Protect Yourself and Your Reputation with a Performance Contract by Belle Wong, J.D.

Protect Yourself and Your Reputation with a Performance Contract

When organizing a live event, a properly drafted performance contract can ensure you're legally protected. Here's what such a document should include.

by Belle Wong, J.D.
updated June 26, 2019 · 3 min read

Like any contract, a live performance agreement provides the foundation for the legal relationship between the parties involved. Whether you're an artist or an event organizer, a comprehensive contract for a live performance benefits you by clearly stating each party's responsibilities for the event.

Man standing at microphone, playing guitar for an audience

Artist performance contracts don't have to be long and complicated. However, there are certain essential provisions that any well-drafted document should contain.

Specific Event Details

The contract should state the date and start time, the venue, and any limitations on the duration of the performance, including minimum and maximum lengths.

Arrival Time

Most performers don't just arrive at a venue and step up to the mic. The performance agreement should provide an expected arrival time that's adequate for the artist to set up equipment and perform any technical run-throughs that might be required, such as sound checks.

Who Provides What

The performance agreement should clearly state each party's responsibilities regarding gear and instruments. For example, if the venue in question doesn't have certain sound equipment, the contract might stipulate that the performer must bring their own. Other issues to consider include who is responsible for providing the personnel or crew required to manage the technical aspects of a performance.

Merchandising Agreements

For many performers, live performances are an ideal opportunity to sell merchandise, such as band albums or T-shirts. Both performers and event organizers benefit from having an agreement specifying how and when sales might be solicited, if at all.

Performance Exclusivity

For some events, there may be concern about an artist performing at another competing location on the same night. In such cases, a performance contract might contain an exclusivity clause that restricts the artist from performing at another venue within a certain geographical range on the day of the event.

Artist Fees

Performance contracts should also contain a section setting out the specific fees to be paid to the artist for their participation in the event as well as when payment is due, how payment is to be made, and whether a deposit is to be paid on signing the contract.

Cancellation or Breach

A properly drafted cancellation clause protects both the performer and the event organizer in the event one party has to cancel or breach the agreement. The contract should set out the conditions under which either party may cancel the contract, when a cancellation constitutes a breach of the contract, how such a cancellation should take place, and what the consequences of cancellation are. For example, the contract might state that the performer is entitled to payment of a specified percentage of the performance fee if the event organizer cancels after a specific date.

Insurance and Liability

In most cases, the venue or event organizer is responsible for insurance related to the performance, but the contract should state either way so there is no confusion. The contract should also contain provisions dealing with liability issues. For example, where the performer is expected to bring certain equipment, the contract might state that the event organizer is responsible for any damage to the equipment that occurs outside of the performer's own negligence or lack of care.

When it comes to live performances, it's important that the parties sign a live performance agreement to set a proper legal foundation for the event. While performers often rely on verbal agreements, setting down all the terms and conditions on paper provides both peace of mind and protection for both parties involved.

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Belle Wong, J.D.

About the Author

Belle Wong, J.D.

Belle Wong, J.D., is a freelance writer specializing in small business, personal finance, and marketing topics. Connect … Read more