Negotiating Contracts

We strongly recommend that you have a brief advising consultation with a member of the professional staff team in Student Programs before making contact with a potential lecturer, entertainer, dj, etc., or their representative agencies. We can help to map out a good plan, and enter into successful negotiations. By working with experienced Student Programs staff to navigate the process, you are assured that the final agreement is acceptable, accurate, favorable, and enforceable.

Potential presenters (or their agents) will want to know most of these details before they can consider viability of a proposal:

  • Possible event dates
  • Our location, basic college info, and the venue you propose to use
  • Estimated event time
  • Length of program/presentation
  • Estimated audience (size & demographics)
  • Event goals, beneficiaries, inclusion in larger program (festival, conference, series..)
  • Your Budget range, and sponsors
  • see below for the list of things you will want to know from them.

You have to be very careful when communicating with artists (or their agents) not to enter into any phone or email exchanges that could be misconstrued as "Contractual". It is professional to let them know that you are shopping around and considering multiple choices (No, you don't have to say who). Don't use any language that sounds like you are confirming a deal (like saying you can do specific dollar amounts or dates) or making a non-specific offer but saying "you will make it happen", or anything else that sounds like a promise or commitment that you are not yet authorized to make. Contracts committing any college funds must be first approved in our office (or by other campus professional staff) - student signatures alone on a contract are not permitted.

Another important note of not discuss contract details or prices of artists on your open membership lists or blogs or facebook posts, etc. It's in bad taste, and can make for some very uncomfortable negotiations with other artists in the future. In some instances it is illegal to disclose publicly the content of some artists contracts or negotiations or riders. Rarely are presenter fees a fixed price - many elements determine costs on their end, and many accommodations are made to match budgets. (Pricing for many is a bit like assessing tuition and financial aid formulas - tricky business with most everyone trying to do their best to make it work).

What if the performer has contacted us?

Presenters, artists, speakers bureaus, and agents often work hard to try to be in touch with college event planners - they want to bring their offerings to your attention. Possibly they are on a particular tour in our area and want to add MHC as a stop to the tour. Your first job is to assess the program they are offering against your planning groups mission and goals. Are they really who you all want to put your energies into? If they are, communicate back politely that you are interested in exploring the idea further, but that you still have steps to take before you can determine if it is possible to bring them to campus. Ask general questions - without making any promises! If the group remains interested meet with Student Programs to look over the proposal.

Some information you'll want to know in order to be able to consider a potential presenter/lecturer/artist:

  • Date / Date range of availability
  • Current tour topic, show design, etc. (Many artists and lecturers vary their programs form season to season)
  • Do they have plans to present the same program anywhere else in our region? (This has pros and cons, and sometimes is / is not an option).
  • Technical Requirements to present the show. (Ask if a technical rider is avail.) What do they expect of the venue? What do they bring with them?
  • Ask for a list of other colleges at which they have presented this program, and a referral or two that you can contact.
  • Artist/Presenter asking fee (price range for the particular program).*
  • Expectations for air/ground transportation, lodging, meals and incidentals. Do they have special requirements in any of these areas?
  • Extra charges for longer/additional programs, or presentations, e.g. Q&A's, workshops, meet & greets, signings, panels, etc.
  • Permissions and costs if you decide to do any audio or video taping / webcasting.
  • Will they be merchandising anything on their visit? and if so are they self-contained?

* More often than not, the size of our college and the size of our programming budgets will make many presenter's "asking fees" feel out of range for us. After you have collected all of your information, and consulted with Student Programs about your plan, it is appropriate and professional to negotiate with a counter offer that is in keeping with what you can afford. Politely offering less than the asking fee is not a reflection on the value you place on the presenter, but rather a realistic conversation about what is affordable for your project.

International Guests

International appearances may require extra attention, longer timelines, government paperwork and sometimes additional fees for visas, surcharges, tax rates, etc.

Travel and Lodging arrangements for performers

As a general rule, the college recommends that you leave lodging and especially travel arrangements up to the performer, even if it means paying them an equivalent sum as part of the negotiated fee. If, however, you are required to make the arrangements - don't delay! Call the Willits-Hallowell Center, x2217, for on-campus accommodations or consult the Office of Student Programs for additional off-campus lodging recommendations and contractual guidance.

All contracts committing college resources, including funding and/or facilities, must be first reviewed and signed by a professional staff person from Student Programs. Doing so protects the college, as well as individual students and student organizations, from liability. Be wary of making any agreement, including verbal, texted, e-mailed, for which you could be held personally responsible. Don't let yourself be pressured into making a commitment in violation of this explicit condition. If necessary, explain the MHC contracting policy to the performer, agent, or service provider. Contact Student Programs for assistance.

Contracting Your Entertainment (DJ/band/performer/lecturer, etc.)