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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » An ethical dilemma... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

BIlly James
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Hi folks,

I'd be interested to know your opinion on an ethical matter.

I performed shows for a company in schools this year (the show belonged to the company).
I reached the end of my contract but they asked me to do their Christmas show as well (no contract).

Last week I did a mail out for MY 2005 shows. The letters that went to the schools I had already done this year, started with a sentence reminding them of my performance of the other company's show.

Well the other company is all bent out of shape over it, and have actually contacted one of the schools that booked me for next year, and talked them into cancelling my show.

Initially I was outraged, but thinking about it soberly, I'm not sure who is in the wrong...me or them.
Keep in mind that I am going into schools currently, and performing their Christmas show.

They have told me that I should not market to any schools that I have done for them while I am still working for them. Sounds like a good point, but I'm marketing for next year?!?!?

Anyway, I'd love to get your opinions on this if you get a moment.

Cheers
Billy
taneous
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Interesting dilemma. My immediate reaction as a performer is to say that you're the performer and you made the shows what they are - so go for it.
However from a business point of view it does seem a bit unethical, in that if I work for a company, or have a contract with a company (outside of magic - just generally), then I'm essentially working with the company's client base. It's the same as if I develop a product while working for a company - the product is owned by the company - not me. So in essence, you're poaching clients from the company you worked through, unless of course your contract with them states it differently.
Andy Wonder
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I am not sure I fully understand the situation from your post, but I have several questions.

Do you want to continually work for this company? If you want to work with them in the future it may be wise to keep them on side.

Have you tried to come to any agreement for another contract for 2005? If they decline to use you for new shows in 2005 they must understand a man has gotta eat & you can and will continue to work without them. You could use that angle to sell them on a new contract for them to sponsor more shows.

Did you have any restraint of trade clause in your contract with the company? I assume not.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
BIlly James
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Quote:
On 2004-11-12 02:12, Andy Walker wrote:
I am not sure I fully understand the situation from your post, but I have several questions.

Do you want to continually work for this company? If you want to work with them in the future it may be wise to keep them on side.



Did you have any restraint of trade clause in your contract with the company? I assume not.


No, I will not be working with them after this year. The year started out looking slightly lean, so I went into this contract to perform their show (wish I had never done it, because the year panned out quite well)


There was no stipulation whatsoever about the distribution of my own marketing materials, or anything to do with exclusivity in the contract. I should point out that the contract expired in October. The show I'm doing for them now is really out of a professional courtesy more than anything else.

The main problem that they have is the fact the schools have received my marketing for next year, and yet I'm still going into these school this year, but under this company's banner.

Thanks for your thoughts guys, I really appreciate them.
I just read this post again and I appear to be trying to justify my actions.....ooops Smile
JamesinLA
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If your contract with them does not cover this situation, then they are way out of line. In fact, I feel they are guilty of interfering wrongfully with your just efforts to earn a living. As I said, this is all sitpulated on them not having this situation covered in your last contract with them. Talk to an attorney before they start cancelling other shows that you set up yourself! Show him your contract. If the attorney agrees, get him to write a lawyer letter to them to stop it!

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Emazdad
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If they are an agent, they normally have clauses that cover future shows that come from the one your doing for them. If it was a company and you were just sponsored by them, then there is no such clause or even a reason to have one.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
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"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
JesterMan
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Legally: What is in the contract?

Ethically: Who developed the relationship with these specific schools? If you had no relationship with them prior to the company bringing you in, and the company was acting as your agent, you should not be soliciting them (so soon), especially by referring back to the show done for the other company.

Perhaps you can come to an agreement with the company to provide them with a reasonable payment for any schools that you have already sent out information to which desire you to return. That way, it keeps both you and the company from the embarrassment likely caused by what happened in that school they got to cancel you. The school administration may not hold either party in good favor after a mess like that.

I've had some dilemmas come up where I was actually requesting people in my networking groups to provide me with contact info for people to contact in specific companies: I then got a booking at those companies through an agent, in one case literally later the same day I asked for the contact from my group. I will be required to wait for a period of time before going after these places directly. (The networking groups, for those unfamiliar, are groups of people which get together regularly for the purpose of sharing information about companies where the members might market/sell their products or services. We provide the other members with names of contact people in these companies based upon our prior relationship, making it an easier introduction than a cold call.)
JM Smile Smile

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Dennis Michael
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What does your contract say?

A contract is binding until it it needs to be renewed or until the terms are met.

If the Agent doesn't have a clause in there about you contacting the schools, it's his mistake. A professional agent would know of this.

If there is a clause then, you are binded by it.

In my seminar contracts, I have a clause that the instructors cannot compete or run a similar business within 100 mile radis of where I teach for the next five years. Such action requires the instructor to deliver all fees received to my corp.

There are no ethical dilemmas within a contract because they are all covered within that contract. If it isn't then it you're free and clear to perform. (That's the reason for a contract!)
Dennis Michael
Peter Marucci
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How much work did the company put into promoting your shows?
Was this new ground that they opened up for you?
There are simply too many unknown factors here for anyone to give sound advice.
RonCalhoun
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Quote:
On 2004-11-12 05:13, JesterMan wrote:
Legally: What is in the contract?

Ethically: Who developed the relationship with these specific schools? If you had no relationship with them prior to the company bringing you in, and the company was acting as your agent, you should not be soliciting them (so soon), especially by referring back to the show done for the other company.


JesterMan is right. Who developed the relationship with these specific schools?

Am I right to assume "the other company" was making a profit?

If you had no prior dealings with said schools, and now you’re asking those same schools to book you, which means they probably won’t use “the other company” it’s unethically.

Ron Calhoun
Rob Johnston
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I would cancel the christmas show...if they are backstabbing you, then why reward them?
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
Leland Stone
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Hiya, Billy:

Let's say you have an assistant working with you on a weekly stage gig, taking away your Lota Bowls, bringing your Dove Trays and what not. After each show, the assistant's in the lobby, passing out HIS/HER own cards to the managers, staff members, and other potential clients.

How would this make you feel?

Leland
Dennis Michael
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The assistant is under contract right? which forbids her/him from doing this?
Dennis Michael
BIlly James
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Quote:
On 2004-11-12 06:44, Peter Marucci wrote:
How much work did the company put into promoting your shows?
Was this new ground that they opened up for you?
There are simply too many unknown factors here for anyone to give sound advice.



I really appreciate all of the advice guys, it's definitely given me food for thought.

I'll try to shed a little more light regarding Peter's questions. However, this is a long and conveluted story so I was just trying to keep it to the bare bones.

The compnay wrote their own show and contracted me to perform it. One of the reasons they booked me was because they understood that I had been doing shows in schools for years, so they were aware that I market to schools.

I have just done a blanket mail out to all the schools in the area, but I've worded the letter differently to the ones I performed for this other company, to let them know who I was. (ie. I'd done this other company's show for them).

In a past life I would act as an agent for big events (booking someone to dress the room, catering, entertainment etc.) so I know what it is like when people turn up to your gig and hand out business cards. I'm just not sure I see this as the same thing, that's why I have found it confusing.

Thanks again guys, I really appreciate the input. (especially if it vindicates me Smile)
Wolflock
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I don't believe ethics plays a part here. It was unethical for them to get the school to cancel your show with out first consulting you and telling you what they were going to do and why. Magicians, even if they are more ethical than most people, are still business men too. Therefore business is business and like in love and war, everything is fair. Tell them you will still do their show for them, but also explain to them that you think they were wrong in doing what they did and explain why? Be up front with them and get legal advice if they keep doing it.

Regards
Wolflock
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Starrpower
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Most businesses have a "non compete" agreement for these kinds of situations.

You are, of course, cutting off all ties and negating any future work you may have with these people, which may mean nothing since you stated you are not working for them after this. Personally, what you are doing smells a little to me ... They did give you work, and hired you to do their own party, and I think common courtesy would dictate you at least sit down and discuss it with them.

Having said that, it IS an open market, and free enterprise reigns. Unless you had a specific agreement with them not to do business with the schools after your contract with them was up, you are probably okay.

Keep in mind, hwever, that the world is a smaller place than you think, and this could come back to nip you in the backside. They have already talked a school into not using you; they probably have a longer track record and better relations within the industry, and that could hurt you.

I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong here, but rather a situation in which you should consider the future consequences of what you do today.
RJE
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Hey Billy,

It sounds like you might have already burned your bridges with this company. If you have met the terms of your contract with them and the contract has therefore been completed, you are under no further obligation to them. You probably will not work for them again and you are free to compete with them for further shows.

Many years ago an agent got me an audition to work at a national fair. I got the job and he took 25% of a sizable contract. The following year, I did not hear from the agent at all until he called and said the fair would like me back. I said great and he took another 25%. I approached the fair myself the next year and said if they would like to book me again, just call me direct. They did and I performed there another 2 years and kept the 25% agent fee for myself. My point was that since I was not exclusively represented by this agent and since he did nothing to either promote or book me at any other time through the year, that I did not owe him anything more. He was furious and said that I would never work for him again. That was 19 years ago. It didn't hurt my work schedule or my reputation in the business.

I have always stated that had this agent promoted me through the year and provided me with work on a regular basis (even sporadic basis), even though I was not exclusive to him, I would have continued to use him and not "steal the gig." That would only have been right and in fact is the way that I deal with all of the agents that represent me. He did not, so I did not.

Rob
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