Elements of a Music Performance Contract

Written by greg brian
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Elements of a Music Performance Contract
A promoter and musician need a contract to agree on a performance. (firma contract 20309 image by pablo from Fotolia.com)

A music performance contract can also be called a booking agreement. Essentially, you’re securing in writing what a person hiring you for a musical performance will provide for you and you for them. These types of contracts can be variable, but you still need certain essentials to make sure you and the promoter agree on everything.

Where and What Time

The most basic elements to a music performance contract indicate where the music performance will take place and at what time. Without a contract to state this in writing, a conflict might arise if you happen to arrive at a different place or time and the promoter says you were in the wrong. Verbal agreements ultimately have elements that can sometimes be forgotten by either side.

Description of Performance

It’s important to describe exactly what you’ll be doing during your performance so there isn’t a conflict with the promoter the minute you arrive. Indicate how long the performance will be, the instruments you’ll be using, the things you need on stage, such as a sound system or lighting, and how many sets you intend to play. In a contract, keep these sentences simple and to the point so it’s clearly understood.


Detail exactly what you’ll be paid and how it will be paid. Different payment methods might apply, depending on the promoter. In some cases, the promoter may require a percentage of payment based on who shows up. Place a condition in the contract that box office records will be accessible to both you and promoter so you two can see proof of what percentage of payment you’ll receive. Another case may involve your agent getting a cut of the payment first. Indicate this clearly in the contract to avoid even more protracted disputes between you and your agent.

Selling Merchandise

Since most music performers need to sell CDs or other merchandise in the lobby to make a living, it’s a good idea to detail information on this procedure in a contract. Indicate exactly where you’ll sell your albums and any other merchandise you may be selling. Be sure to put in writing who will sell the merchandise. Some promoters and large venues have specific rules on this and prefer a staff person to sell the items rather than the artist himself.


This element of a music performance contract needs to be especially clear. Cancellations may be rare, but the chances are always there when performing on the road. You may become sick or inclement weather may force you to cancel. Put in writing exactly how cancellations will be handled. Indicate that cancellations should be stated as early as possible to avoid either side being hurt with complaints or possible legal action.


Insurance should be considered from both your perspective and the promoter’s. The contract should stipulate that the promoter will buy some liability insurance in the event you get injured during your performance. It’s also a good idea to state in the contract that you have insurance for your equipment in the event another performer damages any of it or damage occurs through other circumstances.


Be sure to have both you and the promoter print and sign your names to the contract. If it isn’t signed, any disputes may have to be decided in court, if it comes to that.

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