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lanhan

How does the holding system work when freelancing?

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Recently, I have been put on first hold and second hold from different places but then what do I do if I get an offer that's starting immediately or say it's a better offer among the two? Is there a legal thing that I should be aware of?

 

After all, should I really "care?" I mean no matter how many holds I get, they could all fall through, right? And I should keep looking for opportunity, right?

 

Anyone experiences this holding system? How do you handle this?

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The hold system is really a construct that helps producers, and not so much freelancers. It's akin to a promise made by the freelancer that they'll let the producer have first dibs on their time, but there's nothing binding about it. There's really no equivalent promise made by the producer, unless there's a booking. I've found holds to be uniformly flimsy and easily disregarded, while disregarding a booking is much less acceptable for either party.

 

I tend to disregard holds because of the problems you've mentioned. A producer can place as many holds on as many freelancers as s/he likes with no repercussions, theoretically compelling all of those people to wait for his/her feedback before taking other jobs. And I've missed out on bookings waiting for a release from some producer who gluttonously has 8 or 9 people on the hook for a small job. But in the end, you weigh how interested you may be in a potential job and how difficult you'll seem if you aren't willing to play the game.

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In my experience the hold system is extremely flawed.

Let me start by saying, in my opinion, freelancers should charge a fee for holds. that'll cut down on useless holds which are rampant.

 

If you have a 1st and 2nd hold and then a 3rd party comes in and wants to book you, what you're supposed to do is notify the 3rd party that they will have to 'challenge' your first two holds to see if either of them wish to book you before taking their booking. You should only take the 3rd party booking if the first two holds release you. This is the general operating procedures of holds, bookings, and challenges. There's no legally binding thing that keeps you to holds, but know that you can look like a dick if you take a job without notifying your first hold. Like Binky said, it's a game...

 

 

*edit - Binky beat me to it.

Edited by oeuf

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I agree, hold system is flawed and really only helpful to producers.

 

A strategy I've learned is to always keep "yourself" on 1st hold for yourself- if that makes sense. Basically, only accepting 2nd holds. Then if you have other requests for holds, you give them both 2nd hold. This gives you the option to just take the first job that is ready to book and not have to wait and clear your holds up the chain. It's not promising anyone first dibs, and not shooting yourself in the foot while waiting for a release or book. By leaving yourself as a 1st hold, you're also free to take a last minute project that you really want to take- but wouldnt otherwise be able to because of the previous holds...

 

Idk if this would work for everyone, but it's worked well for me.

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Wait, what happens when someone wants to challenge your first hold? Do you get in touch with the other people you've given "2nd hold"?

 

You are your "first hold". If they want to challenge it, you tell them you will get back to them. Then ask yourself if you want the job. If yes, call them back and say you were released and can be booked now.

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I use the first hold as my own hold method also, but be aware that producers are also on to this game and will leave you in the cold when it comes to other possible gigs.

I've overheard, on more than just a few occasions about producers bitching about freelancers that only give 2nd holds. I will, on rare occasions, give my first hold to places I like to work at, or at places where I know what project I will be working on or with who I will be working with (usually friends). Remember this hold game is a 2 sided coin.

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They really dont have a right to complain its either you have the gig to offer or you don't. I know sometimes they are waiting to hear back from potential clients if a job is coming in or not but I would think that you should only book an artist when youve 100% confirmed that you have the job. I've lost more than a few gigs when I first started about because I got caught up in first holds then a place wanted to book me then its like hold on let me see if my first holds wants me or not then the 1st hold takes all day to get back to you and they let you go but by then the other studio already books someone because they dont have time to wait around for you. I think producers should use more of a heads up system like hey heads up I might have this job if your interested you can wait to hear back if we have ir or if not its cool well catch you next time.

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I've been trying to do more of the heads up system that TrenZ mentioned above. Every now and then I get a complaint or miss out on a "potential" opportunity, but I find that the good producers/studios respect me and my time and are more concerned with having a long term relationship than putting out the fire they think might be coming up.

 

One thing I often do that gives producers more piece of mind is I'll allow them to book me for the first week, and then place me on hold for the second week of the project. That way they feel like they have less skin in the game and if someone is asking for my time I'm able to get an answer from them regarding week two pretty quickly.

 

As a freelancer you are running your own business whether you like it or not and the hold system takes the control of your business and gives it to someone who isn't thinking in your businesses best interest.

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@OP, while the status quot is not really in our favor and having yourself on a constant first hold is a good practice in theory, the holding system is in fact a status quot that we have to deal with unless you have the leverage that comes along with the end client requesting you specifically. Producers will have others on hold along side you if your not a guaranteed fill for he job they are bidding, inviting what is essentially competition to a potential gig for you. Trying to manipulate holding expectations to be more in your favor is just flat out a bad idea in the long run. Holds as we know them are not unique to us either, as I see it practiced in recording studios and stages as well.

 

So... here is what is expected by producers asking for holds, to answer your question point-blank. If you have a first hold and somebody else wants to book you for that time, you have to call the first hold immediately and tell them there is a challenge for your time. Hold request #1 must choose to confirm or release you for their requested dates within 24 hours. Once they confirm a booking, you are on the hook for that time no matter what.

 

I never personally understood anything beyond first hold in terms of both how we are expected to handle them or even how it benefits the producer to begin with. Seriously, how can a second hold even help the producer? A good producer's job is to somehow get all of the stars lined up perfectly on specific dates and shouldn't ever rely on a third hold. I don't know why, but you will be asked for second and third hold requests, to which you can only nod and say yes. If someone wants a 2nd hold, that is on them, really. Fine, whatever. Didn't change your plans one bit. They don't know who your first hold is, and all that matters to you are confirmed bookings. After the first hold, the only thing that makes a real difference is a confirmed booking request.

 

Third holds are just complete bullshit and basically communicate that either your avoiding having to turn it down for reasons outside of unavailability or the client is not in a good place and desperate. Just say that your on a hold and if they want to challenge it with a confirmed booking let you know so you can have an answer for them within 24 hours.

 

Now, if you agree to a first hold and they confirm for 3 days of work but something comes up for a month of work that overlaps, too bad. Unfortunately our positions can't really be covered by someone else in such circumstances. Pulling the rug out from under a producer's schedule is one of the best ways to end relations with a client.

 

Also make sure that if your finally booked on one of the gigs send out an update of your schedule to everyone who inquired about your availability.

Edited by AromaKat

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Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions for this tricky thing. Eventually one of the producer didn't get the job and released me the next day so I am back in the waiting game with this one left. Hope eventually I will get this one work out. Thanks again, all!

 

Lan

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That is the problem with the current mograph studio model. 3 people are the core staff and when you get a job you ramp up to handle the production. It's kinda of the way the game is played. But I do like the idea of book yourself first and everyone else challenges.

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