|I recall when I started out performing, I had a tabla gig at a festival in London and the agent who had then found me the gig asked me to sign a contract saying that I'm going to perform and I'm going to be paid £150 for the 50 minute slot for an Indian Classical show. At that time, I used to think what's the bloody point of a performance contract? All I need to do is get on stage, speak my thoughts through the drum, get off stage, get paid and that would be my day's work! However I did sign it to keep on his terms and although I did get paid, I didn't realise at the time what the point of them were.
As my knowledge in the music industry increases, I found out the reason why that agent had a contract, and I feel its also important for me to share the same with you here, so read through carefully and see how you could implement in the same in your music life. I've also teamed up with famous music lawyer, Brett Trout, to give you two examples of performance contracts. When I came across Brett, he said, "The goal is to lay out the deal so everyone is on the same page. The more fair a contract is, the more likely everyone will agree to sign it."
The contract is simply there to keep your terms civil and so that nobody takes advantage of what you may have decided prior to the event. Of course, being reasonable, it's obvious that the contract does not have to be used for all your performances. For example, if you're playing a house concert or a coffee shop gig, there's no real reason to have a contract as its only you and maybe a few others, and a "handshake" or verbal agreement is good enough. However when it comes to a festival gig, they have tens of performers lined up and things can get easily forgotten with all the payments that the festivals finance department have to deal with it and therefore its sensible to have a performance contract signed. Personally, I only tend to use the contract about 4 times a year - so as you can see, its best to take it as it comes.
Another important factor to note is that there isn't a perfect contract for a situation. All contracts will vary and its up to you to be able to note the differences and be sure to make any changes should they be required. With the two samples that you can see at the end, you'll begin to get an idea of what may be expected in a contract.
First, lets look at the basics of what should be included in a contract:
• Date, Time, Venue, Compensation and Signature - This is most important, and in some cases is all thats required. For the compensation, best to include when and how you will receive payment
• Performance Details - include timing, description, accompaniment details, whats to be performed
• Recording, Reproduction - Ensure this is cleared up. It is normally up to you, the artist, if you would like them to reproduce your performance at a later date. Be sure to give them authorisation either way.
• Merchandise - do you have the right to sell your merchandise there? Be sure to clear this up.
• Meals, Transport, Lodging - Are these expenses reimbursed? Ask, if its not on the contract. You don't want to have to spend bucks and think they'll pay you when they won't.
• Insurance/Security - What is being decided about personal liability insurance?
I hope this gives you a brief idea of what should be included.
Kavit Haria is The Musicians' Coach. Kavit is the director of
InnerRhythm, a company that prides on providing success solutions for
musicians worldwide. Kavit sends out a musician development newsletter to
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