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Contracts for gigs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by AndreyR, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. What is your story of drafting and SUCCESSFULLY USING a "gig contract"?
    What I mean is, you write out something like, My name is this, my clients name is this, the gig is on this date and time, if I won't get paid, there will be some sort of legal consequence. I want to start doing this, because honestly, word of mouth agreements are "not even worth the paper they could be written on". I heard a musician can join some sort of musician's union, pay dues, and could actually have them sue a client unwilling to pay. Also, has anyone ever refused to sign such an agreement, and did you still played anyway/didn't get paid?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2014
  2. I'm a member of the Canadian Federation of Musicians (part of the AFM). As a member, I get to use their standard contract which sets out the agreement (dates/times, pay, # of musicians, location, etc.) I've never had to take a client to court but if I did, the union would handle it all and take care of the legal fees. And if the court judgement sided with the client, the union would still pay me and my musicians the minimum fees for the gig out of their pocket.
    None of my clients have had a problem with a contract (it protects both parties) but usually I am being asked to provide music as a professional service for an event. In other types of situations, I don't think contracts are as common (some bar/restaurant gigs, less formal situations).
    I live in a government town and play mostly jazz for corporate functions and the like, so keep that it mind...
  3. sparkyfender2


    Nov 25, 2013
    What is a "government town?"

    No unions here locally. Bars and clubs here in my part of the Midwest would greet the sight of a contract with a sneer. No dice.

    In NYC, contracts might fly. Would love to learn how this works in the big towns.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  4. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    If this is for a local band to be playing out at random bars I don't think it's going to fly all that well, it's just not a standard operating procedure.
    Having a band that has never played at a venue ask them to sign a contract, when no other bands do, makes the band a PITA for the venue.
    Having a band that has played at the venue without a contract and now wants one all of the sudden makes the band a PITA for the venue.
    Both scenarios would result in the band not getting asked back.

    Now if it's a bigger band or bigger venues with higher pay it might be a different story.
  5. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    The person booking bands for most bar gigs doesn't have authority to sign a contract on behalf of the bar anyway. So, if you tell them you want to get a signed contract, they are going to say "okay, I'll get back to you" and then call the next band on their list.

    If my upfront cost to do the gig consists of driving an hour or two and that's about it, so that's all I stand to lose if I show up and they say "sorry, we double booked, so you guys are out", I certainly wouldn't put a target on my back by asking for a signed contract. I would risk the time and gas investment and never go back if they screwed me.

    If I played a gig and they tried to totally stiff me, well then I would probably call the police right in front of the person who booked me and explain that I was being criminally defrauded and I needed a police officer to come down, because I can't leave until I get paid. And I'm in fear of the person using violence on me to make me leave without getting paid. Being the first person to call the police always put the presumption of guilt on the other party.
    Sparker likes this.
  6. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    And since this is really a band management issue, it's heading there, and you should get decent advice pro and con there.
  7. I'm based in NYC, so it might be easier for me. I mostly play bars, and once in a while people here will try to stiff you.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Most small/medium places do not go for written contracts. If you do need one, you should speak with an attorney - you are seeking legal advice. Lay-persons do not have the knowledge.
  9. Quite a while ago, Fingerhutz had posted a generic band contract here on TB. I downloaded it, and can put it up if people are interested. It was pretty good if you're in a situation where you need to use a contract.

    We have only used it once, I think. Generally speaking, as others have mentioned, if you're a bar band and you flash the contract, the venues will probably move on to a different band. Most of our stuff is verbal agreement, and we've yet to get stiffed. Luckily, myself and the guitarist have played at most of the clubs/dives in our area at one time or another, so we have a good idea who's going to try to pork you and who isn't. Our band has a good relationship with about 5 local places that we have played multiple times, and never a hassle, so we don't worry about it.

    If we were doing bigger dollar shows, maybe weddings, corporate events, etc...., I would think the contract would be important. It's one thing to get stiffed for a couple hundred dollars, but to get stiffed on a $2500 gig would certainly hurt when you have no way to prove what your agreement was beyond a "he said, she said" type of thing. And in those types of situations, my feeling is that the people hiring you are probably expecting a contract to protect themselves, as well.
  10. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    Or next best thing, once you've negotiated the time, place, hours, and amount email the person with a summary of what was agreed to, and ask them for confirmation. If they won't confirm then I assume I'm not booked. For small claims a decent paper/email trail works wonders.
  11. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Below is a live performance agreement I posted to these boards a long time ago. It probably needs updating (which I don't have time to do right now) and I am sure there are provisions in the agreement that will be objectionable to some venues and/or music purchasers.


    This agreement (“Agreement”) is made this _____ day of ________, 2014, between ___________ (hereinafter referred to as “Purchaser”) with its principal place of business located at __________________________________ and ____________ (“Artist’) with a principal place of business located at ____________.

    It is mutually agreed between the parties as follows:

    Purchaser engages Artist, and Artist accepts such engagement, to furnish the entertainment services of Artist for the performance hereinafter described pursuant to the terms and conditions herein set forth, including those listed on Exhibit “A” entitled “Additional Terms and Conditions,” attached hereto and by this reference incorporated herein.

    1. Artist agrees to furnish Artist’s performing services to Purchaser for ____ ( ) performance(s) of approximately ________ ( ) minutes in length for presentation thereof by Purchaser:

    (a) at ____________________, (the “Venue”) located at ______________________________________;

    (b) on the ____ day of __________, 2014;

    (c) at the following time(s):____________________

    (d) Rehearsals, if any, to be held: ________________________;

    (e) The Venue will be available for Soundcheck at ____________, but under no circumstances later than ________ minutes prior to the performance.

    (f) Artist will receive Sole top billing in form and size as determined by Artist on all forms of advertising, marketing, and promotion with respect to the performance.

    2. As consideration for Artist’s performing services hereunder, Purchaser agrees to pay Artist a guaranteed fee in the amount of ___________________ ($__________) Dollars (the “Performance Fee”) per performance, as follows:

    (a) A deposit, payable by certified check, money order, or cash, in the amount of __________________($________) Dollars, upon execution hereof. (Checks shall be made payable to _______________).

    (b) The balance of the Performance Fee shall be payable, in cash, no later than ____ ( ) hours prior to the performance.

    (c) Purchaser guarantees payment of the Performance Fee under any circumstance, condition, weather or otherwise, with the exception of cancellation due to Artist’s willful failure to perform.

    3. As further consideration for Artist furnishing Artist’s services hereunder, Purchaser, at Purchaser’s sole expense, agrees to provide Artist the following accommodations:

    (a) _____ ( ) first class hotel rooms: ___ ( ) single(s); ____;( ) double(s).

    (b) Round trip ______ transportation to and from the Venue, from ____________ on ________________, returning on ______________ (point of origin).

    (c) All local ground transportation from the airport, train station, bus depot, etc. to the hotel as necessary, and from the hotel to the Venue, as necessary for performance and rehearsal, sound check, promotions, etc.

    (d) No less than three (3) first class meals per day during Artist’s stay, or a per diem of ___________ ($________) dollars, per day, payable, in cash, upon Artist’s arrival.

    (e) Adequate security to properly and carefully protect Artist and Artist’s staff including all necessary liability insurance to properly indemnify Artist and Artist against any and all third party claims.

    Accepted and Agreed:


    By:_______________ By:_________________

    The above signatures confirm that the parties have read and approve each and all of the “Additional Terms and Conditions” set forth on Exhibit “A.”



    The parties hereto acknowledge that the following additional terms and conditions are incorporated in and made a part of the Agreement between the parties hereto:

    1. PURCHASER agrees to furnish at its own expense all that is necessary for the proper presentation of the entertainment presentation at performances, and if required by ARTIST, all rehearsals therefor, including, but not limited to, a suitable theater, hall or auditorium, well-heated, lighted, clean and in good order, stage curtains, properly tuned grand piano(s) and first class public address system in perfect working condition including microphone(s) in number and quality required by ARTIST and comfortable, lighted dressing rooms; all stagehands, stage carpenters, electricians, electrical operators and any other labor as shall be necessary and/or required by any national or local union(s) to take in, hang, work and take out the entertainment presentation (including scenery, properties and baggage); all lights, tickets, house programs, all licenses (including musical performing licenses); special police, ushers, ticket sellers for advance or single sales (wherever sales take place), ticket takers; appropriate and sufficient advertising and publicity including but not limited to bill-posting, mailing and distributing of circulars, display newspaper advertising in the principal newspapers and PURCHASER shall pay all other necessary expense in connection therewith. PURCHASER agrees to pay all amusement taxes. PURCHASER agrees to comply with all regulations and requirements of any national or local union(s) that may have jurisdiction over any of the materials, facilities, services and personnel to be furnished by PURCHASER and by ARTIST. PURCHASER agrees to furnish all necessary material and equipment and to promptly comply with ARTIST’s directions to arrange the stage decor and settings for the performances hereunder. In addition to those musicians, if any, to be furnished by either ARTIST or PURCHASER pursuant to any other provision hereof, PURCHASER agrees to furnish at its sole expense such musicians, including musical contractor, as may be required by any national or local union(s) for and connection with this engagement and rehearsals therefor; ARTIST shall have the right to name the local music contractor and to approve the choice of musicians hired locally. The following Special Props and Lighting required by ARTIST shall be furnished by PURCHASER at PURCHASER’s sole expense:

    (a) One _______ channel mixing board;
    (b) One reverb unit;
    (c) One spotlight and quality lighting system.

    2. ARTIST shall have the sole and exclusive control over the production, presentation and performance of the engagement hereunder, including but not limited to, the details, means and methods of the performances of the performing artists hereunder, and ARTIST shall have the sole right, as ARTIST may see fit, to designate and change at any time the performing personnel, with the exception of Artist. ARTIST’s obligations hereunder are subject to detention or prevention by Artist’s sickness, inability to perform, or by accident, failure of transportation, Acts of God, riots, strikes, labor difficulties, epidemics, any act or order of any public authority or any other cause, similar or dissimilar, beyond ARTIST’s control. In the event of cancellation by Artist under such circumstances, ARTIST’s sole responsibility and liability will be to refund the amount of the deposit already paid to Artist.

    3. PURCHASER shall not have the right to broadcast or televise, photograph, videotape, record or otherwise reproduce the performances hereunder, or any part thereof. Notwithstanding, the foregoing, PURCHASER shall have the right to reproduce, print, publish and disseminate, in any medium, Artist’s name, approved portrait, pictures and likeness, and approved biography, as news or information, solely in conjunction with the advertising, marketing and promotion of the performance. PURCHASER agrees that no performers, other than those to be furnished by ARTIST hereunder, will appear on or in connection with the engagement hereunder. PURCHASER shall not have the right to assign this agreement, or any provision hereof. Nothing herein contained shall ever be construed as to constitute the parties hereto as a partnership, or joint venture, or that ARTIST shall liable in whole or in part for any obligation that may be incurred by PURCHASER in PURCHASER’s carrying out any of the provisions hereof, or otherwise. The person executing this agreement on PURCHASER’s behalf warrants his authority to do so, and such person hereby personally assumes liability for the payment of said price in full.

    4. PURCHASER agrees that the entertainment presentation will not be included in a subscription or other type of series without the written consent of ARTIST. Free admissions, if any, (except to local press) shall be subject to ARTIST’s prior written approval. In the event that payment to ARTIST shall be based in whole or in part on receipt of the performance(s) hereunder: (a) the scale of ticket prices must be submitted to and approved by ARTIST in writing before tickets are ordered or placed on sale; (b) PURCHASER agrees to deliver to ARTIST a certified statement of the gross receipts of each such performance within two hours following such performance; and (c) ARTIST shall have the right to have a representative present in the box office at all times and such representative shall have the right to examine and make extracts from box office records of PURCHASER relating to gross receipts of this engagement only.

    5. If before the date of any scheduled performance it is found that PURCHASER has not performed fully its obligations under any other agreement with any party for another engagement, or that the financial credit of the PURCHASER has been impaired, ARTIST may cancel this agreement. In the event that PURCHASER does not perform fully all of its obligations herein, ARTIST shall have the option to perform or refuse to perform hereunder and in either event PURCHASER shall be liable to ARTIST for damages in addition to the compensation provided herein.

    6. ARTIST shall have the sole and exclusive right, but not the obligation, to sell souvenir programs and other souvenir items including phonograph records in connection with, and at, the performance(s) hereunder and the receipts thereof shall belong exclusively to ARTIST.

    7. This Agreement constitutes the sole, complete and binding agreement between the parties hereto and may not be changed, modified or altered except by an instrument in writing signed by the parties. This Agreement shall be construed in accordance with the laws of the State of _______. Nothing in this Agreement shall require the commission of any act contrary to law or to any rule or regulation of any union, guild or similar body having jurisdiction over the performances hereunder or any element thereof and wherever or whenever there is any conflict between any provision of this Agreement and any such law, rule or regulation, such law, rule or regulation shall prevail and this Agreement shall be curtailed, modified or limited only to the extent necessary to eliminate such conflict.

    8. Any claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement or the breach thereof shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules and regulations then obtaining of the American Arbitration association governing three-member panels. The parties hereto agree to be bound by the award as such arbitration and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrators may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.
    Mamband Mark and Joe Louvar like this.
  12. Thanks MA!
  13. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    As has already been said, most small to medium places like bars won't bother. However...
    For gigs like festivals, weddings, corporate gigs etc. a contract will not only give you a better chance to collect if there's ever a problem with payment, it will also make the day of the gig much easier.

    A lot of people look at a contract as strictly a means to enforce payment. To me, a contract's true utility has been in that it clearly defines expectations for all parties involved. Most problems are the result of poorly defined or communicated requirements. A good contract is a tool for laying out everyone's requirements and expectations so that problems are avoided. Avoid those problems and issues with payment have a much smaller chance of coming up.
    derrico1 likes this.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'll answer, since I live in one. Madison is the seat of state, county, and of course city government, and also hosts the state university, a federal courthouse, etc. As a result, there are also quite a large number of businesses that tend to locate themselves nearby, such as law firms, insurance companies, some high tech, etc. There are a number of venues for conventions of different sizes. And so forth.

    All of this activity generates some business for bands that can play "casual" or "general business" gigs. I work those gigs. And the majority of those gigs are under contract, though I never see it because I work for bandleaders without a contract.
  15. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
  16. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Just make sure you understand every word, and don't just copy it down to use.
  17. Classic69

    Classic69 Banned

    Feb 25, 2014
    If circumstances of the gig call for a contracted engagement, they can save your A**, especially on the road..
    I've experienced situations in GOOD clubs, nice places, where Management "misunderstood" and attempted to low-ball pay by say $100, or by check rather than in cash (which was a stipulation in this case). Whip out a signed legal and binding document, it was AMAZING how quickly they suddenly recalled the right amount, and/or opened the safe which "had just been locked" for the weekend, we'll issue a check" .
    It also covers things like cancellations from either end, bar tabs, comps, etc.
    Of course many local engagements are often done by handshake, which is usually just fine-
    BUT... better play it safe in many cases. Othertimes, the venue itself would not have it any other way.
  18. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Yes, but make sure you understand what you are whipping out. Change what you need to change, and speak to a professional if necessary. For example, this contract calls for arbitration, which costs. Nothing wrong with that, but it means you can't just go to small claims court over a $500 unpaid gig.
  19. Classic69

    Classic69 Banned

    Feb 25, 2014
    The assumption would be before you depart to perform for the engagement-with a signed Contract- You would have / should have both read and understood what you signed.
    I also would think that a $500 gig for the most part would be a handshake kind of thing.
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I just don't want people thinking they can just have any signed contract and be bulletproof.

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