Image credit: Cristian Guanipa
This fact sheet will cover processes that will set you up for success, engaging in contracts that protect you, invoice terms (what to include) and what to do in the event that you are owed money for a performance.
A contract is strongly recommended, and the Live Music Office has some great templates. If an invoice isn’t appropriate due to the nature of the show then at a minimum there should be an agreement over email.
In lieu of a contract it is important to have in writing:
- Venue/festival booker and venue manager’s name, phone number and email address
- Load in, sound check and performance times
- Cancellation terms
- Date and method of pay – how much you will be paid and the type of deal the show will work on, any venue hire fees
- If applicable: ticket price and ticketing details
Other things that you should consider include:
- Merchandise arrangement, and whether there is a split with the venue
- Tech specs
- Whether the venue has backline
- Production expectations – it is important to know whether you will be required to pay for a lighting operator and/or sound person
- Complimentary tickets
The terms of an agreement vary depending on the nature of the gig, but some common arrangements are:
- 50% upon agreeing to do the gig and 50% within 14 days of doing the gig.
- 100% to be paid within 14 days after the gig
More information can be found here.
Depending on the event you may be paid a number of ways. The three most common include:
- A guarantee: the venue agrees to pay an agreed fee for the show in advance.
- Door deal: the venue pays the artist a percentage of ticket sales for the show.
- Guarantee versus deal: the venue pays a guaranteed fee to the artist plus a percentage of the door takings once a certain amount has been reached.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has outlined minimum rates in their Live Performance Award 2020
Musicians Australia has also campaigned for a $250 minimum fee based on a ‘3-hour call’ as set out in the Live Performance Award. This requires that musicians are paid between $150-200 for a 3-hour call, and an additional $50-100 in allowances (eg. set up time, meals, supply of instruments, and travel).
While you may be asked to play for free or for in exchange of goods such as clothes or alcohol, it is important to put a value on your time and the labour of your performance, as well as everything leading up to it.
Some venues may also ask for a percentage of your merch takings. It is important to be made aware of this in advance so that you can make appropriate considerations such as increasing the price of your merch. If the venue does take a cut of your merch, ensure that they provide you with facilities including: a merch seller (paid either by yourself or the venue) and a well-lit merch table. You should also enquire regarding EFTPOS facilities and organise a float if you want to take cash.
It is necessary to invoice for your services. A Tax Invoice must contain the following:
- The words ‘tax invoice’ stated prominently
- Supplier name
- Supplier ABN – if not you will need to provide a Statement by a Supplier form
- Unique invoice number
- Invoice issue date
- GST amount separately
- Total price of the sale (including GST)
- If they are not registered for GST, the statement “no GST has been charged as not registered for GST” should be included
- Bank account details for payment
- Superannuation details
Other helpful identifier information:
- What services were provided e.g., 60-minute festival set, 30-minute support slot
- Event name
- Date of event
More information regarding tax and super can be found here: https://www.ato.gov.au/
Breach of agreement – what to do if you don’t get paid
In the event that you don’t receive payment for your performance there are a number of resources available that can assist you with your debt recovery.
- Business Victoria – step-by-step guide to managing overdue payments yourself.
- Victorian Small Business Commission – external help with dispute resolution, mediation, debt recovery.
- Arts Law – lower cost legal support, (including free 20-minute legal advice sessions for individual artists who are below our means test requirements).
- AMIN – music industry legal pack: fact sheets and checklists, covering everything from management contracts to producer and remixer agreements.
- Musicians Australia – further information regarding contracts and agreements
- Musicians Australia Gig Map Survey – document your experience on their gig map, other entries can be viewed here
Public liability insurance
Though it’s not required by law, all small businesses should consider having Public Liability insurance to protect themselves against personal injury caused to a third-party or damage to property. Some festivals and venues may even write this as a requirement of performing with them in their contract.
Recommended insurance providers:
- AON – Music Victoria Essentials members and above receive discounts on Public Liability (with or without Equipment & Instrument insurance), as well as Equipment & Instrument insurance (with or without Public Liability)
- Duck for Cover
- Music Victoria – Live show checklist and resources for musicians
- Live Music Office – Artist contract templates
- AMIN – Booking confirmation checklist
If there is anything you would suggest to be added to this document please email email@example.com.