Acting as Your Own Music Manager? Learn the Basics of a Good Booking Agreement

One of the tasks that you’ll need to deal with when acting as your own music manager, is the signing of booking agreements. These are also referred to as performance agreements or engagement contracts.

These contracts are legally binding and apply to any live performance. Whether you’re playing a small gig or a major venue, you need to protect your rights. And, you need to make sure that both parties are on the same page when it comes to the details.

Learn the basics of a good booking agreement.

The General Terms of the Booking Agreement

There are several details that every booking agreement should include. These are the basic terms, which includes:

  • Date, time, and location of the performance
  • Definition of the performance
  • Compensation and fees

The date, time, and location are details that need to be clearly defined. This is the “heart” of the agreement and is included in any performance contract that you sign.

The definition of the performance is a simple description of what the other party expects from you. This might include the length of your set, the number of set breaks, and any other details related to the actual performance.

Your compensation and any fees should be included. This could be a fixed amount or a percent of the revenue collected at the door.

Along with the actual amount that you’ll be paid, you should determine the payment method.

For example, will you get your check in the mail or will you get paid in cash after the performance? If the payment will be sent later, then you should specify when the payment must be received by.

Recording, Transmitting and Photographing the Performance

The next area of the agreement to explore includes details related to the rights of the performance, along with any royalties and licensing opportunities.

Specifically, do you have the right to record and sell or license footage of your performance? Or, does this right belong to the venue owner? These are details that you and the other party will need to agree to.

Additionally, there are rights related to publicity and the use of your name or likeness in advertising. Typically, you’ll want to allow the other party this right.

While exploring the details of the performance, you should also determine who’s responsible for the sound. Depending on the venue, you might want to hire your own people to handle sound equipment. Though, this isn’t always a possibility.

The Right to Sell Merchandise

Depending on the venue, the other party might agree to let you sell merchandise at the venue. This includes CDs, T-shirts, and other merch.

Though this is common with smaller venues, it’s not always an option at larger locations or specific events. For example, at a corporate event, you’re less likely to have the right to sell merchandise. But, at a club, bar, or festival, these details are more flexible.

Additional Expenses and Arrangements

Other details to look at include whether the venue owner will cover meals, transportation, or lodging. Again, this will depend on the type of venue. A corporate event may cover all these details, while a local bar will simply offer a percent of the door and cover no expenses.

If you require any special accommodations, this is the section where you’d include them. You might need to add people to a guest list or make other special arrangements. This might include restrictions for you and your band.

For example, at a corporate gig, you might be required to wear certain attire. Or, at a public event, the venue owner may discourage profanity in songs.

These agreements are typically put together by the venue. It’s at their discretion to include specific details or requirements.

At the same time, you don’t want your concerns to go unaddressed. When discussing the performance, you should cover your primary concerns to ensure that they end up in the booking agreement.

Just because you discussed a detail over the phone doesn’t mean that they’ll remember to include them in the final contract.

There are other details besides the points discussed. But, this covers the basics of a general booking contract.

Final Thoughts on Signing a Booking Agreement

Booking agreements and other contracts shouldn’t be overly-complicated.

When you think of contracts, it’s easy to picture complex legal jargon and technical terms. But, the best contracts are straightforward. They use common language and keep the details simple.

You should be skeptical of any basic contract that is too complicated to understand on your own. If you’re unclear about any portion of the agreement, make sure that you talk to the other party. Discuss your questions, so that you’re both on the same page.

For more advice, check out this video – learn from another artist sharing his experience with booking contracts:

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