Music is a business. Business thrives on the contract. Why are contracts so tricky at the local level?
Have you ever had the issue of a contract sink a gig?
- Well, I’ve lost a gig because bar owner wouldn’t agree to the contract – too wordy
- Once, yes. I was trying to set up a gig with a relatively established restaurant/bar
- The manager was definitely opposed to a contract, really took offense
- Gig went well, brought a lot of people, but never took our call again
Have you ever had a contract not honored by the other party?
- Not really – no part that actually mattered (food!)
- Oh, but the verbal contract…yes. Countless times.
- Luckily not… more often jobs for other talent (IOW, working for an artist directly and then they don’t hold up their end)
What do you look for in a contract?
- In general, I look for it to spell out expectations
- It’s almost at times, more a way to manage the conversation
- I have one that I got from an established booking agency – super helpful/professional (recent gig story)
- Cancellation clauses and notice… act of God? venue double books?
- Sufficient power and space
- Specifics about the time to play and breaks, proper attire if it’s not a typical pub
- Recordings, merch… other things that might keep the band from recognizing income
What about contracts other than those for gigs?
- Band agreements — If your band is making real money, this is a must
- Covering stuff like what happens to joint purchases
- Who gets paid and how if a song is selling?
- Recording Studio Agreement
- No rights to music and payment terms
- Booking agents/Band Managers
- Indie label contracts (production companies appearing like established “labels”
- All the strings without the benefits