Live Performance: Legal Considerations For Musicians


For most artistes, performing live is a significant source of income as it also gives them the chance to connect with their audience in the same way that their music did and to see how they are received, which helps them assess how good of a performer they are.

Live events are occasionally sponsored by brands, breweries, telecom companies, banks, and other companies that sell products and services. Through Live performances artiste are able to promote their albums and record releases.

Live events and performances are an important part of an artist's marketing strategy because they help with record sales, album promotions, and money generation from ticket and product sales as well as sponsorships. 


A number of legal factors must be taken into account when hosting a live performance in order to make sure everything goes smoothly and successfully. When preparing and performing live, the following legal factors should be taken into account;


CONTRACTS: Before embarking on a concert/tour, ensure you have a contract in place to govern your transactions with live music industry stakeholders such as the artiste manager, booking agent, concert promoter, venue owners, etc. The contract should clearly outline the terms and conditions of the performance and protect the musician, their representatives, the venue and the event organizers.

The key elements the contract needs to address are;

Time, Date and place of event: Details regarding when and where the performance will take place should be expressly stated. Confirm that the venue meets technical requirements for sound and lighting as some venues may have specific rules about sound levels, equipment use, and guest conduct. 

Compensation: Fee structure, including deposit and final payment timelines.

Revenue from ticket sales: Parties should agree on how the revenues from ticket sales will be shared, or if it will be part of an all-inclusive lump sum payment to be pad to the artist.

Length of performance: Duration of the set and any breaks.

Technical Requirements: Equipment and technical support needed.

Cancellation Policy/clauses: Terms for cancellation by either party and any associated penalties.

Force Majeure: Clauses that address unexpected events like natural disasters. 

In order to prevent any issues that may arise before or during the performance, it is crucial to make sure that all contractual duties are understood. Ensure agreements cover multiple performances and address logistics, accommodations, transportation, and per diems.


INSURANCE AND SAFETY: It is crucial to implement safety protocols to guarantee the well-being of performers and the audience, and that equipment are insured against unexpected circumstances while on tour. 

General liability insurance covers accidents and injuries that occur during the performance and Protection against loss or damage to instruments and equipment is covered by equipment insurance. Cancellation insurance protects against monetary loss in the event that unforeseen occurrences lead to the cancellation of the live event/performance.    

Insurance offers protection against financial losses and liabilities however, ensure to conduct assessments to identify and mitigate potential hazards at the venue. Make sure emergency evacuation plans and procedures are well-defined, and that local health and safety laws and policies are followed. 



When doing a live international performance, it's crucial to consider things like work permits and visas. Secure necessary documentation and right paperwork in advance to avoid delays or performance cancellations. Additionally, confirm that the location of the live performance has the appropriate permits to host the event. 



Artistes in Nigeria are obligated to declare and pay personal income tax. Withholding tax applies where the event organizers or promoters are required to withhold taxes from the artiste performance fee and remit to the tax authorities which is charged at 10%. Sales of concert tickets, merchandise, and other physical commodities are subject to a 7.5% value added tax.



Artiste/ Performers need to be aware of copyright laws, especially when performing cover songs as permissions/ authorization may be required from the original copyright holder to perform such musical work. If performing an original music, ensure proper copyright registration protects your work.

Ensure that the venue has the necessary licenses from performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC as PROs collect royalties on behalf of the Artiste for the public performance of their songs. Ensure to provide set-lists to PROs to ensure accurate royalty distribution.

Address whether the performance can be recorded and how the recordings will be used. Also, rights to recording and use of artist's image/likeness for promotion should be addressed.


Planning beforehand and paying close attention to details are essential while navigating the legal landscape of live performances. Through careful attention to these important legal factors, performers can safeguard their rights, maintain compliance, and concentrate on giving exceptional performances.