Top night clubs like Aura Mayfair London, Niki Beach Miami, Provocateur New York City, or BEAT London, have a reputation as the playground for jet setters, celebrities, and VIPs. They regularly book well-known DJs to play guest DJ sets or a celebrity to make an appearance. Concert promoters also contract with artist(s) to organise a live concert special event performance or a tour. Historically the best known concert promoter in the business was probably Harvey Weinstein who diverted into film production. The best known contemporary concert promoter is probably AEG Live.
A performance agreement is a specialised contract between the person(s) booking the celebrity or DJ usually described as the Contractor, and the celebrity or DJ usually described as the Artist(s).
However it is not only when booking DJs or celebrities that a performance agreement is needed. Performance agreements are used when booking any of the following: Music: Bands, DJs, and singers; Dance: Dance companies and individual dancers; Authors: Reading or speaking about their work; Public Speakers: Inspirational/informational presentations to staff, faculty, and students; and Performance based presentations: e.g. Magicians, comedians, and other performance based acts.
The following ten tips will help you make performance agreements more comprehensive. They should also improve your ability to negotiate with artist managers and agents from a commercial perspective.
1. If the performance is on a relatively small scale then you would use a short form performance agreement. However for a large scale performance, for example, a performance by an internationally recognised artist engaged to perform for a fee of more than £10,000.00, then a longer form performance agreement is recommended.
2. Make sure that the person signing the contract has the authority to do so. Also think carefully about the choice of law governing the contract.
3. A short form contract should be no more than a page long, and a few of the issues that should be included are, the length and number of performance(s); equipment access; sound check; ticket prices; and payment. Every artist will have their different demands which you may not be able to deal with under the general clauses in the agreement, and they are normally dealt with in an additional document called the rider. However sometimes these “special terms” may be included in the agreement itself.
4. There are many variations on payment. There may be a straight fee, the artist appears for x amount. There may be different variations of how that straight fee is paid. There could be a percentage of net box office receipts. Costs normally include: venue (advance); PRS; staff; security; crew; tickets; artwork; advertising; XFM; leaflets; posters; fly posting; insurance NA + PL; catering; support; P.A.; lights; barrier; misc. An alternative deal of either a straight fee or a percentage of box office receipts might be offered.
5. A long form performance agreement requires a whole other level of specification. It is normal to use a rider including a sound reinforcement rider.
6. You should include a force majeure clause, especially where you have an international artist. The force majeure clause allows the breach of the agreement under certain circumstances. There are several variations of this clause and it is wise to seek legal advice.
7. There should be careful drafting of the cancellation clause. Most of the law suits regarding performance are usually about the cancellation of a performance or force majeure.
8. Copyright is major issue including limitations on recording and publicity photographs.
9. Merchandising is another issue that should be addressed carefully. What rights does the Artist and the Contractor have relating to merchandising material during and at the end of the show?
10. The sound reinforcement rider is a very important part of the long form performance agreement, specialised legal advice is recommended in preparing it.
Quite often many small venues do not bother with contracts. Large venues almost always sign contracts with artists. Remember that a contract is a legally binding document. Once your signature is on the dotted line you could end up being liable for much more than you realise if anything should go wrong.
To book a face to face consultation for commercial legal advice you should contact a specialist music solicitor (charge rates may apply and may vary).