Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-30-05, 11:57 PM   #1
Senior Member
Isabella's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo-zoo, USA
Posts: 403
Default Ethics of non-Compete

I'm curious as to what other performers think of this situation.

I run an act that I see as a waystation - I'm not a big enough deal for it to be anyone else's permanent livelihood as it is mine, but I work with younger people who are not independent performers on their own, and who learn skills and performance techniques from me before moving on to other things. I have ex-group members who are in Chicago or LA pursuing commercial and film careers, someone trying to get into Blue Man Group, someone who I'm helping make a solo show, one person joined the Peace Corps, one went on to grad school, etc. I generally get them from colleges I've been a guest artist at, or from people who approach me at festivals and want to learn how to do what we do.

People who work for me generally make a living wage equal to Equity minimum at the very least and often much higher for less work, plus tips which can be substantial and are equally split. I provide transportation to gigs, handle the lodging (either the client buys it or I structure our fee so that I can buy it - it's not standard in a lot of our venues), and sometimes pay tuition and expenses to workshops we attend to learn advanced skills. Each year I also take one college student intern who makes very little in pay (though still more than what an intern at a traditional theatre would make) and shares equally in tips, usually doubling the flat pay or more. I buy all costumes, props, and equipment and provide rehearsal space.

Our first couple of years as a company, the performers have been good, but the majority of our gigs have been gotten on my reputation as a 10-year+ performer in the venues that we mostly work in. I do all the booking, which I build into the fee I charge the client.

I ask my performers to sign a year-long contract that contains a non-compete clause - they cannot work for anyone else while they are working for me, unless they book it through me and I take a cut. They also cannot work for any venue we worked for, or for any client we met while they were working for me, unless they book it through me, for a year after our contract expires. This is to prevent them from going to a client and selling them a cheaper version of the same show next year.

I had a person who worked for me this year and was very good tell me that s/he wants to work for another company that performs in the same venues we do with a similar but not identical show, that my person met because we were performing in the same venue. I was told this after being fed a line about "not knowing what I want to do with my life next year" as a reason not to re-sign with me, on the eve of having been offered the other job. I don't have a problem with him/her working for the other company, as there were personality conflicts with us and I think it will be an excellent learning and training experience, but I am insisting that since they met through my company's gig, it needs to be booked through me, and since it violates the non-compete about venues for the next year, ditto. My person is very unhappy about this, feels that s/he is being "owned" by me and complains that my "business ethics suck."

I don't want to stop anyone from working - I just want the 10% I think I've earned by taking an (in this case) unemployed college dropout with some circus skills who had never spoken a line on stage and spending a year making him/her highly employable as a performing group member in our venues. I'm also willing to help with contract negotiations if the person desires.

Legally, I'm also in a venue where poaching other people's performers is starting to happen more, and I'm willing to make an expensive and time-consuming issue of this for the sake of precedent as well as my own financial well-being.

Any thoughts?
Isabella is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-31-05, 03:58 AM   #2
Unused member
Peter's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Milford, OH, U.S.A.
Posts: 288

Allison, both of you knew what the contract said when it was signed. You have the right to enforce the contract or even to insist that the welcher be ordered by a court not to perform for the other company.

Another thing you could do is talk to the hiring company and let them know that this person may do the same to them if they take the risk of hiring him/her.

Good luck with the problem and welcome to p-net.

Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis
Unencumbered by the Thought Process.
Peter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-31-05, 08:30 AM   #3
Steven Ragatz
Senior Member
Steven Ragatz's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 493

If you are protected by a signed contract with the individual, then you may have to just to knuckle under and enforce it. At some point the phrase "It's nothing personal - just business" get uttered. You may need to sit down with the parties involved and go over the contract to "remind" them of the agreement.

If you feel you want to temper the situation a bit, you might offer to "help" the person make it out on their own by passing along some gigs or contacts that you know you will never follow up on. Of course this doesn't preclude the conditions of your agreement, or your decision to enforce them, but it may offer a friendly gesture that you can offer if you wish to try to maintain good relations.

You have to protect your interests. The details in the situation will determine if legal action or burning personal or professional bridges is something that needs to be seriously considered. If the money and lost business involved isn't worth it, you may just want to cut the individual loose and add them on your own black list.

Steven Ragatz
Steven Ragatz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-31-05, 05:40 PM   #4
Senior Member
Chance's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: on the road
Posts: 522

The non-compete phase is just one year after termination, and your cut of the work in question is just 10%??? I find that more than fair (3 years/20% should be more like it), and anyone who would try to undercut you deserves what's coming.

Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-06, 12:08 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 178

"My person is very unhappy about this, feels that s/he is being "owned" by me and complains that my "business ethics suck.""

Hi Isabella,
Apparently your "person' doesn't know what ethics are. They did sign the contract? If you feel that it is worth your time, then go ahead and take them to'll need to consult a lawyer to determine just how much time we are talking about, and how enforceable any court order may be.
When(occasionally) my "Sing-along with Kevin" show is booked by my friends at Willow Entertainment Agency, any work I may get at the gig has to go through that agency, so they get their cut. Anything else would be clearly unethical.
Happy New Year from Boston! - Ciao - Kev
harmonicakev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-06, 09:01 PM   #6
Evan Young
Senior Member
Evan Young's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Mid Atlantic (PA)
Posts: 1,002
Send a message via AIM to Evan Young

I agree with everything said so far.

Evan Young is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:02 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.