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What You Need To Know About The Entertainment Contract Process

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In the entertainment industry, there is a lot of terminology that can seem confusing. As Tribal Gaming has evolved into a $32 billion dollar business, we have more and more attorneys involved, and it has become even more convoluted. Whether you handle all your entertainment booking in-house or if you use a buyer, being familiar with the following is critical.

Here are some of the main points that you need to understand about the “Contract & Rider:”

Offer/Authorization

This is your submission to the agency for the Artist you are looking to hire for your show or concert. All the pertinent points need to be included:

  • Fee you are offering
  • Date and time of performance – include any length of show requirement
  • Venue location and address
  • Capacity of the venue
  • Ticket scaling – how much you are going to charge for each tier
  • The announce and on-sale dates
  • The contact person and the signer for the contracts
  • The production company/contact person
  • The radius clause – this gives you exclusivity for a period of time. Pretty common to be 90 days prior and 30 days following your date, within 100-150 miles. No public plays can occur or be advertised inside your radius clause. This is very important for your “brand.”
  • Expiration date – this is the date that you have determined when the offer expires if it is not accepted in writing. Also very important, because it allows you to move on to another option. Always make sure that you have a reasonable expiration date on any offer.
  • Any important points that your casino property specifies as deal-breaker points

In your offer, it’s important that you cover as much information in advance as possible, so that you can get quickly to a “yes” or “no” answer.

Contract

This is the basic agreement, and it is typically a boilerplate. It is issued after the Artist accepts your initial offer (above). All agencies use their own standard contract template. This basic contract will indicate the venue info, the date, how the Artist is to be billed, an overview of production info and catering, transportation and accommodations requests, compensation or fee you are paying and the terms for payment, plus any special provisions. There will also be a place for you (the buyer) to sign, as well as a place for the Artist to sign.

Along with this contract will be a terms and conditions addendum that will vary from agency to agency. These terms will include the following points:

  • Ticketing – prices and requests
  • Force Majeure
  • Insurance/indemnification
  • Controlling Provisions
  • Liability
  • Default
  • Cancellation issues
  • Billing/promotion
  • Merchandise
  • And more

All of these terms and conditions need to be reviewed. Keep in mind that all of the agency contracts you receive will be heavily one-sided. All of these points can be reasonably negotiated.

Also keep in mind that the goal is to always find a working compromise in a short amount of time.

Rider (Attached With The Contract)

This document can run from a few pages to 30+ pages. It lists all the additional terms, requests, needs, etc. It is totally negotiable. It usually comes in a couple parts:

1. The basic terms and conditions, which talk about all sorts of scenarios, naming who’s responsible, who controls what, etc. This is pretty much a duplication of the terms and conditions found within the Artist boilerplate contract, it’s just more specific to the Artist you are working with.

2. Hospitality includes all sorts of meal and food requests – all negotiable. Acts need meals, so use meal comps; Acts request liquor – say no. Acts request green room hospitality – limit this to what you can realistically provide. Touring acts will request Bus stock – simply tell them that you can do ice and water only.

  • Accommodations are pretty firm and simple. Rooms onsite are best, but sometimes moving them offsite is the best option. Always keep them informed.
  • Ground transportation – keep it limited to your airport of choice. Be careful about getting stuck with an airport much farther away.
  • Day of show runner, can be negotiated and provided as needed.

3. The production part of this rider needs to be given to your production team. Make sure your production people understand that they work for you, not the Artist. They speak the language and can simplify a lot of the costs and requests by just doing their due diligence.

  • However, the group needs to sound and look good, and you need to find the middle ground that doesn’t compromise the show and doesn’t cost you a lot of extra money.
  • Your production people can save you a lot of money if they are properly doing their jobs.

I recommend that you create your own casino addendum, indicating your terms and conditions as well. This will help level the playing field. Make sure you keep it as simple as possible and specific to the terms and points that are dealbreakers for your property.

The goal is a successful show with the least amount of hassle. Once the attorneys get involved, it becomes a battle of terminology with a lot of legalese that will confuse everyone but the attorneys.

Kell Houston

Kell Houston