Today we’re going to look at a contract to enter a new musical reality competition called Songland, which is being produced by NBC. It’s supposed to be similar to The Voice (even includes Adam Levine), but this time it’s for songwriters of all genres. You can check it all out here: http://songlandcasting.com.
To set the record straight, I am not a lawyer. I’m just a rapper with a music business degree who has dealt with a lot of contracts and was convinced by my family to audition for this show but bailed as soon as I read the fine print. If there’s anything I’m missing, please include it in the comments.
Also, I HATE REALITY COMPETITIONS. Why? Well they promise you fame and fortune for pretentious drama, but hey, let me ask you something, do you remember who placed 3rd in the 4th season of The Voice? What about who placed 6th in the last season of American Idol? Yeah, that’s what I thought, cause guess what. They thought they were special too!
Now you’re probably asking if it’s legal for me to post this contract, but anyone can access the same contract on their website by filling out their application and there’s no NDA clause about filing an application. The information hasn’t changed and I think it’s more important for people to know what they’re getting into by joining these kinds of competitions. Let’s get to it.
1. They’re Going to Sell Your Information
2. Well this is kind of standard procedure and isn’t really a red flag.
They want no conflict of interest or to come off as a bunch of nepotist, political agenda’d media moguls. No one connected to the show can join, and no one who’s going to run for a public office can use the show to bolster their candidacy like they paid NBC to use Songland as their platform, but they can still run a year later. I mean, what kind of songs would they perform? The Donald Trump theme song from the Freedom Girls? This makes sense but it gets weirder, sit tight.
3. A physical and psychological examination selected by the Producer
Okay…well maybe they want to make sure you’re not a psychopath being put on live television, and to make sure you’re not going to croak mid-season. This isn’t Dancing With The Stars, but clearly they don’t want to take a risk. What’s sketchy is that they don’t want to explain what requiremnts they’re looking for in these examinations. Is it “Terminal Cancer Patients Need Not Apply” or “Autisic Children Need Not Apply Despite How Talented You Are”? And to top off the sketchiness, it’s an examiner by the Producer. Not your family doctor, not your therapist, they want theirs. I don’t know man, that’s kind of weird to me.
The rest is standard lingo for image and likeness, which you have to agree to in order to get on television usually. Nothing new there. Let’s delve further in the rabbit hole.
4. You will make no money from your song being played on their television show
That’s right. You would make more money being a successful independent artist and having your music played on telelvision than to enter this reality show. NBC gets to keep all revenue made off of your song while they use it for their show and you make nothing from royalties or licenses. A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MEDIA COMPANY DOESN’T WANT TO GIVE YOU A DIME FOR PLAYING YOUR SONG ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. Cause exposure, right? Cause new fans right? Hey, remember that guy who placed 6th in the last season of American Idol? Yeah, exactly.
5. You not only sell your soul, but all privacy and information about yourself
It says right there, they can interview everyone in your family and your friends and your employers. Got a big secret? Too bad. You have no control over this. They want all documents too: motor vehicle records, background check, civil and military records, and even consumer reports. THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU BUY. You really want a media company this powerful to have all of that information about you? THEIR FREAKING EMPLOYEES DON’T EVEN HAVE TO DISCLOSE ALL OF THAT INFORMATION, WHY WOULD YOU? Some might say it’s to verify their life story and struggle and all that, but the contestants should have a say in how and what they disclose. What if they find something they don’t like about you in your past history that causes them to disregard your audition? I mean, what are the red flags for them? They should explain that!
6. You can’t sue them if they find out something damaging about you while investigating you
It says they’re relieved of all liability while investigating your life story. What if they ask the wrong questions to one of your friends or family members like, “Oh what do you think of him being transgender?” or “Hey so and so’s boss, what do you think of her being an ex-pornstar?” Not exactly the best way to come out on anything.
7. The psychological examination isn’t confidential.
Whatever can of worms you open while laying on that couch is going to be divulged to the producers of the show. What makes you think they won’t exploit the hell out of that? Got mommy or daddy issues? Oh you bet they’ll touch on it. Also, WHAT KIND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAM IS IT GOING TO BE? Hypnosis? It just says to the maximum extent of the law, but there are probably a lot of different psychological exams that aren’t in your comfort zone, and it’s a psychologist picked by the Producer. You think they won’t be able to get in your head? Steer you in a way you never thought? Bring out the best or worst in you? No thanks Illuminati.
8. You didn’t win? Too bad
Al Gore couldn’t do anything about it, why would you be able to?
9. If they make you look an a-hole or crazy by editing, you can’t do anything about it
Above that is all about divulging any information about the show while you’re on it. That’s the NDA section. Obviously if you tweet about who won the show, you’d ruin advertising money for NBC when people tune in to see who won, so yes, you can bet they’re going to sue you. If they manipulate all of the footage to make you look like a character you’re not though? Maybe make you look devious or crazy or unlikable? You can’t do anything about it or sue them for defamation. Good luck getting back into normal life and talking your way out of that for people.
10. Is it worth it?
Probably not. Most of the winners of these shows get screwed left and right and reach no level of fame afterwards or just have no industry experience to handle themselves after these shows. I mean, who knows what kind of contracts they’ll have you sign after the show! This is just the preliminary stages. Think about it, you just divulged sensitive information to a powerful media company that’s probably going to sell it, sacrificed tons of money while having your song played on television, and got hypnotized into thinking you’re the best at what you do by some Hollywood shrink only to have your dreams shatter into dust because NBC spat you out and said “Good luck! I heard Starbucks is hiring.”
If I’m missing something crucial here, please enlighten the people in the comments. Otherwise, arm yourself with knowledge and a good lawyer before you sign something like this.