MUSIC BUSINESS: It's Your Business


If you have a band and you have booked your band, even once, you already are an Indie Music Entrepreneur. You have ‘contracted’ with a venue and have ‘agreed on some terms’ and set a show date, on which you have ‘provided a service’. That is a business deal, right? We know it doesn’t feel that way though because most bookings are pretty casual and you, as an Indie Band, more often than not have to Pay to Play. You either have to sell tickets, buy tickets, promise to bring 15 people to the gig and/or any other additional service. Probably you don’t even think of yourselves as performing a service. Chuck has always been interested in helping his fellow Indie Musicians and we, as The team on his website, would like to change all that, if possible. You are entertaining an audience and that is a service. We think the only way to start developing some power, as Indie Musicians, is to join forces and decide to become more business-like. It’s not going to happen over-night and it’s not even going to be easy to believe that it can be done. Nevertheless, we believe it can, so we are committing to share every idea we have to making some changes.

Our first contribution in this direction is the Indie Rider Template. This is not something that we are advocating that you use as is. It’s a place to start so that you can develop your own set of requirements for the gigs you book. We encourage you to adapt it in any way that makes it work for your particular band working in your location. Small towns and big cities have a different set of considerations for bands so one standard rider would not work for all. Here is a link to a PDF with the OM Indie Rider to download. We wish you every success. If you have a minute, we’d love to hear how it goes. You can send an email to

What is a Rider? A formal Rider Agreement is a legal document that is part of a larger contract. The larger contract is usually between the artist’s management company and the producers of a concert or a concert tour. We realize that Indie Bands are not usually involved in this type of contract agreement. If you are, you need more than the OM Indie Rider. However, we also believe that some sort of agreement ought to exist between Indie Bands and the venue owners/managers because Indie Bands are so often mistreated and unacknowledged.

Usually there is no contract agreement when an Indie Band books a gig. We understand that introducing the Indie Rider may, in some cases, result in not being booked if the venue manager is skeptical of this new twist. You can assure him or her that you are not asking for anything other than general information that will allow you to provide the best possible performance. However, the venue manager may very well not want to commit to anything. If it becomes an issue, it might help to just put the paper away and verbally ask the questions that need to be asked. Write down the answers, so you don’t forget them, sign it, date it, and if it seems appropriate, offer to give the manager a copy. This is not as formal but you’ll know what to expect; there will be no surprises at show time, which is the purpose of having a rider. We are not expecting that you would ever need to use it for legal purposes but it would stand up in court. For instance, if you were promised safe storage for your band’s equipment and you find that your $2000 Martin has been stolen from the back room anything that was recorded in writing, dated and signed, would help. We also believe that if Indie Bands are business-like and exhibit concern for where, and under what circumstances they perform, the business of indie music will improve.

If you are a brand new band and feel that the term Rider is too legal for you, please feel free to change the title to anything that will work; venue agreement, set-up terms, requirements list or even just gig notes. And too, please add or subtract anything to meet your band’s needs.

One Last Note If you are feeling resistance to this idea because, as one indie musician said when he heard about the idea, “Oh, we are not big enough for all that stuff. People would laugh.” Please try to think of any other business transaction that can be made without some ground rules. We couldn’t think of any. If you have a band and you play in public places, you do have a business. We want to help you make it a thriving, productive business.

Here's the link: Indie Rider Template