So this post isn’t about what we put in our contracts, it’s about why we issue them… we’ll get to what goes in them in another post…
In the meantime…
Meet our Cavefolk!
Imagine the scene, a caveman and a cavewoman outside a cave – at some point in pre-history. Cavewoman says “I hunt today.” Caveman says “I clean cave today” – they agree and begin the day. Caveman goes back into cave and starts to clean it – but soon becomes bored and takes a nap. Cavewoman goes into forest chases a deer for a while – but soon tires and takes a nap. Later she returns to cave emptyhanded and discovers caveman asleep. The cave is dirty and they are hungry. Caveman says “Where’s food?” Cavewoman says “This place is a tip.”
It’s not happy in the cave!
Caveman man says “I changed my mind and decided it could wait till tomorrow.
Cavewoman says “I changed my mind there’s half a goat in the fridge”
At least they are not hungry anymore.
They had an agreement, they knew what to expect from each other – but it didn’t happen. It would have been mutually beneficial if they had done what they said they would do. But they didn’t and now they are less trusting of each other.
They have known each other for years, they have a strong bonds between them, they thought they could rely on each other – but in the end, on this occasion they couldn’t and they let each other down. Now there is bad feeling between them.
So what is a contract?
Let’s have a think about this in relation to the need for contracts between an artist and a promoter – there’s quite a few things to unpick…
But first, lets decide what a contract between two parties actually is and how that pertains to a written contract for a performance in the music industry.
People will often enjoy saying a contract is an agreement, a handshake between two parties. Whilst there is some truth in this it is too simplistic for our purposes.
If you look up the definition of “contract” in a dictionary – there are a number of them.
You’ll probably find one that says it’s an agreement that is enforceable by law, another that stresses obligation, another promise, another money, another marriage and probably more to boot. And whilst all of these are true, the definition is feeling a bit woolly and needs tightening up.
If you look it up with regards to legality – then it appears to be a bit simpler – the one I liked best was “A legally binding promise where one party fulfils an obligation in return for a consideration from another party.” This strikes me as good because it stresses the two way nature of a contract, it’s not just somebody saying they will do something.
The Force Majeure
In the case of our cavefolk they agreed on each others part in the expectation that the other would do what they said they would do. Of course, in our example above they both broke the contract. They are both feeling sore, and although they blame each other, since they are both equally in the wrong, they don’t feel they have much justification to voice their upset.
The next day, our cavefolk get up start a new day and make the same agreement but this time they have learnt from yesterday and they both start with the intention of completing their agreement. At the end of the day, the cave is clean, but the cavewoman returns empty handed, she has tried in vain to catch a deer, but the deer had migrated the day before and there were none to catch, the situation was beyond her control. She worried that caveman would not believe her. In the end he did believe her.
Where a contract is broken because of something that was beyond the control of both parties, it is called Force Majeure.
What happens when one party doesn’t do what they said they were going to do
Let’s now imagine only one of them broke the agreement. Then one party would feel aggrieved and want some kind of recompense from the other. This is where there needs to be some framework of consequence for breaking an agreement – and this of course, is where we could talk about justice and consequence – but this is an essay about music performances right…
Anyway let’s imagine the woman came back with a deer – yum – but the man had not cleaned the cave. So she stabbed him in the eye because he failed to keep his agreement. Well that seems a bit unreasonable. Perhaps a bit over the top…
Our cavefolk had a proper big row that night, there was a lot of upset going on…
The next day they got up and both decided on their jobs, they also decided what would happen if they didn’t keep their part of the agreement – They decided that if they didn’t keep to their side of the agreement they would pay the other 10 pebbles – off they went.
At the end of the day they met up again. The cavewoman came back with some fish she had caught in the stream. The caveman hadn’t cleaned the cave. So the cavewoman said “Why didn’t you keep your side of the agreement?”. The caveman said “I didn’t agree to clean the cave.” He denied he had agreed to it, he kept his pebbles.
She couldn’t prove he had made the agreement.
They had another big row.
So they kept a record of their agreement
The next day our cavefolk woke up. Recently writing had been invented – which was pretty cool – it was all over the neighbourhood and everyone was giving it a go. Our cavefolk decided to write down what they were going to do. The caveman was going to clean the cave and the cavewoman was going to hunt.
They also wrote down what would happen if for some reason they simply weren’t able to fulfil their side of the agreement.
They also wrote down what would be the consequence if they didn’t keep up with their agreement.
At the end of it, they put their mark to convince each other they took the agreement seriously.
As they went about their task, they both felt happier because they could rely on each other to do what they said they were going to do – they felt more trusting of each other. The written agreement gave them confidence. They had known each other for years and years, but now their relationship felt stronger.
At the end of the day the met each other again, the cave was clean, there was food on the table and they had a great night in – lava lamps, soft music, the works…
Issuing contracts strengthens relationships
This is why we always issue a written contract for the shows we book at Midnight Mango, it’s not just about what is or isn’t a contract in law. It’s about making sure the artist and the promoter know what to expect from each other, what will be the consequences if things go wrong and what will happen if things go wrong that are beyond their control…
It’s why we spend so much time making our contracts as reasonable as we can.
It’s why we try to consider every scenario in our contracts.
It’s also why we expect our promoters and our artists to read them carefully.
But perhaps most importantly – It’s actually about cementing the relationships we, as a company, have with the promoters we work with.
As ever – comment below