Saturday, July 23, 2011

Read The Riders

An attorney once told me that every single phrase in every contract has a story or experience behind it, providing the reason it's there. As you read "standard" riders of touring artists you have to wonder what happened to get the act to "demand" certain things.

Fortunately, everything is negotiable and it's generally possible to remove at least some of them from the agreements of agents and artists who you'd want to work with long term during the booking process.

For example, I sometimes recommend to non-reporting radio station clients who want to gain a solid music leadership position that they begin to promote their own shows, bringing artists into town themselves if local promoters, venues and agents have developed such a cozy relationship with each other that they attempt to block any access to existing performances by important stars.

Usually, the first time they try this they are presented with a contract containing a "standard rider" requiring the venue and the artist to work only with the local reporting or monitored radio station.

You can't blame them for trying. After all, no artist or label wants a reporter to drop a song because a competing station that isn't a reporter is bringing them to town and it's very convenient to blame the rider in the contract so that the artist, booking agent or record label can feel like they're not being "the bad guy."

If an artist won't drop a rider that offends you, don't book them.

These discussions can be quite adult and friendly when held early in the process, but can get ugly and angry when done once the contract has been signed and the show is tonight.

Caveat emptor.

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