5 things that belong in every artist contract

1. A provision on the taxation of the artist’s fee

The days of cash-in-hand and under the table payments are, for the most part, long gone. After all, the fee is a significant expense for promoters and their book-keeping. In most cases, the artist must also pay VAT – which usually amounts to 7%. But don’t forget to include a provision specifying that any taxes resulting from the contract must be paid by the artist, otherwise you could potentially be faced with hidden expenses down the line. If the matter is settled clearly and transparently in the guest performance contract, then you have nothing to worry about. When it comes to the taxation of foreign nationals, you can withhold the tax amount by deducting it from the artist’s fee. Always remember that the Artists’ Social Welfare Fund (“Künstlersozialkasse”, or “KSK”) must always be paid separately. The contract must of course also clarify whether the fee refers to a gross or net sum. And let’s not forget the time and type of payment: will it be cash, or a bank transfer?

2. The tech rider and any required equipment

The tech rider is usually an essential component of the contract between promoter and artist. Make sure you go through the rider early enough, to make sure that all the required equipment can be in place. And remember to include in the contract a provision on what will happen if the equipment is not available (e.g. gigmit includes this under the section “Other Provisions”). Alternatively, you can also do this by e-mail – just make sure whatever you decide is clear and comprehensible, and that you reach an agreement before the contract is signed.

3. Guest list spots for the artist’s friends

It really isn’t such a big deal, and yet experience shows that the guest list is often a hugely contentious issue. Artists and agents would often like to bring more guests than the promoter is comfortable with. A fair number should be around 5-10 guests, plus the press, which should also be allowed in. Agreeing on that at the time of the booking always helps maintain a good relationship with agents and artists – so just go ahead and include it in the contract.

4. Very important: Detailed provisions in case of a cancellation.

Who pays what if the gig is cancelled, or if the artist calls in sick? There are a thousand different ways to settle these matters in the guest performance contract. The usual arrangement is that if one party is to blame for the cancellation, he/she must pay. When nobody is to blame (for example, in the event of an illness), then each party must cover its own costs. Even in that case, however, the existence of an illness must be proven, and the promoter should request a medical certificate.

5. A jurisdiction clause

Unless you explicitly agree otherwise in the contract, it will be the courts of the area where the event is to take place that have jurisdiction over any litigation resulting from the booking. However, the location of the venue is not always where your business is – that’s why you need to make sure that you use the guest performance contract to determine a convenient jurisdiction.


Did we mention that the above-mentioned points are covered by the gigmit guest performance contract? For all the other essential points of an artist contract, take a look at this checklist.

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