Group collaboration agreement

Groups collaborating on joint projects and events can be a lot fun and hugely beneficial for everyone involved. There are things to be aware of that are different to planning normal events and we have produced some guidance that looks at planning a joint event to help with this. One area this covers is having a simple agreement document between the groups. 

We know lots of groups already run joint events, and it is quite common for any agreements to be informal – maybe verbal or in email exchanges. This informal way of working is fine – it is often the most practical way of getting everything done and is also a nice way to work together. We are not suggesting that you complicate the process and introduce a long document full of legalese that saps the fun out of it!

However, a simply-written document that brings into one place what you are trying to do, your commitment to doing it and how you will do it can really help clarify your aims. You can still work in flexible and informal ways – but having an agreement underpinning it will provide goals to work towards and a structure for making decisions.

This guidance looks at the types of things that might go into that agreement: the specifics will vary and you may want to leave some out or add others in, but it should give you an idea of what to consider and help you to produce a simple collaboration agreement to get your project started.

1. The basic terms

Any agreement should start with the most basic info:

  • Who the agreement is between
  • What the agreement relates to (e.g. an agreement between x group and y group to put on a joint performance).
  • A general commitment from both groups to work together in the best interests of both groups and the joint performance.
  • The date of the agreement

2. Joint performance and rehearsals

In this section you can detail the nuts and bolts of how the joint performance will work. You should cover schedules and the commitments and responsibilities of each group:

  • Date of final performance(s) and music to be performed
  • Joint rehearsal schedules (dates, venues) – the actual schedule could be a separate document to make changes easier to accommodate - but the agreement should refer to a separate schedule document
  • Process for making changes to schedule (number of days notice, methods of agreement etc)
  • A commitment from each group to provide a certain number of performers for the final performance(s)
  • A commitment from all groups to attend all joint rehearsals where practically possible
  • A commitment from each group to have reached a certain point in the musical process before each joint rehearsal
  • A commitment from all groups that members will not act or behave in a way to bring either groups reputation into disrepute.

3. Liaison officers

Having a dedicated person from each group as the main contact will help the smooth running of the event.

Your agreement should set out:

  • Who the liaison officers are
  • Their commitment to working together on behalf of their groups in the best interests of both groups and the joint performance.
  • If you have a wider project/event management team they could be referenced here too (e.g. 'the Liaison officers will work with the event project management team to…')

Areas of responsibility: it is tempting to include a catchall phrase to cover everything (e.g. 'The Liaison officers and project management team  are responsible for making all arrangements in relation to the joint performance'). Whilst this is ok it is a good idea to list the major areas for clarity (e.g. '…this can include but is not limited to…'). You should think about:

  • venue liaison
  • managing and running joint rehearsals
  • publicity and printing
  • ticket/sales box office
  • music hire
  • insurance
  • licensing
  • engagement of soloists and orchestral players.
  • performance day planning
  • photographers
  • concert programmes

It is also worth detailing the level of authority the liaison officers have. For example you might state that they can:

  • Negotiate and enter into contracts and agreements with third parties on behalf of both groups, within agreed budget limits.
  • Negotiate contracts and agreements with third parties on behalf of both groups but must get approval from the project management team before making final commitments.
  • You could go for a mixture of the two with set monetary limits (amounts under £x don’t need approval but over £x do).
  • If the liaison officers are given a decent level of authority to spend money then you might consider a line in the agreement that clarifies if/how they should consult with each other before taking action.

4. Financial arrangements

There are a number of different ways to approach how the financial arrangements work in terms how cost and income will be split. Whatever you decide both groups need to be happy and how it will work should be detailed in your agreement. Any financial agreement should also consider what happens if the concert makes a loss and how this will be handled. Decide between you on:

  • The basic premise – including how a loss will be handled. – e.g. 50/50, proportional to ticket sales etc.
  • Any costs that are shared and any costs that are separate to the agreement (for example venue hire might be shared but payment of group expenses, or sheet music hire might be separate).
  • Who is responsible for paying for shared costs
    • Will one group pay for everything and be reimbursed?
    • Will costs be split out (e.g. Group A pays for joint rehearsal venue, Group B pays for performance venue hire) and then any differences reimbursed
  • Any shared income e.g. ticket sales, refreshment sales, advertising, sponsorship etc.
  • Who is responsible for collecting different types of income
  • How and when final calculations of monies owing/owed will be made
  • An approval process for final calculations
  • When final payments have to be made
  • What happens if there is a dispute about the figures

5. Sponsorship

  • If either group has an existing sponsorship agreement it is worth detailing how that will work with the joint event.
  • The simplest way is that it remains separate and the group with the sponsorship agreement retains the benefit of the agreement.
  • If you have a joint sponsorship specifically for the joint event then the basic terms can be referenced here (or in
  • the financial arrangements section) and a separate sponsorship agreement referred to for more detail.

6. Insurance

  • It is likely that both groups will have their own public liability insurance. Assuming this is the case agreement should:
  • State that both groups have public liability cover
  • Detail any contracts (e.g. venue) that have been entered into jointly, where both policies are in place.

Please note: see our separate guidance for more details on how insurance can work for a joint event.

7. Publicity and promotion

Marketing is obviously an important part of any event and you don’t need to list any specific plan in an agreement (although if you do have a written marketing plan you could refer to it).  The key thing to cover in an agreement is shared promotional material e.g.:

  • give each logo equal prominence
  • agree colours to be used
  • wording and billing - e.g. always referred to as a 'a joint performance between x and y'

8. Ownership and use of recordings

If you will be recording the event it is sensible to have a statement relating to who owns the recording and how it will be used:

  • Who owns the recording - the simplest approach is to have shared/equal ownership
  • How it can be used – if it is equal ownership it is usual for each group to have unlimited use of the recording for their own purposes (CDs, online broadcast etc):
  • Acknowledgement of/credit to other group when used
  • Each group being responsible for obtaining relevant licenses when using recording for their own purposes
  • What happens to any income from use of recording by either group – simplest approach is for any income generated from use of the recording after the event to go solely to the group using the recording
  • Don’t forget you may need permission from any artists in the collaboration (particularly professional musicians) to (a) record, and (b) use the recording

9. Identifying and resolving problems

Most joint events go well without any major problems – but there is always a chance something could crop up that needs some attention. Having a statement to reference this is a good way to manage risk and allow you to identify and solve major problems before they develop.  Things to include:

  • The show must go on - a commitment to working together to resolve any issues that occur.
  • Why a group might raise a concern. For example; there is a serious threat to the concert going ahead, because:
    • they feel they will not be able to fulfil the agreement
    • they feel the other party is not fulfilling the agreement
    • events/circumstances beyond either groups control that mean the agreement cannot be fulfilled
  • How to raise a concern – e.g. by email through the liaison officers or chairs.
  • A timeframe for action once a concern is raised – e.g. call meeting on the project team within X days

10. Ending the agreement/cancelling the event

Hopefully by having a clause to identify and resolve problems you won’t ever get to the point of needing to end the agreement early. Having said that it is good idea to cover what would happen if the event had to be cancelled. Things to consider: 

  • Last resort - a commitment to working together and exploring all avenues before cancelling the event
  • How to formally end it – e.g. by email through the liaison officers or chairs.
  • You might also think about setting points at which the agreement can be ended – such as linking it to ticket sales. E.g.: 'If tickets sales are lower that X by Y number of days before the event, the concert will be cancelled and the agreement ended'.
  • How any losses incurred and money taken (e.g. refund for tickets sales) will be handled if the agreement is ended early:
    • If it is ended early due to a condition set out in the agreement (e.g. low ticket sales as above) or for reasons/circumstances beyond both groups control this should be fairly easy to detail – the most logical thing to do is to base it on the general principle of your financial agreement section.
    • The agreement should also cover the very rare occasions where cancellation occurs due to a dispute between the groups (e.g. one group feeling the other has not fulfilled their side of the agreement). It is hard to cover this in detail in an agreement - the best option might be to say where agreement cannot be reached the groups will look for mediation by an independent third party
  • Insurance – one of both groups might have event cancellation cover in place (included with Silver and Gold Making Music Packages). Any cover in place should be detailed in the agreement including how claims will be handled. Find out more in our detailed guidance.

11. Signatures

Finally, the agreement should be signed and dated by a representative of each group.

 

Get more tips on collaborating with other groups in our guidance or find out what other groups have learnt in our case study.

View guidance

View case study


We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.