Live Music & Events
Live music can be the heart and soul of a community. Whether it’s seven nights a week or the occasional performance, here are several strategies to ensure a great show for everyone involved.
Further information for specific businesses can be found by clicking the relevant link below:
Finding music for your venue
There are a number of ways to find artists to suit your venue. As a starting point, get the word out to the music community. Go to shows at other venues and talk to artists that perform in your area. Organise meetings with booking agents, managers, representatives from your local state music organisation and companies that hire out production and backline. Show them around the venue, explain your plan and discuss how you can work together.
Think about how you want to operate as a venue. Do you want to specialise in a particular genre or host genre-based nights? Do you want to book the music yourself or contract someone else to do it? Most venues do a combination of the following:
Venue-promoted shows: the venue sources and books the artists and is responsible for running the show and paying the artist.
‘Venue for Hire’ shows: a promoter or artist pays the venue to use the space for music. The hire fee includes the venue’s staff and facilities. So the venue is not responsible for booking the artists, managing the show or paying the artist.
You may also consider hiring a venue booker to source and curate the music for your venue. These individuals have the finger on the pulse of the music scene. They manage all the business aspects of live music and liaise directly with artists, managers and booking agents on the venue’s behalf.
As a live music venue, it’s essential you build a good relationship with booking agents and agencies. They represent a roster of reputable artists and can be a great way to find music. They also manage the business and fee negotiations on behalf of the artists they represent.
Once you’ve decided how to operate, make it public. Update your website or Facebook page with details of how you book artists that perform at your venue. Outline the process of how artists can get a gig. Whether it’s sending in demos, links to music online or a phone call, it’s much easier for the artists if they know how you like to work in advance.
Agreements and Contracts
Issuing a contract or booking agreement before an event helps make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Often called ‘Artist Performance Agreements,’ they outline what the venue will provide and what the musician/s will deliver. This can include:
- How much the musicians will be paid
- Any costs associated with hiring the venue
- Whether the venue provides a sound engineer
- How much ticket prices are
- How the musicians can access the venue to load in their equipment
- What time the musicians can sound check
- What time the musicians are expected to perform
- Who is responsible for promotion
- What happens if the show is cancelled
Arguably, the most important part of this agreement is the terms of payment. The three most common of which are called:
- A guarantee: the venue agrees to pay an agreed fee for the show in advance. This is the most common type of payment deal in live music.
- A door deal: the venue pays the artist a percentage of ticket sales for the show.
- A 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.
Complex Artist Contract
Venues may also require a more complex artist contract. Usually this is necessary if the performance is part of a larger event at the venue. More in-depth terms and protections are outlined in the contract with specifics covering termination, insurance and media commitments.
A worksheet is a document that venues issue to musicians, booking agent or their manager in the weeks leading up to a live music show. It provides more details about the upcoming event and is based on what was agreed to in the Artist Performance Agreement. A worksheet usually includes details such as:
- The location of the venue
- Contact details for the venue manager
- What time the musician should load their equipment into the venue
- What meals and drinks are provided to the musician (commonly called the ‘rider’)
- What production is supplied (i.e. lighting, sound, stage management)
Here you’ll find three different worksheet templates based on each different payment agreement or contract.
Production refers to the infrastructure and equipment used in live music. It’s important your production suits the size and capacity of your venue and is set up to work for a range of performances.
Most venues will supply a basic PA or amplification set up. This might range from two small speakers and a mixer, through to a full state of the art live performance rig including lights and onstage monitoring. If you’re not sure what you require, approach local production companies for an assessment and cost estimate.
Identify where the best space in the venue is for artists to perform. Think about where the entrance to the venue is, the location of power supply outlets, where the emergency exits are and how close the performance area is to a thoroughfare. It could be a raised area or you may want to build a specific staging area.
If you will be programming a lot of shows, we’d recommend purchasing ‘backline’ –i.e. a standard drum kit, bass speaker and amplifier, guitar amp and a few keyboard stands. This will make your venue an attractive option for artists.
Venues can also provide ‘in-house production’ i.e. someone that runs the technical side of the show for the venue. Usually the in-house operator mixes sound and lighting for artists for a small fee. Larger acts often bring their own operator. It’s good to have a list of local operators and live sound engineers that are available to bands to use as required. This information can also be listed on your website and in your venue’s worksheets.
Stage Plots are basic visual representations of how the artists set up will look at the performance. Showing the type and placement of equipment and performers.
Inputs Lists show how many outputs the performer will have on stage, its easier to think of an output as a sound source i.e. a guitar amp or microphone.
Both the stage plot and input list will make the artists performance, venue staff and sound engineer’s lives a lot easier. The venue should request a stage plot and inputs list from the artist or there representative a minimum of seven days before performance allowing for all parties involved to plan for the upcoming show.
After each show, it’s important to compile all the information relating to payments and transactions to finalise what the artist is getting paid. This will depend on the original deal that was agreed to. For door deals, the venue is responsible for providing this information to the artists and paying the figure (minus agreed deductions).
Settlements usually include a break down of pre-sale tickets, door ticket sales, ticket prices, the venue’s commission, the cost of any production that was supplied and bank details. If an external ticketing supplier has been used, attach the ticketing report to the settlement. Provide a printed version of the settlement to the artist or their representative after the show. Also email a soft copy.
We have put together a simple settlement sheet that can be updated with the relevant information and payment details.
Venues often present live music as part of a larger event with multiple performances by bands and artists. We have developed a number of assets to help venues manage these.
Budgeting for an event is planning for success. Knowing where you plan to spend and what will require costs will give you a manageable overview of your event. The Venue Event Budget is an editable document that provides a guide to the costs involved and budget lines required to manage a venue- based event.
Venues often partner with sponsors to underwrite the costs involved in a larger event. These can be brand sponsors or product sponsors. When there’s an exchange of either goods or money, a sponsorship agreement should be entered into and signed off by both parties. Use the event sponsorship agreement template can be used in these situations.
Every event needs good structure and management. An operations manual outlines an event’s processes and can become a handy ‘go to’ document to reference when needed. It’s also an essential tool for dealing with unexpected events and emergencies. Use the Operations Manual prepared here as a reference for your event.
Venue Report Forms
While we all want events to run smoothly, it’s good practice to have a logical, transparent plan for when the unexpected happens.
Use these Venue Property Damage and Venue Incident templates for your venue.
Keep printed versions in your venue and brief your staff on how and when to use them. Completed reports should be kept by the venue manager and used for reference as required.
Please note: the advice and templates here is a guide only. As with any legal document or agreement, make sure you read and understand fully if your not sure then contact the Live Music Office or seek specialised legal advice.