The Right Documents for Booking Gigs

– Posted in: NEGOTIATION

You’ve probably read numerous articles espousing the benefits of having a written contract for all of your gigs. You might have even experienced one of those moments when you wish you had had a written contract for that one gig you did for your friend, who just didn’t have the agreed upon amount money at the end of the night. Never mind — you are wiser now.

Below is a listing with explanations of a variety of types of contract agreements and supplemental documents that can be used when booking your gigs.

  1. Letter of Confirmation:

    There are those times when a formal performance contract may be inappropriate or unnecessary. This type of document is friendly, yet describes the details of the booking agreement fully. It’s written in the paragraph, letter format and it includes the essentials such as performance time, date, place, producer, artist, who provides what and who is responsible for each item included. This type of letter may be used with organizations and individuals unaccustomed to music business industry standards, such as charities and private parties, for example. The key here is to have a written record of all the important details and for each party to have a signed copy.

  2. Performance Contract- Non-Union:

    A performance contract includes the same information as a letter of confirmation except that it is written using legal art language or legalese. Rather than business letter paragraphs, the contract has numbered paragraphs and is more formal. If you work in clubs, universities, and concert halls or for concert promoters, a performance contract is recommended. As you prepare your own contract, check with an entertainment lawyer to make sure it includes the necessary clauses appropriate for your state.

    You can find sample contracts that can be adapted to your needs in a variety of places. I have a set of forms in my book and available by email in PDF format from my website. There are numerous books now available that have ready-to-use contract forms. You’ll find a short list at the end of this article. Most of these books are available on in the music business category.

  3. Performance Contract-Union:

    The AFM, American Federation of Musicians has a specific contract that their members ought to use. The AFM contract requires information that allows their members to credit their Union pension plans and it meets specific union stipulations depending on the type of music and area in which you perform. If you perform on radio and television, you may be a member of AFTRA, American Film Television and Radio Artists Union. AFTRA artists are required to use the AFTRA contract when doing radio and television performances.

  4. Performance Contract Rider:

    The purpose of including this document is to help define exactly what is necessary to enable the artist to present their best performance. It serves as an extension of the Performance Contract to aid the promoter in taking care of all the details. As such, artists should be mindful when preparing their Contract Riders to include only those necessities that enhance the performance. Many club owners and promoters scrutinize Contract Riders and cross out unnecessary items that serve only to inflate their budget and take undue advantage of the promoter. Some often cross out the entire contract rider considering it frivolous and inconsequential to the main contract. Be considerate and thoughtful of your real needs.

  5. Technical Rider:

    This document details the artist’s sound, lighting and stage requirements. It should be attached to the performance contract with instructions to have copies distributed to the appropriate technical personnel at the venue.

  6. Stage Plot:

    It is a detailed layout of the stage with all the sound equipment and instruments positioned. The stage plot should accompany the Technical Rider.

  7. Lighting Plot:

    This diagram describes the type and placement of lighting that best highlights the performance. It may include song lists and lighting cues.

  8. Hospitality Rider:

    This describes the artist’s food, housing, and travel requirements. This is the place to list dietary restrictions and necessities when meals are provided.

In most club bookings, a simple performance contract will due. As you begin to work with promoters or perform in larger clubs and concert halls, some of these other documents will be useful and should be included each time you issue a contract. Remember to put it in writing. Good luck.

Resources for ready-to-use contracts:

Contract Forms for Booking Gigs
How To Be Your Own Booking Agent
This Business of Music
The Musician’s Business and Legal Guide
101 Music Business Contracts
Music Law, How To Run Your Band’s Business


And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.

* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.

1 comment… add one
  • Alex saitoti September 2, 2019, 9:45 am

    Wow i love this

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