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Archive for August 25th, 2009

Booking Sheets and Contracts and Riders Oh My…

2009-08-25Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

A while back I was asked about how I handle the administrative duties for the gigs I book. Some are easy… In particular, the one’s that are organized by my agent in Miami when I go out and work on a cruise ship. They contact me with an offer on dates, I agree and all of the paperwork, contracts and the rest of it usually runs through the Cruise Line. I receive the contracts by email, sign them in the appropriate spots and fax them back. Done…

Well… Sort of done. I’m still clinging to having paper copies of everything just in case my computer goes down, so the first step in the process for me is to fill in a Booking Sheet. Years ago I created a sheet to take down information about a gig and built a ‘Filemaker Pro’ document to handle the basic data input. The beauty of having all of the information in a database format is that I can then take that same information and apply it to a letter of agreement or contract and not have to enter the same information multiple times. It comes in quite handy. Fellow performer Bob Cates mentioned to me recently that he uses a program called Daylite to handle his work flow… Whatever the software, begin able to manipulate data that you only have to enter once seems to speed things up.

So… Data is entered into a Booking Sheet, then this same information spills into some sort of agreement that gets sent to the client either electronically, Faxed, or via good old fashion snail mail. Years ago I was ‘hyper’ concerned about having a very official looking contract that stated everything out in very specific legal jargon, but in recent years I’ve tended to go with a less formal ‘letter of agreement’ which I use to delineate the terms of the engagement and what is being agreed to simply as a check so that both parties have a document stating what is expected from me as the performer and what I expect to be provided from the client who is hiring me. Nothing too complicated, just the basics like, date, time, style of show, any special requirements blah blah blah, woof woof woof… Get it all down in black and white so if there’s a misunderstanding I’ve got a written document showing what it is that I agreed to do and what was to be provided to make the show look it’s best.

Now this idea of having a show look its best gets us into the realm of contract riders. Often outrageous contract riders are associated with Rock Bands who request things like a bowl of M&Ms, but only the green ones, or perhaps it’s no green ones, or perhaps it’s a case of Jack Daniel’s, or what ever the whim of the band might be… I typically have and an aversion to performers who suffer from any sort of ‘Prima-Donna’ complex and would hate to be seen as that sort of performer by anyone else. That being said, former Rubber Chicken Guy, David Duchemin did a nice thing when he was still performing that I liked a lot. Along with his contract he’d send out a ‘care and feeding of the performer you’ve just hired’ sheet that gave the employer some simple tips to ensure that the show and the performer were given the best possible chance of succeeding. I think this can sometimes be useful because quite often the client doesn’t have a clue as to how to put on a show properly and by giving them some simple guidelines to help your show look it’s best, they, as the person who hired you, also look great by making sure the show comes off with out a hitch.

Once the paperwork is done, agreements signed and arrangements made you can get back to focusing on the fun part – doing a great show for the audience as soon as you step out on stage.

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