While making music is certainly one of the life lines of an artist’s music career, it is the live performances that many rock stars, DJs, singers, and other musicians dream about. Nowadays, the way the industry works has shifted in such a way that live performances have become even more essential than they used to be.
What was once the complement to album sales is now the bread and butter for some artists. Although the performance aspect of a musicians career is exciting, it is also one of the most important agreements that needs to be negotiated for an artist. Without negotiating the proper terms and conditions of the agreement, an artist may end up losing or owing money after going on tour. So what are some of the more important parts of a live performance agreement that you need to be aware of?
Place of Performance
The place of performance is important for many reasons. For one, you need to know where you are playing (and also if it is an acceptable venue for you), second you will likely be receiving complimentary tickets and kills (seats or spots that are unable to be occupied for some reason) based on the net capacity of the venue.
Date of Performance
The date of the performance will also cover the number of performances (if multiple), the time of performance, and the length of performance. Related to the date of performance, but not necessarily included in this provision, may also be a restriction on where else an artist is able to perform for a certain length of time. These restrictions may be based geographically or by the type of venue.
For some arists, the billing aspect of the performance is as important, if not more important, than the compensation. Billing is essentially how the artist’s name or likeness is displayed in advertisements for the performance. The billing provision of the agreement will state whether the artist is headlining, whether billing is sole or shared, and may even include how the artist’s name or logo is to be displayed.
For certain events, headlining artists are able to receive a percentage of tickets sold, so it is important that the billing provisions include that the artist is headlining.
How and what you get paid can be the determining factor of whether an artist will perform at an event or not. Compensation can come in various ways but is generally either a flat fee, a versus deal, a guarantee and door split, or profit percentage.
A flat fee, as it sounds, is where an artist is given a flat rate for their performance.
A versus deal is where the artist is given two figures, a flat fee guaranteed amount and a percentage of the net ticket sales. The artist will be given whichever amount is higher.
A guarantee and door split is where the artist is guaranteed a certain flat fee, but also receives a portion of net ticket sales.
Lastly, a percentage deal will be where the artist receives an overall percentage on the ticket sales, usually with the house nut (what the venue has to earn to break even) subtracted.
There are of course other compensation methods, but these are some of the more common ones.
While billing and compensation are amongst the most important provisions in a live performance agreement, the rider can be the most exciting part. The rider can be seen as the artist’s lists of demands in exchange for playing the venue.
As you can imagine, what goes into a rider varies greatly depending on the type of event, the venue, and most importantly…the artist. Riders may include everything from airplane and hotel accommodations to catering and meal requirements. Riders can specify almost everything from how the stage will be set up, to how advertising will be conducted and how opening acts will be selected. Those artists at the very top of the industry can, and have been known to, include more outrageous demand including everything from what color M&Ms are allowed, specifics on the furniture to be included in the green room, and even to have people dress as the Seven Dwarves.
Other – Exclusivity and Cancellation
There are many other important provisions to a live performance agreement. Two of these such provisions are exclusivity and cancellation. As mentioned above, exclusivity relates to the date of the performance in that there may be a black out provision where the promoter wants to have a monopoly of the venues that the artist plays. A restriction such as one that prohibits the artist from playing within a certain region (or at all) for 90 days prior to the event may be common to help build anticipation for the performance.
On the other hand is also cancellations. Things do happen and there are certain situations where the event must be cancelled. Generally, these are separated by those where the cancellation was due to force majeure (an act outside the control of the parties) where everyone losses, or where the artist has cancelled purposefully. In the event that the artist has cancelled, the artist will have materially breached the agreement and the venue’s remedies will be dependent on what terms were negotiated.
As you can see, the importance of knowing the terms of a live performance agreement can make or break your touring success. For more information on live performance agreements or for assistance in your entertainment career, give us a call at (424) 442-9243. All consultations are complimentary and confidential.