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  • Writer's pictureJoe Hamm

Performance Agreement Guide: Make the Show

Updated: Mar 24

To make a show successful, clear communication makes all the difference. With so many ways to share information and communicate, details can be lost. An email can go to a mis-typed email address, a text can be left unread, or a verbal message can be forgotten or misremembered. So how do we work around mishaps to make a show a good experience for the artist, promoter, talent buyer, and audience? This is where a written and signed performance agreement comes in.

Professional artists, promoters, venue owners, bar managers, restaurant owners, special event organizers, and anyone involved in a show all rely on a clear set of expectations. Regardless of how well we know one another, how much we trust one another, or how much we love one another, getting details down on paper makes everything easier.

I’ve written up hundreds of performance agreements during my musical career, and when an agreement is discussed, written, and signed, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Now that the deal is done, we can all focus on the fun part which is making a great event and putting on a memorable performance. What time is load in? When is sound check? How will payment work? These details make for a professional performance experience.

Of course, things happen, and unexpected situations will arise. We can’t anticipate everything, and a performance agreement isn’t a perfect magic solution. It can however mitigate a lot of situations and is a basis to work from.

I encourage you to do W9 forms when appropriate, and not do under the table business. If you want to scale your business, at some point Uncle Sam will come knocking. If you build professional habits now, when the money increases you’ll be ready. This is a good way to look out for the venues, promoters, and vendors you are doing business with. We want everyone’s business to grow, and when we grow and support one another, everyone succeeds.

You’ll notice I include a hospitality section. While this is not required and depends on each individual circumstance, it’s a warm gesture and goes a long way. Be reasonable about this one and come up with something that can take care of the performers and any additional team members relied upon to make a successful show. Remember, the venue needs to make money too and if you blow through their inventory that’s not something that is going to help the collective success of the show. At minimum, I tend to include one complementary drink and entrée per band member, but it really depends on the situation.

There are lots of templates out there for performance agreements. I’m not an entertainment attorney, and there are plenty of options out there for you. I’m making my template accessible to you for free because I want you to succeed, I want musical artist to value their work, and I want everyone involved in the professional performance community to feel and be respected throughout the process. I’ve used it countless times and it has worked for me. I know it will work for you too.

Download my template, edit it if you like, or simply print off a blank one and fill it out in person when you’re booking a professional performance. Got questions? Contact me or write in the comments.

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