In a previous post we discussed the importance of band member agreements and how locking down legal details would give you an opportunity to focus on crafting your art. In light of SoundCorps’ upcoming TakeNote event on November 7th that will focus on entertainment law, this week’s post is about performance agreements.

A performance agreement is a deal that a performing artist creates with a promoter or venue owner to establish the expectations on both sides. This agreement can be made verbally, but for the sake of solving sticky situations it is important to have a hard copy (physical or electronic) to refer to. It can also be as long or short as you would like, however there are a few sections that should be covered.


1. The Performance Basics

    - Date, time, and location of your performance

    - Length of your set

    - The performance order, if there is more than one act performing

    - Expected arrival and load–in time

    - Time of soundcheck

    - Time doors open


2. The Payment Terms
Getting paid for your gig is important, but it’s also important to know how the venue plans to break up your payment. Depending on the venue size and ticket price, you may be paid a flat guarantee, a percentage of ticket sales, or a combination of both. Here are some things to consider:

    - Are you getting a guaranteed flat amount regardless of how many people show up? Are you getting paid based on a percentage of ticket sales? If you are getting paid by percentage, then it is important to know if there will deductions to cover operating costs taken from ticket sales before you start to earn your percentage.

    - How and when will you get paid?

    - Will you be given a deposit (a portion of money upfront), how much, and when?

    - Will you be paid via cash or check?


3. Artist vs. Purchaser Provisions

It’s important to know what the venue will provide for you in terms of equipment. Do they have a sound and lighting system? Do they have a PA system? Stage monitor speakers? Microphones? Mixing board? If you are playing in a venue that has bands perform on a regular basis, it’s very likely they already have sound and lights. If you’re playing at a catering hall, you may need to bring your own equipment.

Something else you should communicate with the venue owner is if they plan on booking hotel rooms for your band or provide meals and beverages for the band members and crew or if you have to do that yourself. Are you expected to promote/market your show, and in what ways? What tour press will be provided? For more information on how to do this, see our previous post on how to promote your show here.


4. Merchandise Details

    - Can you sell your merchandise?

    - Is the venue taking commission, and how much?

    - Who will sell merchandise?

Depending on the venue, they may or may not take a commission on your merchandise sales. If they do, then they may take 10-30% of gross sales. Some venues may provide someone to sell your merch, others may require you to provide someone to do this.


Like band member contracts, having a performance agreement will save you from a lot of heartache down the road by spelling out the responsibilities of each party involved. Once those are locked down and respected, that’s when the fun of performing and engaging your audience begins. SoundCorps has example performance contracts available as linked here for a band who is booking themselves or here for those who may want to start a booking agency to inspire you further into a more professional career.