Producing Live Events, Master Tip 4: Ask for a Down Payment

Total Webcasting is a webcasting service provider out of New York that produces dozens of events a month, and thousands since its inception in 2007. Total Webcasting is unique in that it produces virtually all events for its customers, while owning the streaming server and content management system used for live and on-demand delivery, providing the complete “glass-to-glass” experience. Through their experience, the company has mastered the art of the problem-free webcast. I’ve been after company president Robert Feldman to share his tips with my readers for years; he’s agreed to share his top ten in Letterman order. This is number four.

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This next problem is mainly for vendors or freelancers, but it’s one that in-house people should also understand. In a phrase, it’s about getting paid. Even after ten years of business, this continues to be the more challenging and emotionally draining part of the business.

In most cases, you will start investing time and incurring expenses as soon as a webcast is booked, whether in planning, interviewing the speakers and organizers, or scouting the location. And you’ll likely have to pay the bulk of your expenses, like wages, travel, or equipment rental, as soon as the job is complete. Then, even if you submit your invoice promptly, it could be two months or longer before you get paid.

Though large corporations and government and educational institutions are great customers to have, sometimes it seem like the bigger the organization, the slower the payment schedule, and the more hoops you have to jump through to get paid. This is exacerbated by the fact that the accounting departments in larger organizations are separate from the people you worked with and care more about their cash flow than yours.

One strategy that we’ve used successfully is to ask for a down payment before starting the job. Many organizations are setup to do this, so it’s not a problem at all. I’ve never seen a customer offended by the request; if anything, the folks we deal with understand the cash flow issues, and are aware that final payment often takes a while to process. Like they say, it never hurts to ask, and even if just a few of your customers agree, it will go a long way towards relieving your cash flow concerns.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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