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The Importance Of Contracts

When I first wanted/started to become a musicians I though it would be playing gigs, recording and having a laugh.

I do enjoy it but the main thing that I missed was that it is a business. I was running a business as a sole trader and I made mistakes. We all make mistakes but I made some big ones when I first started!

I was teaching, playing live and doing a few little sessions too.

Mistake 1.

I was building up my private practice and I had heard about the Musicians Union and just sort of brushed it off seeing as I was having fun teaching. So when one of my students just up and left without any warning or notice I was stuck. No contract was in place or any paperwork (make sure you have plenty of paperwork) So I was money down and without a student, great!

Plan ahead always have private teaching contracts in place and don’t move away from them. I use the Musicians Union Private Teaching ones and they are great. Lists everything you would need and it’s easy to fill in. I also compliment this with my own Lesson Information packs. These are just a 10 page document covering everything you would need to know regarding lessons. Plus a little form on the back that the student, parent/guardian signs to acknowledge they understand everything in the document. So if a student ups and leaves just remember to direct them to the contract, document or whatever you use to resolve the issue.

Mistake 2.

My band and I were booked for a charity gig in an outdoor venue. The gig itself went great! Awesome experience and it really got our name out there. So after the gig I email an invoice to the organiser of the event for £100. Great! So I’m eagerly awaiting the response. Then it happens. We don’t pay the bands. I pleaded that that’s what the arrangement was but without solid proof (like a contract) there was nothing I could do.

Now these days I have stringent contracts all from the Musicians Union to use for a multitude of gigs or ensembles and I would dream of leaving the house without them.

So to sum up – Paperwork is important and a paper trail is the best proof you can have. But what if they refuse to sign the contract? Easy answer, just don’t do the gig and you could save yourself a lot of hassle in trying to get paid.

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