Festival Appearance Cancelled due to Breach of Contract

Music festivals and concert venues operate on the basis of performance contracts that are issued to visiting artists and groups. Even though they may only be valid for a one-night, one-time appearance, these contractual arrangements still function in the same manner as an employment contract, outlining the responsibilities of each party and the conditions of employment. As always – it pays to read the fine print.

A case in point involves a music festival held each year near Hamilton, Ontario. The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic recently announced that it had cancelled one of the artists in the proposed line-up based on a breach of contract. Specifically, the contract included a clause that stipulated:

  • Artist agrees not to perform within 90 days and 100 kilometres of Hamilton, Ontario.

It’s a common clause in performance contracts of this type. A festival or concert venue is relying on the draw power of the individual artist in order to sell tickets and build the audience numbers and pays artists accordingly. If that same artist is playing another date close in time and location to the contracted performance, it dilutes that drawing power. It’s considered especially egregious when, as in this case, one performance is free and the other ticketed.

The Details

The details illustrate how the matter is looked at from both sides of the equation.

  • In this case, the folk artist Iron and Wine had played a free show in Buffalo, less than a 125km drive from the Hamilton area location of the Greenbelt Festival.
  • However, the distance (as specified in the contract) is measured not in terms of driving distance but as a direct measurement of distance from one location to the other. In this case, it was a mere 80km as the crow flies.
  • The artist, in turn, insisted it was a misunderstanding – the Buffalo performance was a different type of show and featured different material than he would have at the Festival.

The Festival director, however, felt that the breach of contract was clear. “The damage is done when you played at a free festival,” he noted in a published story on the case.

Your Employment Contract

It seems clear that this case involved a misunderstanding or omission on the part of the musician, who didn’t feel that the two performances conflicted. Misunderstandings, however, don’t carry the day and the Festival director dropped the artist from the line-up.

You may not be a musician or performer but your employment contract will also hinge on a number of clauses that can involve matters that range beyond strictly job performance issues. It’s of vital importance that you understand the agreement and all its implications before you sign on the dotted line.

Contractual issues can get complicated, especially in today’s world of freelancing, contractual and temporary employment. We can help you sort out the issues and let you know of any potential trouble spots before they happen. The best time to consult a lawyer about your employment contract is before you sign on the dotted line. A full and complete understanding of your employment contract is your best protection against future problems.

If you are already working under a contract and issues have come up, don’t hesitate – you need expert legal advice. You’ll need the help of experienced breach of contract lawyers.  If you think your rights under a contractual agreement are being disregarded contact Petrillo Law today or call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced contract lawyer.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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