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Navigating Artist’s Legal Contracts and Riders for Music Festival Organisers.

Andy Robertson

Festival organisers invest much time curating the best artists for their events often working within strict budgetary requirements. Even once an artist is confirmed in principle it can be the start of lengthy negotiations to finalise legal contracts, agreements and riders. How can organisers navigate this legal minefield to satisfy all parties involved.


A verbal agreement with an artist or their management team can form the basis of the initial contract which technically does not even need to be in writing. In UK contract law a contract is a legally binding promise (written or oral) by one party to fulfil an obligation to another party in return for consideration. However, it is customary to confirm any verbal contract in writing to avoid any ambiguity regarding the specific terms agreed.

Multiple Contract Variations. 
In any music festival artist curation process, there are always multiple parties involved. The festival organisers may have artistic directors, liaison managers and their own legal representative. The artist will usually employ their own management team who will have their own legal representative too. All these parties can end up getting involved in negotiations with multiple contract variations making reaching an agreement a long-drawn-out process. 

Festival Organisers Vs Artists.
In most cases a festival organiser will have standard contracts and agreements which are issued to every artist booked but an artist’s management team (who may be managing multiple artists) will have their own contracts too. Although a contract or agreement is often no more than a single A4 page it is the terms and conditions and addendums that can add multiple page additions. With hundreds of artists being curated for an event having to deal with multiple variations of contracts and terms can be a real headache for organisers.

Standardisation. 
In recent years music festival organisers, often supported by their representative member associations have been pushing for more standardisation of contracts and agreements for artists. This can work well for larger festival entities who have greater influence over artist bookings and a standard contract can work well for the majority of artists. Festival organisers are no longer prepared to cater for the ridiculous and impractical riders sometimes demanded by artist’s management teams. The only exception may be the rare occasion when a festival really wants to book a headline artist who insists on multiple additional terms and riders.

With more standardisation of contracts and agreements the days of the crazy rider demands should be numbered. The rider demands have historically been created by over enthusiastic management teams keen to impress their artists with what they can provide rather than what an artist actually wants or would be content with. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics including a specific artist management module. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by
Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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