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Home » Traveling Musician » Contract Considerations for Artists Crossing Borders

Contract Considerations for Artists Crossing Borders


robert-bairdby Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!)

When you are negotiating to perform in another country, there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account. There may be language problems, or cultural differences. Be sure you are clear on what is being said or written and know that some cultures may not respond as quickly as necessary, especially when the time to obtain a visa has to be factored into preparations for the performance. It is a good idea to have contracts finalized in plenty of time to allow for the processing of paperwork required to enable the artist to enter the country and perform.

I have decided to start trying to secure some gigs across the border. I was wondering if there are any additional considerations I should think about in negotiating contracts in another country.

Here are a few other things to consider:

1) You need to determine who is going to apply for the required visas, work permits, etc., and who is responsible for the costs. Sometimes, the person hiring you can facilitate, and even obtain the required paperwork. But if the artist has to negotiate the application process, then it is important to know who will pay the required fees.

2)  In North America, with the fluctuating Canadian and American dollar, a decision has to be made as to which currency should be used for payment of the terms of a contract, and even what rate of exchange will be used, and when it will be applied to the payment. The same considerations would apply to foreign contracts: what currency will be used for payment and when will payment be made. In addition, how the payment will be made is important: will it be by cash, wire transfer, money order, check, or cheque? In the latter case it may be impossible or expensive to cash a cheque drawn on a bank in another country, and this needs to be clarified. If there are processing fees, who will pay them?

3) Who will be paying the artist’s travel costs and accommodation? These costs need to be factored into the artist’s fee and should be addressed in the contract negotiations.

4)  More often, presenters are asking artists to provide their own liability insurance and, again, this is an added cost for the artist. It is possible that the presenter can add the artist to an existing insurance policy and this should be discussed.

5)  In the event that a performance needs to be cancelled, due either to force majeure or for any other reason (acceptable reasons should be clarified in the contract), there should be an agreement as to the consequences for either party. Does the artist have to cover some of the presenter’s costs, if he or she cancels? Does a deposit have to be returned? Does the presenter have to cover some of the artist’s costs, if he or she cancels? And is the presenter liable for the entire fee, if the cancellation comes too close to the concert date?

6)  Many jurisdictions are required to withhold taxes from an artist’s fee, unless the artist can provide a waiver of withholding. Investigate ways to avoid withholding.

7)  How disputes are to be handled should be specified in the contract, along with a specified jurisdiction to avoid having to fight a legal battle in another country.

In general, clear and constant communication will make life a lot easier for the artist negotiating terms to cross a border to perform.

—I welcome your questions and concerns.
Please write to me at: While I cannot answer every question I receive in this column, I will feature as many as I can and I promise to answer every e-mail I receive.

Pour lire cet article dans la visite Français:érations-contractuelles-pour-les-engagements-à-l’étranger.


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