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venue refusing to sign a contract?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sleeplessknight, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Hey all, so I'm in negotiations with a local club for my 10-piece funk band to play in April. The gig is flat-rate, and the club is located in a busy section of Boston with a known 'built in' crowd for a Friday night. In negotiations with the booking guy, I am getting an unbelievable amount of waffling on signing a performance contract. With previous clubs, a signed contract has never been a big deal, but these guys are acting like I'm demanding they sign the Magna Carta. At the beginning of December, I finally got the booking guy to a point where he agreed to let me *send* him the contract (which I did, two copies with a self-addressed stamped envelope so all he had to do was sign it and mail it right back to me). All month, no response. Finally, almost six weeks later, I get this email back:

    For the curious, here's the text of our standard contract:
    Customer: Location: Date: Time: Band Obligations - Soulphonic (Here - Pastebin.com

    Are the terms overly-aggressive, or am I setting myself up for Pain(tm) by continuing on with this gig?
  2. Contracts at clubs are unusual in my experience. It it's for more than $1000 then maybe it is worth it. Just write in some clauses that will let him cancel the gig at short notice with little financial hardship, then what excuse will he have?
  3. Hey Lee, I don't think your terms are too harsh at all but you'll find there are some clubs that only do business on a handshake and their word. Maybe payment in full is a bit much to accept on a 24 hour cancellation. Not that there are many reasons to cancel in April but I bet that's what your man is leery of. Maybe amend that section..


    ps.. pm me the venue contact. I need some more gigs that'll pay a 10 piece ;)
  4. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007
  5. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Forgive me, I'm new to contracts...

    But isn't the point of the contract exactly that? Meaning, if the venue cancels on short notice, that the band be paid anyways?

    If it is too short notice the band may not be able to fill that now open date with a new gig, and lose out on the money.
  6. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Contracts with nightclubs in our area are very rare. Most of them just won't sign them. A few will and maybe for a special event like New Year's Eve. For most of the festivals, weddings, and private party events we do have signed contracts.
  7. cbrophy


    Nov 11, 2009
    Central MA.
    Just curious...why is it he can't cancel on you in less than 24, but you can cancel on him if someone is sick or has an emergency?? (why is it his problem if someone in your band is not available) I suspect you are not expecting to be paid if you cancel? You can leave him high and dry, but he doesn't have the same right? Just wonderin'. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  8. I think the *main* purpose of a contract is to clearly indicate the agreed upon amount to be paid if everything goes as planned. Cancellation notices and fees are what I would consider secondary. Remember that everything else, as they say, is negotiable. It appears that maybe expecting full payment for a 24-hour notice cancellation is something the venue does not want to agree upon, and the venue's guy can't clearly articulate that (or doesn't feel comfortable doing so). I only offered the suggestion of relaxing that as a way to get them to sign the contract.
  9. Contracts for clubs is rare. I think it's more common with weddings and corporate events, taxpayer funded festivals and the like.

    One thing I find lacking in your contract is there it seems slanted towards the band's favour more than the venue. He can't cancel without having to pay, but the band is free to cancel even on the night of the concert. If because of of illness or other problems "Soulphonic" can't do the gig, then you guys should still be on the hook to provide a similar band to take your place (or sub out the members, even all 10 of them). As it is, you are not, and if you cancel last minute, he has a night with no band. Sure he did not pay you, but he has an empty stage that night. However, article 20 is pretty tough he may still have to pay you even if you cancel. (For a local club, article 12 seems odd, as you can scope the place in advance and make sure it's all there before you agree to play. )

    Try sharing the risks and responsibilities more evenly.
  10. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Okay, gotcha! Thanks
  11. JumboFriendly


    Oct 24, 2007
    Mobile, AL
    I don't think the terms are overly aggressive; I just think the venue probably isn't used to dealing with them and booking agent is likely nervous just because of the term 'contract.'

    I might would send him back an email and ask what type of performance agreements he's used in the past (sounds like none/verbal/handshake), and ask what part of your terms he's having difficulty accepting. If it's the cancellation policy, you might could change it, but I think it's already pretty forgiving. If they insist on not signing the contract, will the band still play the gig? Maybe ask for half payment a couple of days before 4/7 and the rest after the show; or something along those lines. Wish I had more advice to give, but I am interested to hear what happens. Good luck!
  12. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    If the venue has never cancelled a gig,and doesn't intend to,then I don't understand the fuss..the contract works both ways..they sign agreeing to pay (x)amount for your services on (x)date,and in doing so,YOU GUYS are contractually bound to provide said services. I HAVE found the waffley types to be comforted by adding a clause to our contract stating if they cancel 24+ hrs ahead of time,they pay us half the agreed upon amount.Likewise,if anything comes up where WE have to cancel 24+hrs ahead of time,we pay THEM that half...Canceling the day of still requires full payment..
  13. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Wrong, that's not what their contract says:
    "The Band reserves the right to cancel the performance, or to delay the performance for a sufficient time to correct problems, if, in its discretion, the performance area is inadequate or dangerous, if weather conditions make performance dangerous or damaging to equipment and Customer has not provided adequate shelter, or if any member becomes unavailable due to sickness or emergency and cannot be replaced, in the bandÂ’s discretion."

    The key words here are "emergency" (undefined) and "at the band's discretion". Basically put, the contract is saying that if the club flakes out last minute the club still has to pay the band, but if the band flakes out last minute the club is left with a packed house and no band. So, the band is not contractually bound to play sqaut; they can decide to cancel five minutes before the gig (as long as it is an "emergency" in the band's "discretion") and suffer no legal ramifications. Frankly, I'm surprised they've gotten other venues to sign this.
  14. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    I just noticed that. I wasn't curious enough to read their contract before my post. Bad on me.
    That IS pretty vague in the "why we might cancel" dept. Almost reads like the 'default APR' clause in most credit card apps..

    To the OP- Your contract should be a tool for making both parties comfortable with an agreement. I now see why the bookie is reluctant..once he signs,he's obligated to pay you unconditionally..
  15. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    I've been playing in or around Boston all of my life and have never been asked to sign a contract or known a band that has used one.

    I do however know bands and venues on the West Coast that live and die by them.

    It's a regional thing. They won't sign it.
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    The booking Guy sounds like he's a decent Guy. Unless this is a 7k show, I would go with a hand shake.
  17. I'll do a gig up to a 5 piece with no contract, but when you're selling a 10-piece band, you better make sure you have a signed contract.

    OP - you've put the contract out there. Tell the client it needs to be signed by X date, or the band will automatically cancel the engagement.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I've been playing for a long time and I've rarely used a contract, although I've never played in a 10 piece group. I have, however, had people refuse to pay, or cancel without payment, even when I have had a contract.

    I would talk to other bands that play there. Usually the clubs that screw bands have a bad reputation. It doesn't sound like they are going to sign a contract, so I wouldn't continue on that. I'm no attorney, but it sounds like you could use the email they sent in lieu of a contract. At least it outlines the terms.
  19. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    That's unwise advice.

    Boston's not a huge town. Venue owners and booking agents DO talk and they DO have long memories.

    If you're a thorn in the side of one then you can count on all the others will know it as well.

    I'm not saying you'll never gig in Boston again but the odds are you'll have been pigeon-holed as being "difficult."

    And let's be fair....you can't swing a dead cat in Harvard Square and not hit someone in at least three bands. There will be plenty of other bands that will gladly take the gig.

    The venue has given you no reason to believe that they're not on the up-and-up. If you need to then talk to other bands playing there and ask about their experiences.
  20. ...don't burn the bridges...

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