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Live Performance Agreement

(By Richard Morales)
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If you and your band are going to perform a live act on stage for wage compensation, then it is best to have a signed contract or a live performance agreement in place beforehand. A live performance agreement is a written contract stating the terms and conditions of what is expected from both parties: band and owner. There may be some promoters or owners who refuse to sign a written contract. A live performance agreement can be verbal, but be aware of the risks associated with such an arrangement. If the terms and conditions of the verbal contract do not go through, then you may find yourself in a courtroom on the short end of the stick with little or no proof to back your case. It is always best to get something in writing before performing a live act for compensation.


Live performance agreements typically come in several parts. One part usually lists information pertaining to the band’s name, the hiring manager, and other general things such as the date, place, and time of the event, along with how much the band is going to be paid for playing. Other parts of the contract tend to get more in depth about things such as type of sound system, lighting requirements, ticket sales procedures, along with food and method of transportation given to the performers putting on the show. Smaller venues who enter into a live performance agreement generally will not go into much detail except the basics, like place, time, date, hiring manager, and wage compensation. However, if you are an established artist who is going to play at a much larger venue then the terms and conditions of the contract tend to be more extensive and in depth.

One of the most commonly asked questions is who does the actual signing of the live performance contract? If you’re a solo artist then you will sign the contract yourself. However if you are apart of a larger band, then the band is considered to be apart of a general partnership. The band can designate one member to sign the contract if they choose to do this, but all the members must realize that whoever signs the paperwork, then the rest of the group members are bound by the terms and conditions of that contract no matter what. Your band may want to hire a single member to handle all the contracts and take responsibility to ensure the band gets paid. When your band starts to grow in popularity and you start playing at larger venues, then you can choose a talent agent or even a manager to book your shows. A manager may typically ask for a power of attorney to sign a contract on your band’s behalf, but short duration contracts, standard union agreements, and pre-authorized verbal contracts are the exception to the rule here.

It does not matter whether you are a solo performer working his or her way up the ladder of success in the music industry, or a garage band who has just hit it big at one of the larger venues in the city, a live performance agreement should always be signed before playing before an audience for compensation. A live performance contract protects you and the hiring manager, but watch out for scam artists. Never enter into a verbal agreement unless you are absolutely sure about the person you are dealing with. If the hiring party refuses to sign a live performance contract, then at the very least try to get him or her to put something down in writing, such as a confirmation letter, or even an email stating some kind of terms and conditions, including payment. This type of physical proof will protect you in the future just in case the terms of the contract agreement is broken and you have to go to court to claim your case.

Updated: February 18, 2008

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