Glossary of Entertainment Terms

As you dive into the world of entertainment, you may hear some terms that you are not familiar with, or are only vaguely familiar with.  Here are a few definitions that can help you better understand and conduct business in entertainment.

Artist – performer of any kind.  (Sometimes referred to as “Producer” in entertainment contracts.)

Headliner – main Artist, which must be reflected in all marketing efforts.  They perform last.

Support Act – opening performer or performers, performing before the Headliner.

Direct Support – Artist performing immediately before the Headliner.

Buyer or Purchaser – the entity that is financially and contractually responsible for a performance occurring in a space they have arranged for it to occur in.

Contract – a written or spoken agreement concerning employment, sales, tenancy, etc that is intended to be enforceable by law.  In this case, an artist contract is an agreement to perform within the specified parameters in exchange for an agreed upon dollar amount.

Rider – a condition or provision added to something already said or decreed.  In our case, a rider “rides along with” an Artist contract to further outline what is expected of both the Artist and the Buyer.  An Artist Rider includes technical, hospitality and marketing requirements or restrictions that the Artist expects the Buyer to provide and adhere to.  A Buyer Rider (whether it is that of a Venue, University or Festival) includes legal & insurance requirements, state, city and venue policies, and key information that the Buyer expects the Artist to adhere to.  All riders are considered part of the contract and therefore should be included with the contract when obtaining signatures.

Flat Guarantee – a predetermined, set amount of money that a Buyer will pay an Artist in exchange for their performance, regardless of ticket sales or financial outcome of the event.

Backend Guarantee – a predetermined percentage of net profit to be given to an Artist in exchange for their performance.  Often agreements are “flat plus backend deals,” which means a Buyer will pay an Artist a set amount of money plus a percentage of net proceeds.


Verse Deal – an agreement for a Buyer to pay an Artist the larger amount of EITHER a flat guarantee OR a backend after proceeds are determined.

Deposits – a financial down payment for an Artist to perform.  Colleges and Universities are rarely able to pay deposits, and the Artist cannot require them to per law.  A typical deposit for other Buyers is a 50% deposit, 30 days prior to show date.  Otherwise full payment or rest of payment is made immediately following an Artist’s performance.

Settlement – going through final ticket sales and the amount an Artist is to be paid.  With a flat guarantee, settlement is very short and straight forward.  With a backend or verse deal, settlement is perhaps a bit more complicated because you buyers have to present all expenses with receipts to the tour manager, as well as all box office revenue.  Even in a flat guarantee scenario, paying an Artist’s tour manager and handing them a box office report at the end of the show should be expected.

Radius Clause – a specific distance around a Venue in which the Buyer expects the Artist to avoid performing within in a specific number of days.  For example, a Buyer can request that an Artist not perform within a 100 mile radius 30 days either side of play date.  If the Artist receives offers within 100 miles and within a 30 day window of the contracted performance, they must pass on the second offer or ask permission of the first Buyer to play within their given radius.

Ad Mats – short for “advertising materials,” ad mat refers to any poster, radio ad, television ad or other created piece used to advertise a performance.  Often an Artist will require the use of a pre-made ad mat to be used in conjunction with a tour so that the materials remain consistent throughout the tour.

Ad Plan/Ad Grid – a graph and/or list of advertising and promotion plans, with dates of release, for marketing a performance.  It outlines what marketing efforts will be made between point of announce and the day of the performance.

Billing – the listing of the performers on any and all written or spoken documents and marketing materials.  Often the Headliner must receive 100% billing and any Support Acts 75% or smaller.  This means the logo, font and photo size of all Support Act info must be no larger than 75% the size of the Headliner’s logo, font and photo in all print materials.

Advance – to “advance” a show means to discuss all details about an upcoming performance with a tour and production manager of the Artist.

Backline – band or performance equipment above and beyond sound and lighting requirements, such as pianos, keyboards, guitars, drum kits, monitors, etc.

Merchandise – any items an Artist intends to sell at the Venue they are performing at.

Merch Rate – the agreed upon split point of gross merchandise sales.  For example, an 80/20% merch split means the Artist gets to keep 80% of the gross sales at a venue while the Buyer (or Venue) keeps 20% of the gross sales.

Runner – a designated person with a vehicle who is specifically responsible for running errands, transporting performers to and from their hotel, and taking care of other spontaneous needs.

ASCAP/BMI/SESAC – several companies that license music rights.  Venues must carry these licenses in order to have performances at their facilities.  Typically universities and university venues have campus coverage for these licenses.

Have you come across other terms you aren’t familiar with?  Let us know and we’ll add them to our list!

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