The Live Sound Industry plays host to a wide variety of jobs. These jobs are conditioned by contractual agreements between artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues etc., which will all be discussed in this essay. The essay will explore exactly who may need to draw up a contract, good and bad contracts, how different job roles depends on each other and what it takes to become part of the ever expanding music industry.
The artist is the most obvious role in Live Sound. They produce and perform the music. It goes without saying that without the artist, there would be nothing to perform. For an up and coming act, it helps to tour with other artists. In this case, the artist would work with booking agent to get a support slot for other artists. This gives the opportunity to get their music out to potential fans and build a following.
To make things easier for the artist on the road, they will employ a tour manager. The tour manager is responsible for getting the artist to and from venues, that means arranging travel and hotels. It is important for a tour manager to be organised and carry backup equipment and in some cases even check equipment themselves at venues so that the artist can play to the best of their abilities. A good tour manager will have an understanding of any equipment and setup required by the artist, as well as an understanding of the music industry (and knowledge of the genre and relevant scene).
Tour managers are also responsible for managing money coming in and out and dealing with promoters and venue managers directly to organise shows. As you can see already, a tour manager has a lot of responsibilities and has to keep a busy schedule, making sure the artist also keeps to theirs. To do that, the tour manager will often be side by side with the artist for most of the tour. This means long days and late nights, conditions that can take a toll on the body.
Attributes of a successful tour manager include good social skills, patience and a pro-active nature. Unfortunately, employment routes mainly depend on networking and who you know. You can pick up skills and information to prepare for the job through college and university but usually this sort of role is attained by having friends and contacts in the industry.
The music industry is built upon networking and making contacts. Booking Agents will work with artists, managers, venues and promoters to fill slots for festivals or get artists into clubs. This role requires an extensive level of knowledge and a good relationship with clubs and venues and there managers. Depending on the status of the artist, Booking Agents could be booking for local tours/festivals or countrywide. As a Booker, you connect the dots between artists and venues. It is then the promoter’s job to promote the event and raise enough money to make a profit after everyone else has taken his or her cut. For this reason, promotion can be a risky business to get in to.
Promoters will book acts and often pay deposits upfront for that act. They will then have to market and sell that event, with the hopes of attaining more money than they spent on it. For this reason, a good promoter will have a good understanding of what types of artist sell roughly how many tickets in certain locations and venues. Promoters need to be confident, up to date with current trends in the music industry, and ready to calculate and take controlled risks. Due to the nature of the job, they are the first to take responsibility, and last to get paid.
Being a promoter is not for everyone, and a career in this role can be tough. when considering the routes into the role as a promoter, further education can be beneficial, as it offers academic training, internship opportunities and networking possibilities.
Venues, their management, and staff are all crucial to increasing profits from a performance. Once the right artist is booked for the right venue, the promotion was a success and ticket sales made profit, it’s then down to the logistics and management of the performance. Venues will provide adequate security, staffing and safe environment for which the performance can take place. Technicians and stage crews (working in-house or with the artist) will setup and test equipment, ensuring everything is safe and working throughout the performance and be on hand in anything goes wrong.
In the case of every performance, contracts will be signed, covering for damages, losses, absences etc. These contracts also set out terms for the performance, which may include information such as what instrumentation or setup a venue may provide, how much money the artist will receive and details such as how and when they will receive that money.
There are a few different types of contract that apply between certain people/companies in the live sound sector that differ depending on the services and products supplied. An artist agreement will be signed by artists, venues, promoters and booking agents when planning a performance. Artists will sign contracts with management and agencies, for a manager to manage the tour and allow agencies to arrange bookings for the artist. Its important to make sure that you are allowed to transfer rights, act in your name, and make contracts with third parties so that you don’t sign your life away and get the duff end of the deal.
Ideally, you want to benefit from the contracts you write. You wouldn’t write or sign a contract that gives you a duff deal. This being said, it has to be appealing and appropriate enough to the other party in order for them to sign it. The terms set out in the contract must be professionally written and clear. Term “3” in the contract between artists ‘Mr Tom’ and Munch Fest (below) demonstrate an unclear term.
It gets confusing when it mentions that the royalty is also applied to 190 other tickets. It is also important that the contract sounds professional and well written. The contract below, from a local venue, sets out terms in a manor that seems more like a telling off rather than a legally binding contract.
A good contract is also laid out clearly. The artist agreement from Portsmouth Guildhall is a good example that starts with whom the contract is between and mentions the dates, times and locations of the performance before stating details such as staff, technical and cancellation information (below).
This is also a fairly written contract with both parties benefitting from the agreement.
To conclude, the multiple roles in the Live sound industry depend on each other and a good level of communication to put on great shows. To ensure a smooth running before, during and after the performance, responsibilities of each job role are set out in terms of a contract. These contracts tend to swing in the favour of whoever writes them and covers parties for things that might go wrong. Contracts set out in terms and are legally binding and it is very important to read them carefully before signing them!