Performance Agreements - Part 1

1st May 2009 - By David McLaughlin c/o of New Zealand Musician Magazine
In this edition of our Music Law Newsletter and continuing in the next edition we’ll be taking a look at Performance Agreements which are another of the key legal agreements you encounter in the music industry.   Legal Drafting
In most of the legal agreements which are used in the music industry there are large and unique parts to them that are drafted in quite a specific legal way and which need to be drafted as such to most effectively provide for the applicable rights and obligations in question. In these cases whether you are the party putting together the agreement or being presented with it you really need to get a lawyer involved who is familiar with music industry contracts to ensure your position is appropriately provided for and protected.   Practical Agreements
In contrast to the above however when it comes to Performance Agreements the success and effectiveness of the agreement really relies much less on specific legal lingo or provisions and much more on ensuring the actual arrangement between the two parties is documented effectively. In other words a Performance Agreement is most effective when the performer and the party contracting the performer for the performance have thoroughly worked through the practical obligations of each other and clearly provided for these in the agreement.   Step By Step
Although a Performance Agreement may not always be set out to follow this kind of time flow one of the easiest ways to make sure that everything is included in a Performance Agreement that you need is to think about step by step what you need the Performance Agreement to provide for from the beginning of the performance right through to the end. This involves starting right from any pre performance promotion or advertising that needs to be arranged and working right through to when the performer’s gear has to be loaded out of the performance venue following the conclusion of the performance.   Key Issues
Although the above gives you a general idea of the range of issues that can be provided for in a Performance Agreement there are none the less some particularly key issues that should be covered.   The Performance
Although it may sound a bit like overkill the more detail you can provide about the actual performance itself the better. By this I mean make sure the exact day and time of the performance are clearly specified along with the duration of the performance and any breaks that are to occur between sets within the performance. It is also extremely important to ensure that if you will be requiring a sound check that the time that this is to occur and the duration are also clearly provided for. This can be particularly important if you are using the in house PA and sound engineer as such person will obviously need to be present at the sound check otherwise the sound check itself will not be a lot of use to you.   Access
Similarly it should also be noted in the agreement when you will have access to the venue from in order to load your gear in. If there are a number of acts performing at the venue on the day or evening in question then these kinds of details become even more important to lock down as with a number of different acts to accommodate there may not be much room for leeway in terms of the timing requirements that you have to adhere to.   Promotion
Promotion of a performance is often one detail that is overlooked when it comes to arranging performances. This is often because as you would expect the focus in respect of a performance falls on arranging things for the day of the performance and the performance itself. However no matter how good a show may be if no one knows it is on then it won’t do anyone any good. Consequently in Performance Agreements it should be clearly set out who is responsible for arranging for the promotion and any applicable advertising in respect of the performance.   General Marketing
Even if there is no advertising budget that a venue is contributing to a show it should at the very least be clarified who will be listing the show on the free local gig guides. If the venue has an emailing list that it uses to keep registered users informed of the shows taking place at the venue then the contract should ensure wherever possible that accurate details about the show are included in such emailouts leading up to the show. It may also be agreed that the venue is to arrange for the postering of flyers or posters advertising the show within the venue and elsewhere in town where the venue normally has such posters placed. These kinds of requirements become even more important when the performer is playing the show in another town and consequently won’t necessarily have the ability to arrange for these kinds of things to be done themselves.   Next Time
In the next edition of our Music Law Newsletter we’ll be continuing our discussion of the important aspects of Performance Agreements to be aware of including the key issues of defining the performance fees to be paid in respect of a show and also how the cancellation of the show by either party should be dealt with in the agreement.   Questions?
If you have any queries or questions in respect of the above please don’t hesitate to contact me at or on 021 630 201 or 09 363 2738. I can also be contacted through myspace at   Pass it on
Know someone who you think may be interested in the information in this newsletter? Feel free to pass it on to them! And if someone has sent you on this Newsletter we invite you to register yourself to get copies of our upcoming newsletters sent direct to your inbox. Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide a general outline of the law on the subject matter. Further professional advice should be sought before any action is taken in relation to the matters described in the article. This article written by David McLaughlin of McLaughlin Law recently
appeared in New Zealand Musician Magazine and has been reproduced with
the kind permission of New Zealand Musician Magazine. RELATED LINK
Performance Agreements - Part 2 (1July09)