Artist Contract

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Artist Contract

Brief Introduction About an Artist Contract

When hiring an artist for any kind of work, it is important to put down all the terms in writing. This applies to artists involved in music, makeup, performing arts. This is done with the help of an artist contract. These are of different types depending on the kind of artist being hired. There is a makeup artist contract, a music artist contract, and an artist performance contract.

The main aim of all these contracts is to highlight the conditions of engaging the artist, the work he/she will be performing, the compensation offered, and other terms that the parties have agreed to. They are used by producers and event managers who are hiring artists to perform for them. They are also executed by art galleries who are showcasing art made by the artist.

Purpose of an Artist Contract

Artists create intellectual property (IP). It is important to protect this IP or assign it properly. Disputes regarding IP can be very costly and time-consuming. An artist contract takes care of this by stating how the IP created under the arrangement will be handled. It also states the obligations of the parties- what each is required to do under the contract. This allows the parties to have reasonable expectations from the other. It serves as a protection that the other party will fulfill its conditions. Since all these conditions are made clear under the contract, it reduces the scope for disputes later on. Even if an issue arises, the parties can refer to the contract and clarify it.

An Artist management contract is between the artist and a manager. The manager agrees to provide his management services to the artist as per the agreed terms and conditions. It includes provisions relating to the duration of the agreement, the manager’s responsibilities, his compensation, and grounds for terminating the contract. A reference to an artist management contract template can help you understand the agreement better. For example, a music artist management contract will state how much the manager will get from the music artist’s album sales or a deal with a record label that they may have negotiated.

Contents of an Artist Contract

It typically contains the following important terms:

  • Names of the parties
  • Date of the agreement
  • Definition of the terms used in the agreement
  • Scope of work
  • Date, time and venue of the performance
  • Duration of the agreement
  • Artist’s compensation
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Cancellation policy
  • Obligations of the parties
  • Dispute settlement
  • Governing law
  • Signature of the parties

How to Draft an Artist Contract?

When drafting the contract, ensure that it complies with all the relevant federal and state laws and regulations. You may consider the following points:

  • Mention the names of the parties. If the client is a company, mention its registered business address.
  • State what the terms used in the agreement mean. This clause helps the parties to understand the contract in the same sense.
  • Define the scope of the artist’s work. This is an important term and tells the artist what is required of him. If it a contract for performing arts, this provision should mention what the artist has to perform and under what circumstances. It also includes any additional work that he may be required to do towards his performance.
  • The duration of the agreement must be clear- whether it is for a one-off performance or for an elongated time. It should also mention the number of hours for which the artist has to perform.
  • Compensation: This term must be drafted clearly and carefully. It should state the amount of compensation that the artist will get and the method of calculating such amount. The time and manner of payment should also be mentioned. Any expenses to be covered by the client must be stated precisely.
  • An important provision in the contract is that relating to the IP. It must state who will own the IP created under the agreement. If the IP belongs to the client, then there should be a term stating that the artist will transfer all the rights in the IP created under the agreement to the client and will not raise any claim towards it in the future. This will ensure that there are no further issues about ownership of the IP. It is especially important for an artist who will be displaying his work in a gallery to have this provision in the contract. This will help him retain his IP and prevent any claims on it.
  • Cancellation policy: It should include the events under which the contract can be canceled by either party. It protects both parties from unfair, last-minute cancellations.
  • The contract should include obligations that both parties have to meet. This ensures that they are aware of their duties under the contract. For example, it should include if the client has to provide any extra equipment for the artist’s performance.

Negotiation strategy

There are certain terms in the contract that an artist should negotiate for a better deal. These mostly relate to the payment, work hours, and intellectual property rights. As an artist, you should be aware of what amount is fair for you to charge. The client cannot ask you to perform for unnecessarily long hours. So you should be firm in stating your work hours and the charges that any extra work will entail. Use the time to clear about additional expenses, equipment, and travel details.

If there is no agreement to the contrary, the artist owns the IP created during the agreement. But if the client wishes to own the IP, you can discuss royalties that you can get from the client’s use of the IP.  When negotiating the contract, both parties should understand that it is a collaboration that should be equally fair.

Benefits and Drawbacks of an Artist Contract


  • It protects the interests of both parties.
  • It helps artists to negotiate a better deal for them.
  • It lays down the terms of the arrangement, so there are no misunderstandings.


If the client already has a standard contract in place, the artist cannot negotiate for many changes to the contract.

What Happens if the Contract is Violated?

Violation of the artist contract will lead to disputes. Most contracts have a dispute settlement clause. The parties will have to proceed as per the clause and follow the dispute resolution method(1) mentioned there. If it does not succeed, the defaulting party can be sued by the other in the local court of the state whose law governs the agreement.

Artist contracts are important for both the client and the artist to protect their interests. They are not complicated documents and can be drafted by parties independently. If you are an artist, you should have this contract in place to protect yourself from unfair terms and uncertainty. Consulting an artist contract or an artist management contract doc can give you an idea about what these contracts generally contain.