money or asking a friend for money that they owe you. We’ve all been there.
Music is more fun to make with friends.
I mean don’t we all just want to retire someday and all own a house in Crieve Hall and have our own personal home studios and spend all day making music with our friends?!
Making music with somebody is a great way to become friends. I almost always become friends with the people I make music with unless they ask me to put a 32nd note tambourine in their song. Then we become enemies…
How do I avoid getting hurt and feeling resentful?
First off, I know what this feels like. I have had struggles in this area. This can be really hard, and there’s always room to grow.
A proper agreement or contract should protect both parties from feeling hurt and resentful.
I once heard someone actually call contracts, “disagreements”, because they are meant to lay down the rules when parties disagree. That’s what they are there for. They offer protection to both sides if such a situation arises.
There’s a stigma surrounding contracts and working with friends. Ewww Zach that’s way too formal and businessy mannnn. I get it. It can be awkward coming up to a friend with a contract and asking them to review and sign it, but would you rather feel awkward for five minutes or hurt and resentful towards a friend?
Working for free may not be a good idea.
Here’s a surefire way to be annoying and likely piss off a friend: assume they are going to work for free without any mention of money or the value they offer.
It is not wrong to work for free or to honestly communicate your lack of a budget, but it is always the service provider’s right to decide whether they will work without pay.
Have you ever played a show for a friend and they didn’t pay you? With no mention of money at all… That’s no fun. We need to create boundaries.
Here’s the thing that people often miss: your boundaries are for you.
You set your own boundaries. Boundaries are not about what other people should do to you or for you. Boundaries are about what you will do when other people misbehave. People will misbehave. People can do whatever they want. Your boundaries and your reactions are up to you. For example:
I may think it’s really funny to spit in my hand right before I shake hands with any one I greet. I may do this every time I see you. But you could set a boundary,
“Hey man, I don’t like having your spit in my hand so I’m not going to ever shake your hand again if you do that. I’m not judging you for doing that or saying you can’t do it. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you what I will do if you do that to me again.”
Setting boundaries with your friends can actually be really kind and loving!
Say no to your friend if you don’t want to do it.
If you know the conditions of a gig are not what you want then don’t do it. Say no. If someone is really your friend then they would rather hear a no from you and an honest explanation instead of have you go through with it and be hurt and resentful towards them.
Be honest about your budget.
If your friend charges $150 / song to play drums, but you only have $100 budgeted for drums be honest and upfront about that. Also if you aren’t in a rush you could also just postpone tracking for one month or until you save $50.
Think about what you would want.
How would you like it if your paycheck was delivered to you at random and your “money in” was always in a state of “tbd”… You wouldn’t like that would you? So stop doing that to your friends. If you’ve agreed to pay, then pay promptly and at the agreed upon time.
If you are the one being paid don’t be afraid to follow up.
Stop haggling just to “get a deal” from your friends.
If you have the money, then pay your friend what they are worth. If you don’t have the money don’t haggle, just be honest about where you are at.
Your creative work is valuable. You offer something unique and beautiful and so do your friends. See the beauty in what your friends do and respect the value of that. We all want more money. We all want to be highly valued for what we bring to the table. Getting our shit together in the money department I believe will actually lead to better projects and better art being made. We all spend a considerable amount of brain calories thinking about money. You do yourself and your friends a great deal of service, and enable them to spend all those brain calories instead on creativity, when you handle the money stuff with integrity and honesty.
Founder of @lostharbormusic