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The life of a nightclub promoter is risky. For every event that pulls in a lot of cash, there are a couple that lose money. A thorough club promoter contract is the best way to help prevent losses and ensure a solid show. When it comes down to it club promoters and clubs are on the same side. They both want to pack the place and make a sizable profit, but expectations need to be set beforehand.
Always Cover the Basics in a Club Promoter Contract
Any club promoter contract should cover the very basics of the event. Most contracts clearly outline the following:
- The date of the event
- The venue name (include the address and phone number)
- The load-in time
- Event start and end time
- Club facilities open for use (like dressing rooms and showers)
- Artist rider (which is particularly important regarding alcohol licensing)
- Backline equipment
- Merchandise terms
- Payment, split and expenses
- Required insurance and security (if venue requires it at all)
Additionally, most club promoter contracts include a clause where the promoter is responsible for damages that occur during their event. Basically, the most important thing to a nightclub renting out their space is knowing that they're going to get paid and their facilities will not be destroyed in the process.
Finances Should Be Up Front
If you’re looking at a nightclub promoter agreement sample, you’ll probably notice that the finances are completely up front. There are a few types of payment structures nightclubs use with promoters.
- Door-split deals
- Flat rental rates
- Bar percentage minimums and kick backs
For a door-split deal, a promoter will be paid a percentage of the ticket sales, while the nightclub will keep the rest. For example, a promoter might be paid 75% of the door after 15 tickets are sold (15 tickets being the number a club needs to sell to cover their nightly expenses). On the contrary, small club may charge a room rental rate of, say, $500 up front regardless of whether or not any tickets are sold in order to cover staff expenses, sound technicians, and security. This is a bit of a gamble for a promoter if they're working with a new act, but the promoter stands to make a lot more money if the gig does really well.
Nightclubs also do bar minimum deals with promoters, which means an event needs to make X amount of money from bar sales or the promoter has to pay a room rental fee. A promoter might also look to add a bar kick-back clause to a nightclub promoter agreement, but this is typically only granted if the promoter already has a good, proven relationship with the club. This means a promoter is given a certain percentage of bar sales if the event makes a certain amount of revenue. Basically, it's a reward for booking a great, lucrative event.
Don’t Forget the Backline
Artists often have gear preferences and promoters are responsible for providing that gear. For this reason, a club promoter agreement should outline what gear the club will provide, if any. This way, the promoter has adequate time to find gear rentals if the artist has a specific brand or model outlined in their contract that isn't readily available.
Some nightclubs also have stagehand union labor, which means anyone who is not a stagehand cannot legally bring gear into the building or set it on stage. This should be outlined in advance so a promoter doesn't accidentally break union laws by loading in his own PA system, for example.
Merchandise Terms Vary
Many nightclubs take a percentage of merch profits (between 10% to 20%), while others let artists keep all of their sales. This is mandated by the nightclub, not the promoter, so it should be outlined in the nightclub promoter agreement. Some clubs also require their own staff to vend the merchandise, while other clubs require the artist to bring her own vendor.
Other Legal Considerations
There are a few other legal considerations outlined in nightclub promoter agreements. For one, some venues require promoters to carry event insurance. Even if the club already has its own event insurance, it would be wise to carry a policy anyway.
Alcohol licensing laws also vary depending on the state and the license carried by the club. This should be outlined in a club promoter contract. In some cases, a promoter will not legally be able to provide outside alcohol requested on their artist's rider and must, instead, purchase it from the bar. Some clubs only allow alcohol to be given to artists in the form of drink tickets. Other clubs have exclusive contracts with liquor brands or are only legally allowed to sell beer.
Alcohol laws also varies based on whether it's kept back stage or in the front of house. Always ask for clarification in your contract beforehand.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.