Strategies for dealing with bad bookings

Hey! I’m not sure if this kind of topic is welcome here, since a thread like this has a certain derail-potential, so this is first just a question to the mods and the community.

I recently made a bad experience with not receiving payment from a show where I was booked. In other words, my invoice was not paid (yet). And since there are many topics about playing live on here, I thought it might be helpful to point out some bad apples or offer help. But I don’t want to start a witch hunt or anything.

So what do you think? Good topic / bad topic?

After talking to the mods, I changed the title to sharing helpful strategies on dealing with situations like these. Since that is more positive.

I have been self employed for a long time and know a thing or two about unpaid invoices. In Germany, there is the “Mahnung” and you could even sell your invoice (with a loss) to an “Inkasso” firm that will make sure it will get paid. Nothing about this is really fun and at least the second should be avoided as long as possible.

I get that this is a more community fit approach, but it does not help others from falling in the same trap.


From what i’ve heard it’s entirely common for invoices to go unpaid for weeks or months. This is the sad fact of life for self employed people and artists. I say this not to excuse the behaviour but as a calibration point for how frustrated you should be.

I don’t know about other countries but where I live if you issue invoice you need to pay taxes even if you did not recieved payment from the other side. So having an inpaid invoice screws with you twofold.
About list it would probably need to be heavily moderated, so maybe this topic could be used to share strategies how to make sure that rider will be respected, payments will be made etc?

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A lecturer I had (who had a long and successful career as a self-employed musician) shared his advice to put a “payment due date” on invoices. Not entirely sure if it holds up legally (even the lecturer was unsure), but being an agreed upon contract, it would be unwise for the person paying to not meet the clearly labelled due date, and apparently worked quite well.

It also makes conversations regarding payments more formal: “I haven’t received payment by the due date as specified on the contract” carries more weight than “when will I be getting paid?”.


Reinvoice them with an additional late payment fee.

My partner works as an artist and it seems like this can happen a lot in certain situations where you’re required to invoice for your services (dealing with galleries, institutions etc) and all you can do is chase down your payment more aggressively.

Fortunately, in my life as a musician in bands, I don’t remember ever having been screwed by a venue or promoter. Maybe once or twice when the person in question in charge of payment vanished before the end of the night, but generally in the gigging circles I move in, you get paid on the night, whether your contractual guarantee or what was agreed verbally, rather than by invoice.

Thinking about it now, we did get held for ransom by the owners of a somewhat dubious pub once but that was because the promoter didn’t want to pay the venue their fee and had done a runner. That was awkward.

Just to note, if you are in the UK you are entitled by law to charge interest & certain fees on unpaid invoices under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act.