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So I get a lot of people asking me why I contract almost every single show I do and even get some of my regular clients complaining about having to sign a contract. Well, I don’t do it just to be a pain in the ass.
I do it because I am running a business. I started doing it because I felt like it added credibility to what I was doing. It showed that I was serious about this and not just some hack doing this for fun on the side because people want the real deal. The ones that are actually hiring musicians (as a rare as that seems to be) want to know that they are getting their money’s worth. Contracts are an easy way to add credibility to what you are doing when your name is unheard of in the market.
Contracts are also a bit of an insurance policy for both the performer and the client. The contact I use states that the client will pay the performer in full if they cancel the event. I have been criticized for this part because people think that there should be a grace period on this or certain conditions, and to be honest I some what agree with that and am looking into changing it. The reason that sections exists is because myself and all of my band mates have other jobs that we have to take time off from to do gigs. If the gig gets cancelled and we have already booked time off of work that is lost income. So that clause of the contract is security for us. For the client, the contract is maybe a little less of a security. They get a piece of paper that we have both signed saying that I will bring my band to event X on day Y to perform from time A to time B. However, they don’t gain or lose anything in the event that we cancel UNLESS they have paid a deposit which I am starting to do more and more. If they pay a deposit and we cancel for any reason obviously the money goes back to the client. What it comes down to is that our clients what to know that we are going to show up for them and we want to know that we are getting paid.
I often get criticized for continuing to require contracts with long time clients. People say I should just drop the contract as a sign of trust, but here’s the thing; it’s not about trust. It’s about BOOK KEEPING. Like I said before, I am running a business here! I have money coming in from clients, I have money going out to employees/contractors (my band mates), and I have expenses. When it comes time to do my taxes, it makes life so much easier with that piece of paper signed by myself and signed by the client saying that they paid me X number of dollars for this job.
So there you have it. That is why I contract almost every gig that I do. Maybe you agree with my reason, maybe you don’t. So here is one more reason for those of you who still don’t like the idea. IT ADDS CREDIBILITY TO WHAT WE AS MUSICIANS DO! We are providing a highly skilled service to our clients and they pay for that. But over the last 40 years people have become less and less interested in paying for it. Run your music like a business to show people that you are as much of a professional as the other people they hired such as the caterer, the event planner, the florist, and the bar tender.
One final thing for you. The contract that I use isn’t one I created. It is drafter by SaskMusic from the Arts Professions Act of Saskatchewan and you can find it here: http://www.saskmusic.org/how-to/contracts-and-templates. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s straight forward, and it’s legit.
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