Live Appearance Contracts

Whilst reading this material it would be to your advantage to have the sample contract, found here open at the same time. Try to follow the principles being outlined with the way they are used in the sample; judge for yourself their fairness and appriopriateness.


These are probably the simplest written contracts you'll come across. Basically they are an agreement for an artiste to turn up and play at a specified venue, and a given time on a given day in exchange for some cash. They can go deeper to include setting up times and 'riders'. They can work both to the advantage of the artiste, or a disadvantage depending on your objectives. They can also work in favour of a promoter. As an artiste you need to check a few things. Check out the event promotion page for the promoters viewpoint. This page will deal mostly with the artiste's viewpoint.

Payment and Fees

A live appearance would usually be for some money. This is not always the case, but when you are to be paid for a gig there are some things to consider. Firstly, there are more than one criteria on which payment is based, and understanding these differences is very important. Below are simple explanations of the different ways live appearance money is calculated.

1. Straight Fee

This is the most straight forward arrangement, and has its own advantages and disadvantages. The basic principle is this: You agree a fee with the promoter or venue manager, you do the gig, he/she gives you the money - pretty simple.

  1. Fixed fee means you should get the money even if no-one shows up, or if the audience is small.

  2. You can plan your expenses in relation to the gig quite accurately. For instance, if the money is good you can travel in separate cars, or rent a van. Not knowing how much you are going to receive makes this more doubtful.
  1. If loads of people turn up you will only get the fee - there may be quite alot of extra cash which the promoter or venue manager will keep because you didn't take the risk of including some gate money in the payment arrangement.

2. Gate or Door money

This is simply the money gathered at the door as people pay to get into the venue, and is a very common method of remuneration. Generally what happens here is that either someone from the band or venue sits at the door and collects the entrance fee from people who come into the venue. The price of admission can be either down to the band or from a guideline price by the venue. A high price will gain more money but perhaps scare potential customers away. A low price will need more punters to get a good amount. It is possible to undercharge people and make them not come in because they think the entertainment might be low quality.

  1. If the show is packed then all the money goes to the band. This can work out to be better than a fixed fee depending on what the fee would have been and how many show up. Of course, it would also depend on how much was charged at the door.

3. Fee and Split

This is more complicated and where you should be aware of things like production costs, etc. This method of accounting is when there is a guaranteed amount plus a proportion of the admission fees taken at the door of the venue. The example contract shows this quite clearly. Difficulties arise when the promoter or venue manager puts production costs into the equation - these can consist of all sorts of things from PA and lights, to security and barstaff. You as the artiste or artiste's manager must be aware of what is being charged for here.