Music Performance Contract

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Music Performance Contract Page 1
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Updated Apr 24, 2024
~ 10 pages
A music performance contract memorializes the promises made between artists and organizers regarding a live event and establishes clear expectations to protect the interests of all parties involved. A basic music performance contract can be used to make sure all parties involved understand what’s expected of them prior to the performance.

Template Description

Paper titled "Music Performance Contract"; music band playing the guitars and the drums

Musicians wanting to start their live performance careers may first want to consider the benefits of using a sample music performance contract to draft and execute a musical performance agreement. Learn the principles of a standard music performance contract to discover how a well-drafted agreement can protect your interests, ensure fair compensation, and establish clear expectations for all parties named in the music performance contract.

What Is a Music Performance Contract?

A music performance contract memorializes the promises made between artists and organizers regarding a live event and establishes clear expectations to protect the interests of all parties involved. Before the start of a live gig, make sure that the event organizer understands the band’s fee and related expenses and will pay as agreed. Also resolve matters related to sound, lighting, audio recording, and the repertoire or set list that the band will perform before the event starts. 

A basic music performance contract can be used to make sure all parties involved understand what’s expected of them prior to the performance. The document not only helps each side avoid misunderstandings, but it can also be a valuable tool to have if and when disputes arise. A music performance contract encourages professional teamwork when executing a live music event by clearly defining the artist’s and the organizer’s responsibilities, obligations, and rights.

Parties of the Music Performance Contract

The parties to a music performance contract are the artist/band and the venue/event organizer. The artist or band agrees to perform at the venue in consideration for a fee, while the venue/event organizer agrees to provide the necessary facilities and compensation in consideration for ticket sales. The covenants documented in the music performance contract set the stage for a successful collaboration.

Key Terms

In general, music performance contracts must include the following terms:

  • Performance date and time: The specific date, time, and duration of the scheduled performance.
  • Compensation: An outline of the agreed amount to be paid to the artist for the performance and any relevant payment details.
  • Performance requirements: A detailed description of the technical requirements and logistics for the performance, such as sound system, lighting, stage setup, and any specific equipment needed.
  • Cancellation and termination: An explanation of what will happen if a party rescinds or repudiates the music performance contract.
  • Indemnification and liability: A description of how the artist and venue indemnify each other from risk, insurance terms, and each party’s responsibility for damages, losses, or other liabilities that may occur during the performance listed in the contract.

Why Is a Music Performance Contract Important?

Executing a valid music performance contract is important for many reasons. First, the agreement memorializes the artist’s and the venue/event organizer’s promises for the event. Second, judges can use the music performance contract to enforce the rights and interests of parties harmed by the actions or inactions of other parties, assuming that the contract was executed properly and complies with state law.

Should the artist or organizer not perform as promised or breach the agreement entirely, the parties can refer to the music performance contract to learn how to resolve the dispute or if it is appropriate to seek legal recourse. Additionally, music performance contracts bring professionalism and collaboration to the event by establishing trust among the parties and ensuring that a mutually beneficial arrangement is made with minimal risk.

Who Is a Music Performance Contract For?

A music performance contract is an agreement between a performing group or person and the host venue. This document is a legal contract outlining the finer points of a performance.

A performer’s rights, compensation, and technical needs may all be addressed in a legally binding contract. Having each party’s obligations laid out in advance of the show protects the event organizers, the venue, and the artist. A music performance contract benefits all parties involved by outlining expectations for a smooth performance.

What Is Included in a Musical Performance Contract?

Learning the terms (covenants) and language found in a basic music performance contract can help you better understand the purpose of a music performance contract.These legal documents may include the following:

  1. Name and contact information of both parties: To memorialize the names and contact details of both the artist and the venue/event organizer, which can ensure clear identification and communication between the parties involved in the music performance contract.

  2. Description of services: To outline the specific services the artist will provide for the event, such as the type of performance, duration, and any additional services, ensuring clarity and agreement on the scope of the performance.

  3. Performance of services: To detail the expectations and obligations of both the artist and the venue/event organizer during the event. This covers performance dates, times, rehearsals, soundchecks, and other essential conditions for a successful music performance contract.

  4. Payment: To outline the  financial terms of the engagement, including the amount and method of payment, any deposits or advances, and when and how the payment will be made in relation to the performance.

  5. Deposit: To specify the amount of money the venue/event organizer must provide up front as a commitment or guarantee. This consideration ensures that the artist is protected if the venue cancels. The deposit also protects the organizer by motivating the artist to fulfill the obligations outlined in the music performance contract.

  6. Cancellation policy: To clarify the terms and conditions surrounding either party’s cancellation of the engagement, typically covering notice periods, potential fees or penalties, and other consequences of cancellation of the music performance contract.

  7. Terms: To memorialize the terms and conditions governing the agreement between the artist and the venue/event organizer, such as the scope of services, duration of the engagement, legal obligations, and any other important provisions.

  8. Relationship of parties: To define the nature of the relationship between the artist and the venue/event organizer, clarifying that the relationship is that of an independent contractor with no partnership, employer-employee, or agency relationship existing between the parties.

  9. Force majeure: To include a force majeure clause in a standard music performance contract shows that problems neither party could have expected can make it difficult for both parties to fulfill the terms of the music performance contract. Any changes or rejections related to payments will be listed here.

  10. Equipment and layout: To list in the music performance contract and technical needs for the event, including all the technical needs for the performance — instruments, sound systems, lights, and anything else. In this document, each party can state how its stage will look, how its tools will be set up, and who will be on the staff.

  11. Riders or backstage perks: To list the performer’s needs for the show, including food, drinks, changing rooms, event management, and site benefits like transportation and housing. This section may also include directions for setting up the sound and lights.

  12. Merchandise sales: To cover the sale of the artist’s merchandise during and after the show, typically outlining how much of the sales go to the artist, who handles the transactions, and the logistics for displaying and selling the merchandise.

  13. Video and audio records: To address the rights and permissions for capturing and using video and audio recordings of the performance, including whether the artist or the event organizer retains ownership and the terms for future distribution and usage of said recordings.

  14. Performance expectations: To define what singers and event managers need to do, including when to arrive at the venue, how long the show will last, and when the sound check will start. The music performance contract might also state how to dress, what to do on stage, and what songs to play.

  15. Parking and loading/unloading: To orchestrate the arrival of the artists and their equipment, the music performance contract specifies parking and loading/unloading. As long as they respect the guidelines, performers and crew members are free to park their vehicles and unload their gear as needed. Parking permits, entry times, and the availability of moving equipment are all logistics that the contract may cover. 

  16. Lodging and transportation: To specify the accommodations and transportation arrangements for the band or artist, including hotel accommodations, transportation to and from the venue, and the party responsible for covering the expenses associated with these arrangements.

How To Write a Music Performance Contract

When writing a music performance contract, use easy-to-understand formatting and clear language that expresses every element of contract formation (offer, acceptance, and legal consideration). The musical agreement templates at Lawrina cover these elements and more. Each music performance contract template is reviewed and approved by lawyers. To use a template, just answer questions about the parties, the date and time of the event, payment, venue location, etc. You will then be able to download your legally binding music performance contract for execution.

The steps below explain how to draft a performance agreement and have a professional music performance contract ready before you perform your first gig:

  1. Coordinate with your counterparts: Ensure that all parties are in agreement. Clear communication prior to drafting the document will help to clarify expectations, address concerns, and find mutual agreements in order to create a comprehensive and fair music performance contract that is ready to sign.
  2. Access an online template: Use the lawyer-reviewed Lawrina musical agreement template to help you write clear and specific music performance contracts that will hold up in court. Lawrina music performance contracts memorialize each party’s obligations, rights, and expectations in well-defined and enforceable documents.
  3. Fill in the necessary information: The Lawrina template will ask essential questions that include the following topics:
    • Key details: The key details of a solid working relationship between artists and event organizers may be found in the music performance contract. These include performance schedules, ticket prices, and payment options. The venue promotes the event and supplies any required equipment. These specifics are crucial to the overall success of the performance.
    • Services and compensation: The music performance contract will explain what services the artist will provide, including the length of the show and how many sets, and how much he or she will get paid in exchange for those services. 
    • Terms and responsibilities: The expectations and responsibilities of both parties may include specifying any equipment to be provided, setup and breakdown time, and who will be responsible for obtaining necessary licenses or permits.
    • Cancellation and force majeure: Include any penalties or refunds in the event of cancellations. Also consider including a force majeure clause to account for unforeseen circumstances beyond the parties’ control that may prevent the performance from occurring.
    • Acknowledgment and legal language: The section for both parties to sign and date should contain the appropriate legal language to make the execution between the parties enforceable and binding.

By following these steps, you can effectively draft a comprehensive agreement online that protects the interests of both parties.

When You Need a Music Performance Contract

You need a music performance contract when planning a musical performance. A music performance contract is necessary to protect the artist’s and the event organizer’s interests by memorializing the offer, acceptance, and consideration. The document also helps to avoid potential disputes by providing a legal framework for the event.

Common Use Cases

A music performance contract is needed when an artist is hired to play a live event. Some of the most common reasons to use a music performance contract include the following:

  • Concerts or major shows: Musicians who play big events like fairs or shows should always have a music performance contract in place. With clear rules and regulations and agreed compensation, both parties will benefit.
  • Private events: For weddings, company gatherings, birthday parties, and other private events, a contract will clearly detail the nature, duration, and any special needs.
  • Club gigs: A music performance contract is useful even for smaller venues like clubs since it clarifies remuneration, technical needs, and other logistics for the artist and the venue. The parties may also specify the agreed duration or frequency if it is a regular, ongoing gig.
  • Competitions: Performers can use music performance agreements to specify their participation in contests and talent shows.
  • Supporting performances: A music performance contract is necessary for supporting performers as well as for the headliner. In the contract, the opening or supporting act’s stage time, payment, and any other details will be clearly recorded.
  • Charity events: An agreement is necessary even for performances for charity to guarantee that the artists will be paid for their work.
  • Collaborations: A written agreement might facilitate a successful performance when multiple performers or bands are involved.
  • Special performances: A music performance contract might be needed for special performances like record release parties, acoustic sets, or themed gigs.
  • Virtual shows: Streaming rights, equipment needs, and payment must all be explained in detail even for virtual events.
  • Open mic nights: A simple music performance contract may be useful for the most casual occasions, such as open mic nights.
  • Cover: If a band wants to play cover songs, the contract needs to include the use of copyrighted material and license issues.

When Not To Use the Musical Performance Agreement

A music performance agreement isn’t always necessary, but it’s most often advisable. The document generally clarifies and protects everyone’s interests. However, there are times when you won’t need a music performance deal, including:

  • For informal jam sessions between friends or singers;
  • When the artists and managers have worked together before and built trust that can allow for a less official deal;
  • For casual events when artists aren’t being hired and all aspects are kept simple;
  • When performing for friends and family without payment;
  • When busking and performing other forms of street entertainment because of the informal nature of the work; and
  • If the performers are not expecting payment for their services, such as for a free event.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a musician, should I always create a contract for music performances?

Several reasons exist for musicians or bands to draft and execute music performance contracts. They establish clear expectations and responsibilities between the artists and the event organizers. They cover crucial details for compensation, venue, date, and performance requirements. A music performance contract protects all parties’ rights and ensures that everyone is fairly compensated for their work. Executing a written agreement reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or disputes and provides legal recourse in case of breach or disagreement. Therefore, musicians may want to draft a music performance contract for every gig.

How can I fill out my own performance contract template online for free?

Lawrina and other websites offer music performance contract templates online. These templates will allow you to draft or modify an agreement to suit your specific needs. When filling out an online template, you’ll need to provide the platform with contract details, such as:

  • Event details, including date, time, and location;
  • Compensation details, including fee amount and payment terms; and
  • Performance requirements, including set length and equipment needs.

The agreement becomes enforceable after the performer and the event organizer sign and date the contract. Proper execution by the parties creates a legally binding agreement that protects both parties’ rights during the event. Filling out a music performance contract online is also a cost-effective and straightforward approach that can provide peace of mind as your live performance career progresses.

Can my music performance agreement be checked by a lawyer?

Either party can consult with a lawyer to review the music performance contract to ensure that it is legal, fair, and transparent. A lawyer with experience in the entertainment business may be able to help with the music performance deal. Their knowledge of the law allows them to spot flaws, ambiguities, and potential problems in the contract. During the review, a lawyer may be able to help settle disagreements before they become a problem. To avoid misunderstandings, the lawyer may suggest certain changes to the contract.


There are technical and organizational matters that are unique to music events. Copyright, intellectual property, and local event rules should all be covered by music performance deals. A lawyer may help to make sure the music performance deal covers all relevant legal matters.