The players behind the Broadway hit Hamilton have negotiated a groundbreaking deal: The fixed pay, work-for-hire performers will now get a share of the profits. It means further distributing the half million dollars the smash has coming in every week.
The New York Times broke the story, and it is worth excerpting in length:
The deal, which was announced by a lawyer representing more than two dozen actors and dancers who were part of the show's development and first productions, is a major victory for the cast and could have ripple effects in the theater industry, where the huge success of "Hamilton," and the lack of profit-sharing, catalyzed a growing debate about actor compensation.
The agreement is unlikely to make any of the performers rich, but the money could make a significant difference in their lives; the base salary for a Broadway performer is about $1,900 a week (stars often make more), and many actors have significant periods of unemployment between jobs.
This is a deep dive into the history of trade unions, theatre politics and Broadway echelons, but it also shows the importance of you owning and getting rewarded for a piece of your own work - whether you are working for another, doing a side hustle or becoming a full-time entrepreneur.
There are three great steps to make sure you get your piece of the pie:
Document your work: According to the Times, the actors spent a great deal of time creating and molding their respective characters in the play and adding to the overall narrative. Luckily, they had enough evidence to prove their point. Creation is a messy process, so it is essential that you keep track of your contributions, whether it be archiving email conversations for prosperity or having trusted third-parties around when you have important conversations or transactions. It can be easy to keep things casual and friendly, but things can change quickly when your business starts bringing in millions of dollars.
Remember your work is worthless - until it isn't: When we launched our startup Cuddlr, me and my co-founders spent a good amount of time discussing not only our roles, but our ownership. It was honest, uncomfortable and even a bit emotional, but we all decided on percentages - even though our app didn't even have a valuation yet. Those difficult talks were a blessing when, less than a year later, we were acquired. Imagine if we waited to talk about percentages until after an offer was on the table? When you are getting involved or starting something new, treat the business as if it is worth something already.
Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate: All is not lost, even if you have loose documentation and missed the early ownership discussions. Try to boil your contributions down to a few bulletpoints highlighting your essential role in the success. Also, remind all parties about the size of the pie: If the finances are on the rise, then more percentage points or profits can be had by all.
One of the most famous late negotiators was Steve Ballmer. As Microsoft employee number 30, he parlayed his commission-based role as business manager into a 4 percent ownership of Microsoft's stock.
Three decades later, his little piece was worth $15.5 billion.