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Using a performance agreement to book acts, and why it’s good for everyone.

You'll Discover:

  • How an agreement saves all parties time, money and hassles.
  • What does an agreement include.
  • Get a free booking template to suit your needs.
  • The one thing that’s often missing but VITAL to have.
  • Timeline for managing agreements.

A well-written Performance Agreement keeps everything (and everyone) on track in the lead up to, on the night of and after your event. While drawing up a performance agreement  does add to your admin time, its ability to make your gigs run more seamlessly means that they're well worth it. Read on to find out how you can develop and use performance agreements to reduce gig issues.


What is a performance/booking agreement?

According to AMIN a performance agreement “allows a venue to state the rules under which an act is to perform a show and the rules under which both parties must act. These rules may include, but are not limited to, promotion, ticketing, production, payment, hospitality riders.”

Performance agreements can be issued to any kind of performer (not just bands) and usual practice is that they are drafted and sent by the venue - or by the venue’s external booking agent on behalf of the venue - to the performer. The performer can suggest changes if necessary to meet their requirements.

The best kinds of agreements are written in plain language - forget trying to be ‘lawyerly’. As the Live Music Office says “issuing an agreement before an event helps make sure everyone involved is on the same page.”

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Do I need one?

Performance agreements are not just for the big-shots - all venues and small scale events should have written agreements.

A simple email with dot points is fine, so long as the performer replies and agrees to it.

But we recommend you use Onto It Media’s free Performance Agreement Template Builder, to get an agreement to suit your venue’s specific needs.

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What details do they include?

Agreements generally include:

  • Name of performing act or artist.

  • Date and ‘start time’ of performance.
  • Performance duration, number of performance sets, and if relevant break time lengths, eg: “3 x 45 minute sets with 15 minute break between.”
  • Terms of payment (eg door deal, guarantee, versus deal. See how do performers get paid guide).
  • What happens if the event is cancelled by the venue.
  • What happens if performer breaks the agreement.
  • Liability requirements and details.
  • Rider details.
  • If known at the time of booking. If not known agreement should state that a worksheet is coming and that it needs to be followed as part of the agreement. Check out our article on how to create a worksheet.
  • Venue specifications, including equipment available for the performer to use (e.g. microphones, leads, amps). Rather than attached to each agreement, we recommend you store your venue specs online and include a link to it. That means your production/venue staff can keep it up to date and you don’t need to change your agreements. Use our free Venue Specs and Equipment Builder to set one up.

Venues should also consider including a section on ‘performer and event personnel conduct’ to support the venue’s Patron Safety and Crowd Control policies.

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Often missing, but vital to have!

We recommend that you outline specific marketing/promotional expectations in your performance agreement. State what the venue provides in lead up to the event, and what you expect performers do to.

For example your agreement could state:

“In the lead-up to the event, the venue will promote the event with a minimum of:

  • 1x post on the venue website’s gig guide.
  • 1x dedicated post on the venue’s Facebook page.
  • 1x post on venue’s Instagram.

The performer is required to:

  • Post to all their social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Instagram) announcing the event. The announcement can be posted once this agreement is finalised with the venue, and must be posted at least 7 days prior to the event.
  • Post at least three more times to promote the event, including the day before the event.
  • All posts must include the venue’s social media handle (so we can see and share your posts) and must include a link to the venue website where we have listed your performance.
  • Additionally, the performer should share on their social media channels all posts made by venue about the event."

Our free Performance Agreement Template Builder will help you create terms to suit your venue’s marketing needs.

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When should agreements be made?

Make and send it once the performer, their agent or manager has confirmed a performance date and fee with the venue.

The performing act’s representative is expected to sign it (or reply by email to formally accept the agreement) and store a copy of it for their own records.

According to AMIN, clarifying the terms of a performance agreement well in advance of each gig “allows time for both parties to negotiate the terms of the gig and understand their responsibilities prior to, during and after the performance. It is essential that everyone is aware of what each party expects prior to the performance to avoid any conflict over expectations on the night.”

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Signed or agreed to by email?

While it’s ideal to get the performer to sign the agreement, that can sometimes be logistically difficult.

Instead, you can:

1. Create email with subject heading: Performance Agreement [Name of Performing Act].

2. Attach a non-editable (eg PDF file) of the agreement to the email.

3. In the body of your email write:

Please accept the attached agreement by forwarding this email back to me, then write the following statement in the body of your email:

“I [Full Name], accept the attached agreement on behalf of [Performance Act Name], as an authorised representative of the act.”

Please ensure you forward the email (not reply), so the agreement I’ve attached is emailed back to me.

4. Email it to the performer / their representative.

Once the performer’s representative has sent their email to you, check they’ve done step 3 and that the agreement is still attached. We recommend you create a folder in your email called ‘Signed Agreements’ and move their email into that to keep track.

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Managing agreements

Venues that Onto It Media works with have different ways of doing things, but most make agreements using Microsoft Word, Google Docs or Open Office.

Managing and tracking so many files can be tricky, so we recommend trying these steps:

Create two folders to store agreements:

  1. Past Events
  2. Upcoming Events

Save new performance agreements into the Upcoming Events folder.

Name each performance agreement file with this identical format:

Performance Date written as YYYYMMDD_The Name of the Performing Act_The Venue Name

Example file names:

20191229_The Jezabels_The Hopetoun Hotel

20191230_The Presets_The Hopetoun Hotel

Example above means The Jezabels are performing on 29 Dec 2019, and The Presets on 30 Dec 2019.

Why this format? It means you can:

  • Sort the Upcoming Events folder by name to see all performance agreements in chronological order of performance date (not just the date you created the files). It’s a quick way to see if you’ve got lineup gaps on particular event days.
  • Routinely (maybe once a month) sort the Upcoming Events folder and cut and paste past agreements into the Past Events folder.
  • If an agreement goes missing, search your computer by artist name.
  • Search file name starting with YYYYMM to find all acts booked on a particular month. Eg searching “201911” will find all acts booked for Nov 2019.
  • If the performance date is moved, simply rename the file to the new performance date and resend to the performer.
  • While putting your venue name may seem pointless, it’s useful for the performer to manage the agreement on their end!
  • Using underscores _ makes it easier to separate dates and names for search and sorting.

Create a non-editable PDF version of the agreement and email that to performers.

But DELETE that PDF copy once you’ve emailed it, because you’ll have the original word/google doc on your system (plus the PDF will be in your sent email folder).

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Arts Law Centre of Australia clarifies the details of an agreement versus a contract, deed and other document types in this handy information sheet.

Build your free Performance Agreement Template.

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