Sometime you have to throw your own events to promote yourself. Therefore, knowing the ins and outs of working with venues is essential not only protecting yourself, but also to avoid falling into a financial mess. We are going to look closely at all the things to consider when dealing with venues such as talent, revenue, marketing, staff, funding and more.
While a simple contract outlining the event basics is much more easy to put together and look over, missing certain aspects can come back to bite you pretty hard. There can be situations that are unforeseen so it is best to try and anticipate and plan for the worst so you can always refer back to the contract in case something goes wrong. You can use a lawyer if you like, but that may not be necessary unless it is a particularly large event with a lot of money on the line.
1. Who’s Who: Acknowledge the key people on both sides. Who is the promoter(s) and who represents the venue.
2. Date & Time: Outline the dates and time of the event. Is it a one time thing or a weekly/monthly occurrence?
3. Description: Describe the event, music style, and entertainment format. This can be important if the venue decides to change format on you.
4. Space: Clearly identify the space being used. Some venues have multiple spaces within and you want it to be clear which area is yours.
5. Duration: Agree to duration of the contract. You may agree to a trial period of a few months before locking at six months to a year.
6. Cancellation: Sometimes venues decide to cancel a night when you’ve already booked talent a month out and perhaps you’ve already paid deposits as well. Add something to protect you from this like a 30 days advance notice of cancellation.
7. Holidays and Special Events: Come to terms in advance for when your night lands on a major holiday such as New Year’s Eve or Black Wednesday. Some venues may want to do their own thing on a holiday without your involvement or they may plan on being closed. Also, you may want to do something different that would go against the agreed upon terms for a single night. In the case of special events where the budget would increase significantly, you may want to have a statement agreeing to use a different contract for that night or special events in general.
8. Talent: Be clear about who is responsible for booking the talent. Not just selecting the talent, but who is paying for it.
9. Equipment: Does the venue have a sound system? What are you responsible for?
10. Sponsors: Some promoters can get sponsors to fund the promotion and talent. If it’s a liquor sponsor, the venue will have to be involved to make sure they carry the brand. If the sponsorship involves product, that will go to the venue and probably be reflected in drink specials, be clear on how to handle this. Free or discounted product for the venue means they will make more money off of that product. So the venue may be able to cover something else in the budget since they will be making more from the liquor sponsor’s product donation. Also, if your sponsors what to sell something at the event make sure the venue is agreeable to this.
11. Liability and Insurance: Venues have insurance policies and you should make sure there is a statement in your contract that clears you of being held responsible for capacity, fire codes violations, fights, people falling etc.
12. Staff: Who is responsible for collecting money at the door? If your agreement is to keep the door revenue than you may want your own person collecting it. If you are splitting it, you will have to consider how this is monitored. Also, security staff can be a factor. By you bringing in a ton of people the venue may have to increase security and they may see this as your responsibility.
13. Revenue Sharing: How will you be paid out? Will you keep the door or take a percentage? Will you get a percentage of the bar…or both?
14. Merchandising: Can you sell products at the venue such as CDs or t-shirts?
15. Marketing and Promotion: How will the event be promoted? Magazine ads, Websites? E-blasts? Flyers? Posters? Street team? Will the venue also promote the event or are they expecting you to do it all? Who will pay for this?
16. Co-Promotions: Who else is promoting the night and how are they being compensated? Are they your partner?
17. Venue Space: Is there a completely different promoter there on the same night using a different space or room? How will that impact your promotion etc?
18. Counting Money: At the end of the night, will you be allowed to supervise when they count money from the door and registers? If you are getting a percentage, you need to ensure that you’re being compensated honestly.
19. Payouts: You should be clear when you will be paid out. You could end up waiting hours after the venue closes. You also don’t want to be put off until the next day or later.
20. Paying Talent: If you have DJs to pay, you can’t make them wait all night for you to get paid. Arrange to have the venue pay them right away if they are responsible. If you are responsible, you should have their money ready before the night begins regardless of the night’s outcome.
Final thoughts and advice:
It is important to know that the venue “expects” you to bring people to their establishment who will spend money. Now if you have a poor agreement and the event does well, you can still end up making nothing….or even loosing. The bottom line here is when you’re throwing your own event, is that you don’t want to loose money….and making some would be nice too. So be highly aware of you budget; what your financial responsibilities are, the venue’s financial responsibilities, and most importantly don’t throw an event that you can’t afford to pay for should it turn out to be a rough night.
So what’s missing?
Let’s hear your thoughts and suggestions. I know many of you have had experiences with venues. What would you add to the contract?