Performance agreements

Performance agreements (also known as booking agreements) set out the obligations and expectations for venues and musicians organising a live performance. Entering into a written agreement with musicians performing at your venue will provide both parties with certainty about how the performance should run and can help enormously in the event of a communication breakdown or dispute.

Even free performances should be subject to some form of written agreement to ensure that both parties understand their obligations to one another.

Established musicians often retain a booking agent who negotiates with venues directly on their behalf, while newcomers to the industry typically negotiate the performance agreement themselves. Either way, using performance agreements is a well-established industry standard.

Best practice

Establishing a performance agreement well in advance of the show will give all parties the best opportunity to address any concerns or additional requirements, such as equipment hire and promotion. You should also contact the musicians prior to the show to confirm the booking and details of the performance.

At a minimum, a performance agreement should include the following information:

  • Artist(s) details (name and contact details
  • Venue details (name, address, website, and contact details for venue duty manager and production manager)
  • Performance date
  • Load-in times and venue access 
  • Sound check time 
  • Playing times for headline and support acts (where applicable)
  • Venue curfews
  • Venue capacity
  • Cover charge
  • Terms of payment (when, how much and payment method) 
  • Venue hire fee or fee per paying customer 
  • Cancellation and termination policy 
  • Dated signature of both parties.

More detailed performance agreements may also provide the following information, where applicable: 

  • Contact details for in-house lighting and sound technicians, PA provider and lighting provider
  • Specifications of equipment provided, including microphones, PA and lighting
  • Stage dimensions and power supply points
  • Minimum ticket sales
  • Band rider specifications
  • Space assigned for a merchandise desk, who will operate it and division of sales revenue
  • Dressing room accessibility
  • Liability insurance – do the musicians need to provide their own? 
  • How the band will be promoted 
  • Recommended companies for additional equipment hire and live recording
  • Details of any photography or live recording agreements.

Resources

Refer to the Template Documents (Chapter 15) and Live Music Checklist and Resources (Appendix) for examples of documents that you may want to include in your performance agreement such as:

  • Example live performance agreement
  • Example stage plot and input list 
  • Example playing list
  • Example invoice

Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN)

AMIN advocates on behalf of its members and state and territory music industry associations. The AMIN website features several handy fact sheets and checklists for both venues and musicians, including a Booking Contract Fact Sheet that outlines things you need to consider when setting up a performance agreement.

www.amin.org.au

See the Music Industry Legal Pack under the Projects tab.