How to File a Live Performance Contract
by Bill Brennan
In my experience, completing and filing live engagement contracts has been quite a simple and valuable process. Simple in that it doesn't take much time, and all that is needed is basic arithmetic; valuable because an AFM Live Performance Contract allows you (on behalf of the purchaser) to put money into your pension plan. Once you become vested in this plan you will see your pension amount steadily grow if you keep filing contracts. Yearly statements are issued by the AFM-EPW Pension Fund. Contracts are also valuable because they legally protect both the musicians and the purchaser (your client). If you get stood up by an employer or are not paid then AFM will enforce the contract you have signed.
Our association has a Schedule of Minimum Fees. You can pick one up or have one sent to you by the Local office. Contracts may be made for larger amounts, but pension and work dues are ALWAYS paid based on minimum scale fees, so you will need a copy of the Local's current Schedule of Minimum Fees which has been approved by members.
You can pick up a Live Performance Contract from your association office, have us send you one or register at the AFM website and download a copy of the Canadian live performance contract from the document library at www.afm.org.
Here are two examples of how to complete an AFM Live Performance Contract:
Example #1: Filing a Basic Live Performance Contract
Someone asks you to put together a quintet for a wedding. The call is 2 hours. You obtain a copy of the standard Live Performance Contract from the Local's office (or online) and fill in the blanks telling where, when and who will be performing, and the payment to be received. On the back of the contract go the names of the musicians, their addresses, social insurance numbers, instruments played and minimum scale fees, as well as work dues and pension amounts.
The current minimum scale payment for each side musician is $100. This does not mean that you have to charge $100 per musician. These amounts are simply the minimum you should ask. The leader receives 50% more, under minimum scale, to cover the duties of organizing the group and filing the contract.
On top of these fees, pension is paid at 10% - 18% of scale ($100 x 10% = $10 - $18). A leader would get "leader's scale" (and perhaps more) since they are doing a lot of the administrative work. The leader can build this into the fee as he or she sees fit. The leader's scale would also mean that his/her pension amount is 50% more, and same for the work dues (10% of $150 = $15).
To file this contract with the association a cheque must be made out to the AFM-EPW Fund for $55 from either the purchaser or you as leader on behalf of the purchaser. If you are writing a cheque on behalf of the purchaser make sure that you write on the cheque "on behalf of purchaser" - this is very important!
Work dues of 3% of minimum scale are paid out of each employee's fee. In this case, you as leader would write a cheque for work dues to the Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians' Association for $16.50 ($3 per sideman, $4.50 for the leader).
If the fee that you charged your client was the minimum, then here is how the payments would break down:
The four sidemen each get paid $100 less $3.00 work dues = $97 each
You as leader get paid $150 - $4.50 (work dues) = $145.50
AFM-EPW cheque = $55
Work dues cheque = $16.50
(I have found that it is easier for the client if you build the pension amount into the fee/invoice that you give to them.)
Example #2: Larger Amounts, HST Included
Let's say that you are charging the client $1500 plus HST (assuming you are an HST registrant) and that pension is included in the fee. Assuming the details of the gig are the same as above, a work dues cheque must still be made out to our Local for 3% of minimum scale fees, which would be $16.50 ($3 x 4 people and $4.50 for the leader). A cheque must also be made out to the AFM-EPW for $55 ($10 pension x 4 people and $15 for the leader). Once again, on the cheque to the AFM-EPW makes sure that you write "on behalf of purchaser" - this is very important!
If you are the leader and you are HST-registered then make sure you charge HST on your full amount. If you are not HST registered but one of your band mates is, you must still pay them HST on their part of the fee. Build their HST amount into the overall fee.
Assistance with completing and filing contracts is always available from your local association. Call us at 709-722-8005.
More Information on Contracts: