ENTERTAINMENT

Performance Clauses In Entertainment Contracts

Producing and editing a masterwork of recorded music is obviously a specialized art form. But so is the entertainment lawyer’s act of drafting clauses, contracts, and contractual language generally. How might the art of the entertainment attorney’s legal drafting a clause or contract affect the musician, composer, songwriter, producer or other artist as a practical matter? Many artists think they will be “home free”, just as soon as they are furnished a draft proposed record contract to sign from the label’s entertainment attorney, and then toss the proposed contract over to their own entertainment lawyer for what they hope will be a rubber-stamp review on all clauses. They are wrong. And those of you who have ever received a label’s “first form” proposed contract are chuckling, right about now.

Just because a U.S. record label forwards an artist its “standard form” proposed contract, does not mean that one should sign the draft contract blindly, or ask one’s entertainment lawyer to rubber-stamp the proposed agreement before signing it blindly. A number of label forms still used today are quite hackneyed, and have been adopted as full text or individual clauses in whole or in part from contract form-books or the contract “boilerplate” of other or prior labels. From the entertainment attorney’s perspective, a number of label recording clauses and contracts actually read as if they were written in haste – just like Nigel Tufnel scrawled an 18-inch Stonehenge monument on a napkin in Rob Reiner’s “This Is Spinal Tap”. And if you are a musician, motion picture fan, or other entertainment lawyer, I bet you know what happened to Tap as a result of that scrawl.

It stands to reason that an artist and his or her entertainment lawyer should carefully review all draft clauses, contracts, and other forms forwarded to the artist for signature, prior to ever signing on to them. Through negotiation, through the entertainment attorney, the artist may be able to interpose more precise and even-handed language in the contract ultimately signed, where appropriate. Inequities and unfair clauses aren’t the only things that need to be removed by one’s entertainment lawyer from a first draft proposed contract. Ambiguities must also be removed, before the contract can be signed as one.

For the artist or the artist’s entertainment attorney to leave an ambiguity or inequitable clause in a signed contract, would be merely to leave a potential bad problem for a later day – particularly in the context of a signed recording contract which could tie up an artist’s exclusive services for many years. And remember, as an entertainment lawyer with any longitudinal data on this item will tell you, the artistic “life-span” of most artists is quite short – meaning that an artist could tie up his or her whole career with one bad contract, one bad signing, or even just one bad clause. Usually these bad contract signings occur before the artist seeks the advice and counsel of an entertainment attorney.

One seemingly-inexhaustible type of ambiguity that arises in clauses in entertainment contracts, is in the specific context of what I and other

As for Contract Clause #2 and its vague unexplained definition of “first-class facilities and equipment” – why not have one’s entertainment lawyer instead just include in the contract a laundry-list clause of the names of five professional recording studios in the relevant city, that both parties, label and artist, prospectively agree constitute “first-class” for definitional purposes? This is supposed to be a contract, after all, the entertainment attorney opines. “Don’t leave your definitions, and therefore definitional problems, for a later document or a later day, unless you truly want to make a personal financial commitment to keeping more litigators awash in business debating bad clauses and bad contracts before the courts”.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Through the entertainment lawyer, the artist should make the label expressly sign on to a very specific contractual list of tasks in an appropriate clause, monitor the label’s progress thereafter, and hold the label to the specific contractual standard that the artist was smart enough to “carve in” in the clause through the entertainment attorney in the first instance.

Again, consider Contract Clause #2, the “first class facilities and equipment” clause, from the entertainment lawyer’s perspective. Note that, unlike Contract Clause #1, this is a promise made by the artist to the label – and not a promise made by the label to the artist.

So, an artist might now ask his or her entertainment attorney:

“The shoe’s on the other foot, isn’t it?”

“‘First class’ in that clause is as vague and undefined a contractual standard as ‘best efforts’, isn’t it, entertainment lawyer?”

Entertainment attorney answer: “Right”.

“So, entertainment lawyer, there won’t be any harm in me, the artist, signing onto that contractual clause, will there, because I will be able to wiggle out of it if I ever had to, right?”

Entertainment attorney answer: “Wrong”.

The fact is, a contractual ambiguity in a performance clause is a bad thing – in either case – whether in the context of a label obligation to artist; or even in the context of an artist obligation to a label. The entertainment lawyer should advise that any contractual ambiguity in any clause could hurt the artist, even in the context of one of the artist’s own obligations to the other contracting party. Don’t rest on the linchpin of ambiguities in clauses when conducting business and relying on contracts – even if, in your musical art form itself, as Cameron Crowe once suggested of my first guitar hero Peter Frampton, you may happen to write “obscurantist” song lyrics while taking your own artistic license. Contracts need to be handled differently.

Here’s how ambiguity in your own contractual commitment to a label hurts you, from the entertainment lawyer’s perspective. The old-saw contractual principle of music “delivery” often finds the artist required to hand over documents to the label, as well as physical materials such as the album itself in the form of masters, digital masters, or “glass masters”, in order to get paid. By virtue of a contractually-delineated procedure vetted by and between entertainment attorneys, the label may be entitled to hold some (or even all) monies back, and not pay those monies to the artist until “delivery is complete” under the delivery clauses and delivery schedule in a contract. As one might therefore guess, “delivery” is a definite event whose occurrence or non-occurrence under the contract is oft-contested and sometimes even arbitrated or otherwise litigated by and between artists, labels, and the entertainment lawyers and litigators that represent them.

 

The Golden Rules for Booking Live Entertainment For Your Event

 

Booking Live Entertainment

The Golden Rules When Booking Live Entertainment for Your Event

Tips & Tricks For The Entertainment Buyer

Having worked as a professional magician and mind reader for the past sixteen years, I have seen hundreds if not thousands of venues all over the world. From Boston, where I am based, to Singapore, where I work for a few weeks once per year, and many cities and countries in between. A similarity that crosses all borders is the consistent lack of knowledge the client has when booking live entertainment. This is true for that of a variety type. (e.g magicians, jugglers, clowns, etc.).

Now this can be forgiven (to an extent), as most people have not booked live entertainment before and know absolutely nothing about how the process works. These individuals can be forgiven and kindly instructed by the performer on how the smooth the process can and should be. That said, when you as the entertainer are working through a seasoned booker (e.g someone who works for a company that plans all large and small functions), there is really no excuse for poor booking processes.

After speaking with several performer friends from all areas of entertainment, we have come up with a list of guidelines any future client should be at least familiar with before hiring professional entertainment.

When To Book Live Entertainment

So you want to hire some entertainment for your party, event, graduation, anniversary, etc. Whatever the case may be, you want to spice it up with something live and fun! First thing you should know is that performers of all varieties whether magicians, fire eaters or live bands, need time to prepare their shows. Most of us specially design our performances around your event, and this does take some time and will go into the price of the performance. You will want to give at least 3-4 weeks notice to a performer before booking. This is my suggested time frame for me, other performers require much earlier notice, and some can take an event with just a couple days notice. It depends on our schedules, current bookings and flexibility and of course, the performer himself (or herself). Our schedules are very strange, and totally non-traditional – we can have gigs at all hours of the day, night, and even into the very early mornings. Please Note: If you call a performer a day or two, or three, or even four before your event, they will most likely charge a little more for the short notice. It takes time to make your event special, whether by creating custom routines as I do, setting up a music set list, or getting required licenses or permits for more dangerous acts like fire eating and sideshow stunts.

What Are You Looking For

Hiring entertainment for your event can really enhance your guests’ experience. Whether it’s a live band, DJ, caricaturist, or magician, live performances create a truly unique experience that your guests will share with their friends and families when they leave. You want to determine what kind of entertainment best suits your particular event. For example: If you’re getting married at a golf resort. With 200 guests and a traditional setup (cocktail hour, plated dinner, speeches, dancing, etc.), then you will want to determine where and when entertainment makes sense. If you’re interested in magic or mind reading, which is very popular at weddings, then you would be best to place it into the cocktail reception for what is called “strolling” or “walk-around.” This is where the performer wanders through your cocktail hour performing small, up close effects and routines for small groups of guests. This offers a personal experience you sometimes lose with a full length show. It also breaks up the occasional repetitiveness of such portions of the event. Magic, mind reading or a little light music can really make a difference. Have an idea of what you want, lay out your event, and see where it makes the most sense. Maybe a full length comedy mind reading show after a three day corporate retreat? Or perhaps you’re celebrating your child’s birthday and want some entertainment to keep all the little guests entertained? A children’s magic and balloon show is a perfect fit here. Look into my other article on Magic & Mind Reading for Adults vs. Magic for Children, for more detailed information.