What is an Entertainment Employment Contract?
An entertainment employment contract is a necessary and legally binding agreement typically between an artist and their manager that stipulates how financial issues are to be handled throughout the contract’s life. Entertainment employment contracts provide added insurance to all parties involved with clearly defined rules regarding the roles and responsibilities of each party.
What are Common Items Discussed in an Entertainment Employment Contract?
Some of the most common items discussed in entertainment employment contracts are summarized below. This is not an exhaustive list, and each contract or project may require different rules.
Intellectual Property – Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind. Typically an invention, a brand name, a design, or other property that requires a trademark or copyright or can be considered a trade secret.
Breach of Contract – expectations are typically included that stipulate what happens to the existing agreement should either party breach the contract. This may also have clearly defined repercussions or penalties that may be enforced due to breach of contract.
Exclusivity – Either party may choose exclusive rights to a specific aspect of the project or agree to be exclusively working with one manager/promoter for a duration of time. These exclusions can be outlined in the contract.
Payments/Royalties – what each party is expected to earn from the project can be included so there is no gray area when determining who gets what based on the project’s earnings outlined in the contract. This section may also include information regarding either party forfeiting their payments or royalties if they engage in specific activities or otherwise breach the agreement.
Obligations of both parties – Each party will have expectations and responsibilities regarding the project or business agreement, which can be stipulated in the contract.
Confidentiality – Both parties can agree to keep specific business or project information confidential. Items may include business plans, sales information, cost or pricing information, trade secrets, and more.
Why Are Entertainment Contracts So Important?
Knowing where all parties involved stand is essential, regardless of what is at stake when entering a business arrangement. This need for assurance becomes even more intense when an entertainment arrangement is formed, as entertainment projects tend to involve high stakes, significant cash flow, and confidentiality concerns.
Suppose you enter a project with a long-time friend or family member and mutually decide not to sign an entertainment contract. If the project fails or one of the parties decides they will make significant changes or take the majority of the profit, you may not have sufficient grounds to defend yourself.
Entertainment Contract Riders
Entertainment contracts should be thorough and transparent. It is not uncommon for an entertainment contract to be several pages or even twenty or more pages. Each party will have wishes or demands, leading to lengthy contracts. It is important to be as thorough as possible, so all parties have clear expectations and options for recourse should they need it.
Some contracts will also contain riders specific to things like hospitality, production, and more.
For example, if you are a performer and have specific dietary requirements or wishes when traveling, these can be stipulated in a hospitality rider. Artists may also wish to include specifics regarding where they stay and how they are transported to different locations (bus, first-class airplane accommodations, etc.) throughout the project.
Why Hire an Entertainment Attorney?
As summarized above, entertainment contracts have intricacies and complexities that most other industries don’t require. By working with an entertainment attorney well-versed in the entertainment world, you can have peace of mind knowing that through their vast knowledge, experience, and connections within the industry, you are in good hands, and your financial considerations are too.
Items to Consider When Hiring an Entertainment Attorney
Experience is incredibly invaluable in this industry. If you attempt to work with an attorney with experience in other industries, they may not grasp the complexities of this industry. Would you trust an optician to perform a necessary heart transplant? Though the entertainment industry may not be as close to a life-or-death situation, your reputation, livelihood, and career depend on each project or business venture being thoroughly protected
It may seem counterintuitive to spend more money to protect your money. On the contrary, choosing a lesser experienced lawyer or no lawyer at all could cost you everything in the end. Discuss a reasonable fee schedule with an experienced lawyer, and remember that though the investment may be significant, protecting your legacy, reputation, and financial status throughout your career is invaluable.
Also, consider the attorney’s personal style. You are trusting them with a significant time of your career, and it is important that their style mirrors yours so they thoroughly understand you and how you prefer to do business.
An experienced entertainment attorney will likely have connections in the industry as well. We don’t have to explain how vital connections in this industry can be. Relationships to get your foot in the door in this industry are essential; connections that provide necessary protection are also invaluable.
Not Just Another Industry Attorney
With our extensive history of helping clients in this industry, we are confident that we can help your entertainment industry needs. Whether it’s forming or negotiating a contract or legal representation when a contract is breached, we have vast experience in these matters. You must protect yourself and your career from the beginning.
Let us review your current projects and discuss ways in which you can ensure you are protected from the unexpected to occur. Call our office at (323) 230-6200 to learn more.