Today was talking to a friend who is actively gigging in Singapore and she was sharing her story about how a venue operator tried to make them sign an exclusive contract with them, resulting in a turn of faces and sour relationships.
It all started well, when her band was supposed to play 3 times a week, and was pulling in the crowds. The venue operator was very happy and wanted them to play every night, and proposed that they sign a contract with them. Her band declined as they did not agree to some of the contract terms, one of which states that they have to perform for all special occasions like Christmas at that venue. Her band did not want to be tied down as they had better options with another event company that could offer a higher rate for such special occasions.
The venue operator was upset and said that her band was trying to play hard to get. They then decided to sign on another band who agreed with their terms. With that, they stopped paying their CPF after the first month and refused to pay them for the second set that was requested by a client who booked the venue for a private function.
Another issue that was brought up is that the venue operator was not happy about her band recording their performance at their venue without their consent. The recording was supposed to be kept as part of the band's portfolio, and her band wanted to put in up on youtube, also to serve as evidence that they have performed some of their original material to submit to COMPASS so that they can claim their performing rights.
Moral of the story: Well, what seemed to be supposedly the most common sensical thing to do apparently is overlooked by many such bands like hers, and that is to have EVERYTHING to be written in black and white.
Here are the lessons learnt:
- Always have a written agreement to protect your own interests as well as the other parties. For e.g. if you want CPF as part of your entitlement from the start, this should be stated in writing.
- Do not make assumptions: Having a prior agreement allows you to negotiate from the start what you’re expected to do and what you’re not. If there had been a written agreement, her band would have the right to refuse to play the second set unless they were compensated for it.
- She said that apparently when they played at many other venues before, there was no written agreements either. The band simply just played, and the venue would just pay them accordingly. That's a risky thing to do because obviously, it'll all be well and dandy until a disagreement like in this case comes along.
- As for the COMPASS issue, I'm not too familiar how it works, but I thought that it will be handy to use the contract itself as proof that you have performed YOUR SONG on this date at what time at where blah blah. In any case, if you want to do a recording, don't simply assume you can. Ask them from the start.
- So my point is, protect yourself. Even if you don't have an artiste manager, always think of your rights and obligations and have an engagement agreement ready before you get too happy to earn some pocket money from that gig.