The goal of a contract is to clearly set out an agreement between the parties to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Ideally, a contract should clearly set out (a) who it involves and the nature of their relationship, (b) what good or service is being provided, (c) how and when the good or service is to be provided, and (d) what happens if anything goes wrong. With these issues covered, a contract can ensure that an agreement between parties goes smoothly and according to plan. Additionally, if anything unexpected happens, or if the parties disagree, a contract can ensure that each party’s rights are protected and they are able to get any good or service (or other compensation) to which they are entitled.
For artists, having a signed contract can be the best way to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. Contracts provide a way to clearly set out the agreement between you and anyone you are working with, and so they are one an opportunity to make sure you get what you bargained for and are not taken advantage of. They can ensure that everyone involved is clear on the terms, and spell out what should happen if anything goes wrong (both so the people involved understand and agree, and to demonstrate the deal to an authority like a court if the need arises). Whenever there is an important situation (such as a sale or show), artists should always consider having a contract to make sure that everyone involved understands and agrees how everything is supposed to proceed.