Six Flags Artist Agreement: You Must Perform 5 Sets For Free

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Digital Music News has obtained an artist agreement offered to an artist for the Illinois location of the amusement park chain Six Flags: Great America for their “Live and Local” series.  Needless to say, it’s less than favorable to the artist.  Not only must the artist play AT LEAST 5 sets (“no riding rides between sets”), but they will not receive compensation, may not ask for tips and may not have their volume louder than 85db – however it doesn’t specify at what distance that will be measured.  But even measured 25 feet away, 85 db is pretty darn quiet.  Good luck having a drum kit, or an electric guitar amp.  A singer/songwriter, maybe. But that’s still SUPER quiet.

So, what is the artist getting in return for their 5 performances?  10 complimentary tickets.  And meal tickets – which must be PURCHASED for $13 a pop!  What a deal!  The artist does get to retain merch sales.  So, there’s that.  But playing so quietly, on equipment that the artist must provide, with no sound guy, on no stage with no lights will not make the artist look very attractive to potential merch customers.

Here’s the thing, Six Flags.  I get it, many festivals and venues like this don’t pay performers.  You’re probably equating this to street performing.  But street performers can make tips.  85db is WAY too quiet.  Put a rock band in there and measure what a reasonable volume would be.  Specify how far away you’re measuring.  Provide a stage, sound system and a professional sound engineer.  Don’t make full bands lug an entire PA system into the park.  That’s annoying.  Provide a table for merch.  Give the bands an attractive stage in a prominent area of the park with high foot traffic.  Provide ample chairs and a section to dance – depending on the kind of band.  Give them meal tickets, FOR FREE.  Promote the bands on Six Flags’ website – photos, website links, videos, music.  Put the bands names/images/bios in the Six Flags program.  Pay them SOMETHING – even if it’s just enough to cover gas and the hotel for that night.  If done right, bands COULD make a lot of money on tips and merch sales, get decent exposure, and this might be worth it.  But as this agreement stands now, this is a joke and quite insulting.

See full agreement below.

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Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

Image is by Beyond Neon on Flickr and used with the Creative Commons License

35 Responses

  1. Irving Mindreader

    Tone deaf relic policy left over from the days of ‘the talent’ being synonymous with ‘the help’.

    Sadly, the world is full of mediocre talent, all too eager to play any show anywhere, for scraps of validation.

    Six Flags has a market cap of almost $4.5B.

    They should pay something, at least equivalent to minimum wage, and feed you on premises.

    Hope your exposé finds its target.

    Reply
  2. Joey

    This is just terrible. But I wonder what would happen if musicians stopped performing for free? Maybe the fact that so many perform for free contributes to the problem? Maybe it’s time for all musicians to stand up and say that venues need to at least cover our expenses? That’s still performing for free. And seriously, how much would it take out of the six-flags pocket to do that for the “Live and local?”

    Reply
  3. flag THIS..

    For the fuking “privilege” of entertaining Six Flags guests as a contractor, the compensation is i can buy a fukin chilidog for $13???
    YET ANOTHER ESTABLISHMENT/BUSINESS I WON’T PATRONIZE (sheesh this list is getting long..)

    Reply
  4. Willis

    Who is forcing artists to agree to this? Nobody. If artists would grow a backbone and not perform under these circumstances, then places like Six Flags would have to realize they need to be more fair in order to attract talent.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    i would take those tickets and stand right outside the gate with a fucking megaphone reselling them, undercutting their price, with a shirt on that said go fuck yourself on the back…

    great america llc hahahahahaha what a dump, aint nothing great about that shit…

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      if i hear another peep in my lifetime about lack of performance, i might go postal, the working conditions are akin to slave labor, the treatment is pathetic, theres no career anymore to chase down, theres nothing good happening in the music business and i dont want to hear a peep about it from anyone ever again about what i should and shouldnt be doing…

      Reply
  6. Marv - Stolen Airplane

    We played there a couple years ago, so this really brought back memories. First, I’d say the experience was far different than what the agreement would lead you to believe.
    Once we were shown to our performance stage area (by a very sweet young girl who is a singer and really likes working with the bands and had nothing to do with the agreement above), we were basically on our own. No one was supervising us, monitoring our profanity/stages of nakedness, or really whether we performed or not.
    We didn’t have to buy $13 food. We got burgers at the employee diner and it was discounted (but not free as I recall). There were some terrible PA problems for the first two sets. We got to ride the Giant Drop a few times (because no one was there to tell us not to.)
    We definitely had some trepidation when we saw the weird agreement, but decided to check it out anyway. I’ve had worse Saturdays. We rocked some great all-ages sets and had a good time.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    allow everyone to remove all liability and they thus have zero reason to stick to their word…

    peoples word and action becomes nothing with a full removal of all liability…

    there’s no trusting these people any more…

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    not hard to see you are or want to be one of them, as you certainly dont want to educate anyone on how to protect themselves and stand up for themselves…

    pathetic, just another corporate number…

    Reply
  9. Anna Rodriguez

    All I can say is…wow i don’t care who these are I would never, ever go sing there!!! They can keep their flags and their public. The conditions are beyond insulting. I’m thankful I don’t live in the US!!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    look at the lovely food too, how many want to bet that the food you get looks nothing like the food they use to advertise to people?

    and yet i turn on the television and what do i see? an ad for truth in advertising and how it matters and how they are doing everything they can to combat it, and what comes after that? a f’n advertisement for some fast food or food joint with these glorious pictures of the most succulent food ever known to man, glossed and created by a professional whos job is to break the law, all to draw people in and generate revenues and profits, and of course the food you actually get looks like it was cooked by some 600 pound orca fat guy sweating in the dessert putting the hamburger under his butt while riding some donkey or something…

    Thats like a car dealership advertising a ferrari and then giving someone a pinto when they come in, i mean, how other then pure payoff are these corporations able to continually get away with their in everyones face law breaking??

    Meanwhile i cant get a slice of work or a decent paying gig anywhere or any help or anyone to help fight all the theft of my propert and defamation of my character and ruining of my reputation?

    I cant get anyone to put these people on trial and to pay for what they have done to me, against the law mind you, all because theyve paid people off or because they are more important to the bigger picture of society, thus making me worthless and unimportant???

    What a joke, be born rich or not at all i guess is the reality we are facing here…

    So what is there to live for then?? All in hopes i get a parking space and a sticker??

    Awesome, great team yall got there…

    pfft

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    im going to ruin my health and go into massive debt to chase down a job that doesnt exist because its only available to certain people, all so i can be the villain in their little charade and get pricked around by connie chungs and shit all the time, ruining my life for their ratings and shit??

    they can go fuck themselves and bring it on then, lets go then, show up and lets showdown, fucking d-bag useless fucks…

    they wanna play kindergarten schoolyard games then i guess ill have to show them how i play then…

    😉

    Reply
  12. Big Jim

    Sad. Not sure why there can’t be a little more respect for the artists. Looks like a way to attract unprepared talent at the least. 85 decibels is put in there by someone who doesn’t know what they are saying. You do get to sell merchandise, so you might could make it work with that. Just seems set up to leave a bad taste in the mouth of every artist that performs. And could they not at least include a salad on their heart attack food offerings!

    Reply
  13. Jeremy

    Being in a band that has played there, I have to say, we had a fun time, and were treated pretty well. There weren’t any db levels being checked, the set times were pretty loose and they brought us to the employee cafeteria to eat, where we actually got meals cheaper than they would have been if we left the park to grab something.
    They were strict on the no riding rides, explaining that since we didn’t purchase park tickets, and weren’t technically employees, any accidents would be a big liability. True, or not, I couldn’t tell you, but we managed to get a few rides in.
    granted, the agreement is a little overwhelming, but I think anybody looking into playing Six Flags is looking for exposure, and not necessarily a paycheck. We sold some shirts and CDs, many people passed by and listened, throughout the day, and our families got to have a free day at the park, while we played.
    I give Six Flags credit for putting it out there, before hand, and not pulling any sneaky moves. That is a lot more that can be said for the majority of Bookers and Promoters out there.

    Reply
    • Jeremy

      …additionally, what most fail to realize is that Six Flags doesn’t need performers. This agreement isn’t to play on the main attraction stage. These are spots to play on the various small stages, scattered throughout the park. You are playing for the chance to play on front of hundreds of people, throughout the day.
      If you are the type of person that plays, because it is what you love to do, it’s not a bad way to spend the day. If you are the type that won’t play unless there is a monetary guarantee involved, then it’s not the gig for you. Just like avoiding venues that don’t meet your particular standards, you do the same for this. I think it’s great that Six Flags even offers this exposure for artists, as I don’t know of many venues with a built in attendance this large that would allow any of us their stage.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Well then, i hear those corporate boys and girls talk how they love their job so much, and for anyone else that loves or even enjoys to do anything, they should all be doing it for free and then taking the money they normally get paid and putting it into other beneficial things, for the starving or needy or else just charitable entities like disease fighting and scientific studies to combat cancer and auto-immune diseases…

        Why pay anyone then? All those super stars always say how much they love their job, no need for thieving criminals like bieber to have lambos and mansions and millies in the bank, he and all of them should be doing it for free then…

        Same when i see some laborer somewhere working hard, why bother paying them too, they go home and mow their lawn, no need for them to be paid…

        Its a job, what you enjoy is filling that cavernous void in yourself by getting other peoples attention while they look up at you making you feel important and star like, feeding your ego… Its not that you love to play, if you just loved to play you would do it in your garage for free, its the attention and fame yall crave that spurn you to do it for free, fucking the professionals over time and time again…

        Pathetic…

        Reply
      • flag THIS

        “Jeremy”, you are part of the problem (else an actual six flag damage control poster..)
        When people accept what amounts to slave labor, you’re not only disrespecting yourself, but dragging down the rest of us. Giant corporations a) have money to pay, b) pay the minimum they can get away with. it is you and anyone else who accepts this crap that destroys the careers of others (and your own potential career).
        Have some fuking self-respect.

        Reply
  14. Anonymous

    i’d do it to perform 5 sets, then bring a volleyball net and volleyball, and film myself setting the volleyball 5 times, and maybe pay some Olympian to help, cause they are skint for money also, and enjoy them spiking it at anyone that looks at me/us the wrong way…

    😉

    Reply
    • Jeremy

      Are you a “Professional Musician” Anonymous?
      IMO any true professional Musician knows the difference between an exposure gig and a paycheck gig, and the fact that just getting up on stage doesn’t make you a professional Musician, entitled to make your living, solely off of music.
      Assuming that any artist willing to play for less than monetary gain is just doing it to satisfy their ego is extremely naive, and makes you appear to not have a clue about what goes into building a following.
      Knowing how to change your oil doesn’t make you a Mechanic.
      Musicians that are willing to play for free aren’t “fucking the professionals over”. The professionals are fucking the professionals over by pricing themselves over their “market value”, if you will.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Are you a “Professional Musician” Anonymous?
        IMO any true professional Musician knows the difference between an exposure gig and a paycheck gig, and the fact that just getting up on stage doesn’t make you a professional Musician, entitled to make your living, solely off of music.
        Assuming that any artist willing to play for less than monetary gain is just doing it to satisfy their ego is extremely naive, and makes you appear to not have a clue about what goes into building a following.
        Knowing how to change your oil doesn’t make you a Mechanic.
        Musicians that are willing to play for free aren’t “fucking the professionals over”. The professionals are fucking the professionals over by pricing themselves over their “market value”, if you will.

        Please see my apology above Jeremy, i should not have gone at you in such an attacking and bullying tone, it was not fair to you or anyone else and i sincerely apologize for the way i treated you, ultimately it is your choice and it is not my place to say anything about it…

        I would still do the Volleyball thing though, hopefully draw a huge crowd around, tease with half a song and epic performance, and then just pull the plug and leave…

        With music being easily stolen or free or else fractions of a penny and performance fees from most places being free for exposure, its not worth it in a business sense to take the time and energy, using personal gear which is owned at a cost, that depreciates, taking wear and tear, needing insurance, fuel and everything else, to maybe hopefully sell a few t-shirts that you had to press yourself with gear you’ve bought or else pay someone else to do, with cost of goods likely still on the books needing to be recouped before any profit is generated, all during a compromised set due to inability to properly setup and get everything right with a professional live mixer that you have to pay, all in hopes you can maybe convert a few random people into true fans that will support you…

        Now if you had a sponsor who could fly a banner behind you and at least cover the costs of such a venture, then it makes more sense, but again, its up to each person and business to decide for themselves what is a prudent play and not my right to be out there bullying and taking out the problems im dealing with on them, so im sorry for that…

        The return in a business sense for the specific scenario just isn’t worth it, that’s why i figured it would be for no other reason then attention and ego satiation, could be we are looking at the business of it in different ways and therefore that makes you correct that i made a poor assumption, and i apologize for that, what i said to you was unfair, and its not my place to tell you your business…

        i truly sincerely apologize for my actions and my words, i am not happy with myself and i hope you and others will forgive me, not that you are obligated to…

        Reply
  15. Opportunity Knocks!

    Sounds like a great deal! Lots of Famous Music Producers and Big Wigs are strolling through Six Flags on the lookout for new talent!

    Reply
  16. Bass Wreck

    I would rather have 4 root canals in a row than haul my gear into the middle of Six Flags on a blazing hot muggy summer day and play Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird to a bunch of exhausted parents and whining kids. The culinary options make it even less attractive.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Try using it as a springboard for original tunes. Might be worth it (theoretically).

      Reply
  17. DeezNizzuhh

    Ultimately, you can’t tell another man/group what to do with his/her/their business. So suck it up or move it along. Who the hell wants to discover their beloved music at Six Flags anyway?? That’s lame anyway.

    Reply
  18. dean Caruso

    not that I’ve been to Six Flags in a long time but because of that we go again what jerks what the can’t afford to pay the bands ridiculous

    Reply
  19. Dave

    I know people who aren’t ‘professional musicians’, aren’t attempting to make it their career, and who would probably do something like this every once in a while because they do love performing and you never know who may pick up one your cards. These people do also play in bars for pay, but it’s nothing compared to what they make in their actual career jobs. Some of those paying gigs pay well, some pay damned little, but if the venue, its staff, and the crowd are good fun, they keep coming back because it’s a chance to do something they love.

    Reply
  20. freddy fingers

    just another trying to cash in on the the misfortune of anyone who still calls themselves a musician. bottom feeders…we all need to stop doing these gigs! have to get back to my 3rd set now, BTW this chili dog sucks, so does six flags.

    Reply
  21. Don K

    This is bs. Musicians need to be paid for entertaining people. Especially from a place that makes lots of money. These artist will draw crowds if they are good. And no one who plays for free are gonna be good. Just a kid starting off.Learning an instrument is not easy. So pay these people. $100 ea if you want people who go see these musicians to enjoy themselves

    Reply
  22. Jaxon

    Screw ‘em. Don’t play! Let them turn on a record player or radio. What you have here is some numb-nut MBA that’s tone deaf and dances like a 10 year old dictating policy. Freeze them out! Talent ALWAYS overcomes!

    Reply
  23. Ex Musician

    No one should ever sign this agreement. It is laughable. Why would anyone want to be insulted like this.

    Also, no one should ever agree to a clause like this indemnification:

    13. During the term of this agreement, ARTIST HEREBY AGREES TO INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS SIX FLAGS, ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS AND EMPLOYEES FROM
    AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL LIABILITIES, CLAIMS, DAMAGES, LOSSES, COSTS AND EXPENSES FOR ALL PERSONAL INJURIES, INCLUDING DEATH, TO PERSONS, AND
    DAMAGE TO ANY PROPERTY CAUSED BY THE ACTS OR OMISSIONS OF CONSULTANT.

    Wow, so does this mean that if anything happens and someone sues Six Flags, the performer is totally liable?

    It would be much easier and more fun to play free in a park, a children’s hospital, a backyard BBQ or in a basement or garage.

    Reply
  24. Ron

    But at least the menu options include a healthy set of vegetarian options.

    Reply

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