Creating a Booking Contract or Performance Agreement

Last week, I received several questions about bands or venues cancelling last minute and what the repercussions were. Between that and taking law classes at night, I’ve had a lot of contracts on the mind. Hopefully this will help answer some of your questions about band contracts, if you need them, and how to create one.

I’ll cover some of the more popular questions below:

Do I need a contract?

It depends. In many instances, oral agreements and emails can be enforceable but a signed agreement can be good to have for several reasons: it clearly dictates the details of the agreement (especially areas that you might not normally discuss), keeps both parties liable, covers expectations from both parties, and minimizes potential conflicts when problems arise. However, some promoters feel uncomfortable with signing agreements or simply won’t fill it out/return to you. For local club gigs, etc. most people do not create contracts for shows. For larger events (such as festivals) or anything involving a performance guarantee, you should have one in place.

How do I write a booking contract or performance agreement?

The best option is to hire an entertainment lawyer. They write these kinds of agreements all the time and can customize one that’s catered to your needs. It would probably cost $150-$300 and you could use the same contract for every gig (just change the details). Some websites such as Law Depot and Legal Zoom also offer pre-made contracts that you can purchase for less than $20 (they offer some customization options too).

However, whether you decide to hire someone, but a contract template, or write your own agreement, it’s a good idea to get familiar with some of the most important clauses/key terms that should be covered.

What Your Contract Should Include:

  •  Detailed contact information for both parties (often times labeled as “purchaser” and “performer”
  • Performance details (time, schedule, number of sets, etc.)
  • Payment details (include currency of international agreement, deposit due, payment methods, etc.)
  • Cancellation policy
  • Sound/Stage/Lighting needs (often attached as a technical rider/stage plot)
  • Merchandise policy (What kind of space is provided, does promoter get a cut of sales, etc.)
  • Other requirements

Remember, it’s always good to cover your bases, both as a promoter as well as a performer. Keep things fair and the communication clear, it goes a long way in this business.


  1. Jim says:

    Hello my name is Jim and I just established my new business of band management and booking for small bar gigs. I have been a performer and currently have my own band established. Just graduated from broadcasting school as well. I am looking for advice on starting my business because today being the first day Officially, I have already received phone calls in regards to booking and management

  2. Jackie Brandon says:

    Hello my name is Jackie and I am a member of a mass church choir and we have been receiving numerous invitations to come perform for local churches and churches from North Carolina, Virginia and New York to perform at Special Church celebrations, Back to school celebrations, retirement celebrations just to name a few. My director has given me the task to research information on how to create a contract or an agreement for us to use when the many organizations and churches invite us to perform. In the agreement we would like to include travel expenses and over night lodging for the choir. Our choir consist of young people who are still in Middle, High school and college students, those in their 30′, 40’s and 50’s. So, as you can see we don’t have a large surplus of funds to pay for our travel or accommodations. I am requesting a sample contract or agreement we can use to assist in negotiating our terms that’s listed.

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