ISM Performance Contract
ISM members can download our free performance contract template.
Professional harpist and ISM Information and Advice Officer, Anna Wynne, offers guidance for performers on playing at weddings.
Please note, this blog is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.
As a harpist, I have performed at numerous weddings and civil ceremonies over the years. One of the most important things I have learned is the importance of having a written contract with the client.
Many musicians rely on verbal contracts which can be difficult to enforce. Others appear to rely on email threads as a form of contract: this is better than nothing, but a properly worded contract is a stronger protection for both parties for understanding their obligations and to know their rights in the event of any dispute. Indeed, it is essential that contracts must be clear to the consumer and avoid using unenforceable terms.
As we move away from COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to remember the following points:
Many musicians try to rely on retaining a contractual non-refundable deposit. However, when contracting with an individual consumer, such clauses are likely to be considered as an unfair term under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, so will be unenforceable.
To retain some of the monies paid prior to the actual performance, it is worth adding a clause which allows your time and effort for administrative work and rehearsals to be recognised, for which you will need to be able to prove that you did the work you are claiming for. In such cases, you should provide the client with a clear document explaining what you are claiming for and how much each task costs per hour. These costs will need to be proportionate, reasonable, and you will need to be able to justify the amount you wish to retain.
There are situations where clients may wish to cancel their contract with you. For such occasions, you should ensure you have a clear cancellation policy detailing what your cancellation charges are.
In addition, under consumer rights, you should have a clause allowing a 14-day cooling-off period where the client is entitled to cancel without incurring any charges within that period. However, if the performance has taken place within this 14-day period, you will be entitled to payment for the performance.
Following the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, it may be useful to add a ‘force majeure’ clause. A ‘force majeure’ event can include pandemics; it can also include events such as war, famine or strikes.
If you decide to add this type of clause, it is important to list the relevant ‘force majeure’ events in plain English and to explain what will happen to the contract if one of these events happens. For example, you could offer to postpone performance of the contract for up to six months or a year.
When forming a contract, you may like to consider some more practical considerations so that both parties understand their obligations fully.
The ISM has a contract template for performers which can be adapted for events such as weddings.
Please contact us at [email protected] if you require any further help or information about how to structure your contracts for maximum protection, or if you would like us to review a contract you have been offered.