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Making a Musician Contract
Musician Contracts outline the agreements between the talent (musician or band) and a music agent or agency. This document defines the agent's and musician's responsibilities and how the agent will be paid.Use the Musician Contract document if:
A Musician Contract is a two-sided agreement between the agent and musician or band. It includes terms, payment information, booking expectations, and more. Our Artist Contracts can easily be made, edited, shared, and signed online.Other names for this document:
Musician Agreement, Musicians Contract, Artist Contract, Artist Management Contract, Music Manager ContractKey Agreements in a Musician Contract
This Music Contract includes the basics, such as how long the contract lasts and what actions could terminate the contract, and it also details what is expected of the agent and the artist. The goal is to have a contract that benefits both parties. In the best situation, the agent books good-paying gigs and the commission is suitable to their efforts. In this win-win scenario, both parties increase their income and exposure.
The agent is responsible for much more than just booking gigs for the artist. While that is one of their main duties, the contract outlines other responsibilities, as well.
Book Engagements. The agent is responsible for seeking performance opportunities and negotiating pay. The agent agrees to not book engagements without the musician's approval.
Advise musician. The agent agrees to use their experience to advice, aid, counsel and guide the musician.
Promotion. The agent is contractually obligated to promote and publicize on the musician's behalf.
Communication. The agent manages business correspondence which may include email, telephone, mail and social media.
Office support. It is expected that the agent or agency will provide adequate office space for conducting business.
Laws and licensing. It is the agent's responsibility to obtain and maintain required licenses and to abide by applicable laws.
Since this is a two-sided agreement, the musician also has obligations beyond just showing up for gigs.
Business communication. After the contract is signed, the musician will refer all communications through the agent. The agent is allowed to use the musician's likeness and such for advertising and marketing.
Exclusive rights. Without the agent's permission, the artist cannot work with another agent. The agent has the right to publicize that information. Your agent may agree to allow you to sign another agreement if the other agent is in another location.
Payment. The musician or band agrees to pay the agent their agreed upon amount. The payment due is usually a percentage of the gig pay. The agreement says that the musician does not need to pay their agent if they are not paid.
Professionalism. The musician is expected to be professional and perform their engagements.
When negotiating your contract, you'll need to decide how much the agent will be paid and what you expect them to do for that pay. Agents are paid by commission only, so you generally do not have to pay them if you are not earning from engagements they book. Typically, commissions are 10 to 20 percent of gross revenue. You can apply different percentages to diverse types of gigs. For example, you can charge a certain rate for a single performance and another for multiple performances (such as two time-slots at a large festival). Some musicians agree to pay much more if the agency takes on more work such as managing travel. If the venue pays the band, the band is obligated to pay the agent. If the agent is paid, they are obligated to pay the band their portion.
If you are busy enough that you can no longer manage booking and promotion yourself, it may be time to look for an agent. Every artist should be self-promoting, but you may get to the point where you are overwhelmed with the business part of your music. An agent can help free up time for you to work on your music, rather than worrying about booking, promotion and business communications. Even though you will pay them commissions, a good agent should be able to book more engagements than you are playing now. Remember that while you are interviewing agents, they are also interviewing you. They are looking for dependable performers with good business sense. You'll need to prove you are bookable and perform well live. If you cannot find an agent who wants to work with you, you likely need to work on booking more gigs yourself to show you are marketable.
While some agents earn degrees and train to become an agent, a formal education is not required. One of the most important skills is the ability to make connections. You need to be an excellent networker and be able to recognize what venues are most suitable for your clients. You need good negotiation skills and have the energy to work hard while everyone around you may be in "play" mode. Many start by working with a few bands they know well. However, even if you start by working with friends, it is still important to be professional and have a Musician Contract. You may benefit from taking an entry-level job at an agency or venue. If you do not want to work for an established agency, you can create your own business entity and incorporate.
Our contract includes termination agreements. If your agent doesn't provide you enough work, you may be able to terminate the contract. When making your contract, you and your agent can agree on how many days or weeks must pass without work to consider terminating the contract. If you are not being booked, the situation is not beneficial to either party. If you choose to terminate, it needs to be in writing and the artist is obligated to play the remaining booked gigs and pay the agent their cut. If another agent or label wants to pick you up, you may be able to negotiate a buyout. If you want to try to terminate your contract, you may benefit from consulting with a lawyer.