The deal memo is dead – Long live the contract!

Deal-memo and glassesIn a previous post we considered, why we always issue contracts and the rational behind that. The main thrust being, so the artist and the purchaser know what they can expect from each other. This engenders trust between artist, purchaser and the agency that writes the contract.

In the following few articles I am going to consider what actually goes into a show contract. All agencies have their own style of show contracts. Some are better than others. However there are key things which are always present.

Before we get into that though, I’m going to bang on for a bit about what the purchaser receives when we confirm a show…

The Contract

Of course, there are many variables that are specific to a specific show. For example the date, venue, time, deal etc will be unique to that show. When they confirm the show, the agent will collate this information and issue it to the purchaser. The agency will often call this document a deal-memo. It doesn’t usually need signing. Later the agency will issue a contract which does need signing.

At Midnight Mango we have killed the deal-memo. It is a pointless level of obsolete bureaucracy. For us the deal memo IS the contract and the contract IS the deal memo. So unlike many other agencies, when we confirm a show, we issue and attach a contract at the same time. We also make the point in the same email that they need to sign and return the contract to proceed.

Where there is an aspect of the contract, that the purchaser will not agree to. Our platform makes it super easy to adjust and re-issue the contract.

I can see how the deal-memo might have been appropriate back in the 15th century. But since the advent of the internet – it’s a waste of time and delays the signing of the contract.

The Invoice

Usually we draw the invoice for the show on the artist’s behalf. We attach the invoice for the guarantee to the confirmation email and set it to the date of the show. It tells the purchaser when to pay each part of the fee and where to pay it.

Of course if the show is a split deal, we can’t issue the invoice until after the gig has taken place. Similarly if there is a % in the backend, that invoice will have to wait.

Occasionally we work with tour managers who will draw invoices on the night. This is pretty rare these days and we prefer to collect all the income for a show by bank transfer. We prefer not to deal with cash on the night at all. Nevertheless there are still some artists who have cash obligations on the night.

The Rider

Another part of the agreement is the artists rider. I’m sure I’ll deal with artists’ riders in more detail in future musings – but let’s briefly consider it here. There are two main parts to artists’ riders; the technical needs and the catering needs. Sometimes accommodation is also a factor.

A rider is specific to an artist and their crew. It will be specified in the contract that the artist’s rider needs to be met in full. If there are conditions on the rider that the purchaser will not do, then that needs to be in the contract. The rider can contain a lot of costly items or services that can be expensive. Clearly a promoter needs to see the rider before they can make a judgment about booking an artist.

When I was a promoter, I always found it hilarious when agents told me they didn’t have a rider and yet still expected me to commit thousands of pounds. Did they think I was an idiot? For this reason we also attach the current rider to the confirmation email. These riders are also freely available on our website – or if the artist wants us to be discrete, we can supply them on request.

Of course sometimes the rider changes between the time the show is confirmed and the date of the show. We make it clear that this might happen. However it shouldn’t vary too much from the one issued when the show was confirmed. If it does then the purchaser may wish to renegotiate the deal.

To further safeguard against mistakes the rider should be dated. If the rider is changed, then it becomes the agents responsibility to reissue riders. This may be done by a tour manager, but the agent should oversee this as well, since they will need the new rider for future bookings.

Further Instruction

In the confirmation email, we will also advise when the show needs to go on sale. If we don’t know that yet, then we’ll advise we will be in touch to let them know. There is nothing more frustrating than a promoter who announces early. We also request the link for the ticket sales which we collate for the artist.

We’ll also advise the promoter where to get the correct assets such as logo, image, quotes, poster ad-mats etc. In most cases we keep these up to date on our website. We’ll also advise the purchaser if they need to seek approval for any artwork they produce. Posters circulating with last year’s band line up are particularly irksome!

So when we confirm a show – the purchaser receives

  • The contract
  • The invoice for the guaranteed fee
  • The rider
  • Instruction what to do next

If all goes to plan, the purchaser will sign and return the contract. Send us the ticket link when they have it and go on sale at the correct time.

Oh and as a final touch, if it’s the first contract they have done with us for a couple of years, a few weeks later, they will automatically receive an automated email asking them to rate our service at Midnight Mango.

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