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Undergraduate Student Life

Contracting Performers

Contracting Performers

Oral Agreements

When contacting any performers or their representative, never make any oral agreements. Again, express interest and indicate you will contact the necessary parties after consulting with your adviser. If you make an unauthorized commitment, it will be your commitment and Columbia will not bear any responsibility.

Written Contracts

Once your adviser has approved the booking, either the agency or Columbia University will draft a contract. A contract typically has two sections:

  • The main body of the contract: This generally specifies the performer’s fee, location, time, ticket price, and other relevant details of the booking.

  • The rider: This includes any specific requirements or requests of the performer, subject to negotiation and also to be reviewed by your adviser. This section also includes information regarding any technical needs, hospitality, transportation, and legal arrangements. Again, many of these factors are negotiable but must nevertheless be discussed with the performer’s agent prior to the rider being adjusted. Performers may view some of these terms as essential to the deal.

Columbia’s Terms

Columbia typically adds its own terms or an additional rider to a contract. These terms may include payment, event management clauses, cancellation conditions, and other concerns regarding insurance, safety, and security. Many such contracts include terms that Columbia will stipulate following an event review meeting or that involve the policies of the facility where the event is planned to be held.


The contract should be reviewed by you, your adviser, the performer, and their representatives or other Columbia staff members if necessary. It should then be adjusted as necessary and signed by all parties involved. The process of finalizing the contract which will involve obtaining approval from the University Purchasing Office, typically takes two week, followed by another three to four weeks to obtain a check. Once the contract is finalized, you must be prepared to meet all of its stated terms.

Paperwork Required for Payment

A performer’s contract may be used, but a University contract is also required. In addition, all contracts must include a completed W-9 (tax) form. The performer must then sign all of these documents. Please note that only original documents will be accepted by the Controller’s Office (no faxes or copies). The University requires 20 business days to process a check after all necessary paperwork, an E-form/Voucher, and for ABC groups, an Event Approval Form are completed.

Note: performers may not be paid in cash and Columbia will not reimburse any group who pays a performer in cash

Letters of Intent

Student Affairs no longer offers generic contracts that can be completed for student organization programs, events, or other services.  

Alternatively, Student Affairs offers either a Student Organization Letter of Intent for a Fee, a Non-Fee, or a Stipend Event.

Student organizations that wish to pay a fee to a speaker or performer should see their adviser to tailor a Student Organization Letter of Intent for a Fee or Stipend Event. If a speaker or performer presents you with his or her own version of a contract, bring it to the attention of your Student Affairs adviser.  

Any student organization wishing to bring in a speaker or performer that does not charge a fee or stipend must consult with their student affairs adviser about a Student Organizational Letter of Intent for a Non-Fee or Stipend Event. This document serves to layout the scope of the event and all logistical details and is a benefit to all parties. Again, consult with your adviser if you have any additional questions.  

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