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Engagement Booking for Unsigned and Emerging Artists

Updated: 30 March 2022 | 17:03 PM

These guidelines are aimed at Unsigned/Emerging Artists (i.e., those without representation from agents, managers or other third parties) performing predominantly original material.


The following details should be agreed and then confirmed as part of the performance contract.

Performance rates

Negotiate with venue owners/promoters. When guaranteed fees are not available, refer to the Fair Play Guide to ensure that any ticketing deals are fair.

See MU recommended minimum rates.


If any costs are to be deducted from ticket revenue before you receive your percentage share, ensure that these costs are detailed and understood at the time of booking.


Clarify if any subsistence is available:

  • Food & drinks rider or buyout
  • Accommodation.

Performance information

These details may not be available at the time of booking but should be provided at an agreed time e.g., no later than 14 days before the performance:

  • Arrival: load-in and load-out times
  • Access arrangements: Refer to Attitude is Everything's guidance if necessary
  • Parking details: Including local restrictions
  • Gear sharing: Will the backline be provided? Are you required to share any of
    your gear with other artists?
  • Sound desk info: If you have your own sound engineer, they may request advance details of the sound desk. Similarly, a venue may request that you provide a copy of your technical spec or stage plot in advance of your performance
  • Length and time of sound check
  • Time and length of performance
  • Confirmation of ‘doors’/public entry time to venue.


When all terms have been agreed, use a contract to confirm the booking. As well as ensuring that both parties are aware of their responsibilities, this will also help to protect you in the event that the other party tries to cancel the show or fails to pay you the agreed amount. You may wish to use an MU contract.


Promotional activities from each party should be agreed, including gig announcements, social media activities and paid-for advertising. Refer to the Fair Play Guide for further advice.

Recording and broadcasting

The venue/promoter will need to obtain your consent in order to record or broadcast part or all of your performance. Fees for recording and broadcasting can be sourced from the MU and should be in addition to any performance fee.

Health and Safety

  • Backstage facilities: Where possible, you should be provided with a private and secure area with toilet facilities, drinking water and safe storage for personal effects
  • Venues are responsible for the safety of all their permanent electrical and lighting provisions
  • Any use of stage smoke, lighting or pyrotechnic effects should be done fully in compliance with UK Health and Safety legislation
  • Some venues require musicians to be covered by Public Liability Insurance. MU members are covered to the value of £10m, which can be demonstrated through a certificate
  • All musicians should make themselves aware of evacuation routes and procedures.


Both parties should act fairly and with respect and not discriminate on grounds of gender, gender reassignment, marital status (including civil partnerships), race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, national origin, religion or age.


A separate agreement exists between the MU and the Association of Independent Festivals for use by Unsigned/Emerging Artists performing at independent festivals.