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Legal Beat: Paid In Full

As a practicing attorney and gigging drummer from the suburbs north of New York City, my articles, in most cases, present a factual situation, then provide a practical approach to resolution of the issues confronting today’s working musicians. Periodically, I address interesting and unique cases that have been recently decided, and which might realistically impact the way in which we musicians do business on a daily basis.

Let’s start with some general guidelines. Your band has just been offered a gig at a hot local nightspot. Perhaps it’s your first gig, or the first with your band. Before saying yes, stop and think of what you are agreeing to. After all, like any other transaction, this is a business transaction where both parties have rights, obligations, and responsibilities.

When dealing with small venues such as bars, be sure to fully discuss the basics, such as how much you will be paid, start time, finish time, how many sets, type of music, complimentary meals/drinks, load-in time, cover charges, guarantees, soundchecks, does the venue provide PA, lights, and sound assistance (and who pays for those), and even volume levels. Talk to the venue owner or booking agent about each of these issues, and any others that may arise.

I strongly recommend that any agreement which is reached be in writing whenever possible. Obviously, once you nail your initial gig and are invited back, a formal written agreement may not be necessary, but the idea is to make sure that both the band and the venue fully understand what is expected so as to avoid conflict and ensure future gigs.

It’s only rock and roll, but these simple steps can forestall potential misunderstandings to make your live outing a much more enjoyable experience. Next time, we will deal with the various payment options a band may face.

Disclaimer: The content of these articles is not intended as legal advice, but merely constitutes a guideline.

Robert S. Lewis, Esq., is an attorney with offices in Nyack, New York specializing in bankruptcy, litigation, real estate, matrimonial, and entertainment matters. He is the past owner of a record label, and plays actively in several bands and open jams.

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