Let’s say you’re a musician and were supposed to perform at a private event. You have practiced for the gig for months. Suddenly, the organizers cancel the event due to COVID or another reason. Unless you have a music performance contract in hand, you probably won’t receive the remainder of your payment unless you have already collected a non-refundable deposit.
Performance contracts outline the terms and conditions of a performance that is taking place at a commercial or private venue.
Even if your band is small or you’re a solo performer, having a professionally written and signed contract protects both parties if the venue or event organizer doesn’t feel like paying you.
This document is also known as the artist performance contract, live performance contract, and music performance agreement.
Occasionally, the term band performance contract is used. However, band contracts are typically between the band members themselves. They explain who is responsible for what, how to make payments, and how to divide royalties in the future. In terms of money and responsibilities, a band contract prevents ugly disagreements between the members.
Entertainment contracts are typically used whenever an entertainer, such as a singer, will be performing at a private or commercial event.
Venues and event managers use performance contracts to set out to performers the terms and conditions related to the upcoming performance. The performers and their agents may also use performance contracts.
As part of the event planning process, a wedding singer can use a performance contract to present the terms and conditions of their performance to their clients (the bride, groom, or wedding planner).
Independent contractors such as bands, DJs, clowns, magicians, dancers, or dance groups should use a performance contract.
Performance contracts protect the interests of entertainment venues when it comes to scheduling acts and managing cancellations, accidents, illnesses, and other unforeseen situations.
Contracts for bands and gigs are normally short and easy to understand. Depending on the event, they can be as complex as you wish. Most are short, but for a large, expensive event, the expectation may be more extensive for both sides.
Music performance contracts include the following information:
A full name (rather than a stage name) and contact information, including an address and phone number, are most often on the list.
Included in this section are the location, name of the venue, and the performance’s time and date.
Detailed information on setup and sound check. Additionally, it can include information like the type of music, the duration of the set, the variety of music (limitation of repeats), and etiquette expectations (for example, a limit on vulgarity). This section may also include sound equipment and expertise for the band.
Payment info also includes amount, date, and method of payment for the performance.
Small venues are unlikely to require this, but popular acts with busy schedules may require a deposit. In most cases, the deposit is not refundable but deducted from the total after the performance.
A band should book another similar act within the minimum notice period outlined in this section if it needs to cancel. If the venue or event organizer cancels within a certain period, the band is often required to pay in full.
A contract for repeated performances, such as once a week, can include terms and renewal options if the agreement specifies a singular performance date.
Most of the time, this indicates that the musician or band is not an employee of the venue, individual, or event organizer. This reduces potential liability issues.
This phrase means “superior force.” This section defines what things might happen that would trigger a release for both parties without consequences. Floods and earthquakes are common examples of “act of God” events.
In addition to the basic contract, other information may be included:
The venue should provide details such as power supply, lighting, sound equipment, drum riser specs, and so on, in advance to the bands. For example, the organizer should specify PA equipment brand and model.
Many ask bands if they can provide hospitality items because they don’t have the influence to request complex, expensive backstage accommodations. In addition to bottled water, tea, energy drinks, alcohol, coffee, and food, the venue can save money by providing catering backstage and limiting requests to dietary restrictions.
There should be a designated area for sales and tables if bands wish to sell merchandise. It is also important to arrange in advance if the band needs its salespeople to be allowed into the event without a ticket. It is also important to communicate clearly if the venue is taking a cut of the sale.
It is important to discuss how the recordings will be used. If the band or performer wants a copy of the recording for promotional purposes, it should arrange beforehand how to share the copy.
It is not a myth that drunk musicians perform poorly. Both parties should make clear expectations regarding intoxication and performance. If a band member can’t perform, a backup player should be available to perform.
Some venues will put out signage directing bands where to go, so bands should know in advance where to park, load, and unload their gear. The organizer or booking person should provide suggestions on safe places to park their vehicle and gear if they need to park overnight.
There are some events that pay musicians for accommodations before or after their events, as well as for transportation costs. In advance, there should be information about hotels and agreements about transportation costs such as gas and airfare (including airport shuttles).
You have to identify your music production goals or event as an organization, business, or individual, and how you are going to achieve them. Your form should appear professional. It is easier to craft a form that is likely to attract your counterparts if you have a clear goal.
Take a look at an example music performance form and see what you may want to keep or exclude from your own form. It is crucial to ensure both parties know their rights and responsibilities in advance.
Be sure to customize the form to fit your specific needs. For example, you may want to change the amount of compensation since this may differ from the template you download.
Download and open our printable music performance agreement example in Word or as a PDF. Make sure to check your local governing state laws, and if you have any questions, consult licensed attorneys. Our free music performance contract template is available below.
When you use this music performance agreement template contract PDF, you assume all responsibility and liability. Lawrina retains no legal responsibility for the legal document’s accuracy, reliability, or functionality.
The unprofessional use of this legal form or other templates on this website could result in direct or indirect losses or damages. By downloading, printing, or using this agreement, you accept all liability for any loss or damage you may suffer.
Frequently Asked Questions
For example, if the venue does not have certain sound equipment, the contract might stipulate that the performers have to bring their own. The performance agreement should clearly state each party’s responsibilities.
Despite the fact that verbal agreements are binding (if you have witnesses), the written agreement is the gold standard for sample music performance contracts; it makes things easier if there are later discrepancies or disagreements about terms.
A written contract shows the venue owner that you’re serious about your business, even if you’re a sole entertainer, so you stand a better chance of winning your argument. Even an equipment list with photos can resolve a backstage ownership dispute quickly.