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Standard Contracts

Musicians are strongly advised to obtain written confirmation of all engagements. MU Standard Contract templates are here to facilitate this.

Last updated: 12 June 2023

What are the MU Standard Contracts?

Standard Contracts were developed by the Musicians' Union for freelence musicians to use as standardised tempalates for relevant engagements. MU Standard Contracts templates contain all the necessary field of information, along with terms and conditions to protect musicians in case of a dispute. Our up-to-date templates are fillable online and provide an opportunity to sign contracts digitally, while also being able to have a printable version of a contract.

It is in musicians' interests to always use an MU Standard Contract as they provide evidence of the conditions of an engagement if a dispute arises. MU members can also benefit from a Contract Advice. The MU cannot always assist if the contract does not cover you, or if you do not have one.

In cases where standard MU contracts are not used, written evidence of engagements is essential.

A letter or note should specify the date, time and place of the engagement, the fee, and that the engagement is subject to MU rates and conditions. Such a letter or note should be signed by someone fully authorised to do so.

Advice against penalty clauses

Note that none of the MU Standard Contracts contain a sliding scale of fees payable in the event of cancellation. This is because once a gig is contracted, the full amount is due if the hirer cancels, subject only to an obligation to mitigate your loss by trying to find alternative work.

You may sometimes insert a sliding scale of fees into your contracts, so the closer to the gig date the cancellation occurs, the higher the sum payable. If these figures are not a genuine pre-estimate of the loss you will suffer, then they may be regarded in law as a “penalty” and unenforceable, especially if you manage to find replacement work.

If you are using these sliding scales in your contracts you should be prepared to justify the figures. A sliding scale can also mean you receive less in compensation than you might otherwise receive had you sued for the full fee subject to mitigation.

MU Standard contracts

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