Thursday, May 10, 2007

American Idol is looking for Santa Fe!

From Fox:
"The Search for the next Great American Band"

May 9, 2007

New Reality Series from the Producers of American Idol Searches for the Ultimate Musical Group!

The producers behind mega-hit phenomenon American Idol take the musical reality genre to a whole new level when they embark on a quest to find the next American band sensation that will take the nation by storm. THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND (working title) will scour the country, seeking musical groups of all ages, styles and genres, with hundreds of bands auditioning for a shot at stardom.

After the auditions, judges will narrow down hopefuls from all walks of musical life – young and old, family and friends, garage bands and weekend warriors – to 10 semi-finalists who will perform in front of a live studio audience. Viewers will then get a chance to vote for their favorite bands via telephone and text messaging and determine who stays in the competition.

Each week, the bands will be challenged with varied musical themes, jazzing up each of the performance shows as their skills in a wide spectrum of musical styles are put to the test along with their personal and professional relationships.

Finally, in a not-to-be-missed showdown, the final three bands will compete to secure a recording contract. If you think American Idol is intense, wait until you see what a band must go through for its shot at fame.

Click here to find out more about eligibility, submission rules and to print the application form. (PDF files)

Hey! We got your Great American Band right here. Look no further!

All we gotta do is submit a live performance video.

OK, hmmm...well, let's look at the fine print (italics/bold/red emphases below are all mine).

Section 2 of the application:

"...As between me and Producer, Producer exclusively own [sic] all right, title, and interest (including, without limitation, all copyrights) in and to any video that I have provided in connection with my Participant Application and any other materials that I have provided or may provide in connection with the Program (the “Materials”) including, without limitation, the right to edit, alter or modify the Materials and to use all or part of the Materials and my Likeness in any and all media now known or hereafter devised in any and all versions throughout the universe, in perpetuity. I further agree that Producer may use my Likeness and the Materials in connection with any promotion, publicity, marketing and/or advertisement for the Program. I represent and warrant to Producer that I am the author and owner under copyright of all rights in and to the Materials I provide to Producer hereunder..."

4. "I grant the rights hereunder whether or not I am selected to participate in the Program in any manner whatsoever..."

They effectively own the video once you submit it as required simply as an applicant -- ("including, without limitation, all copyrights") -- whether you ever go beyond "applicant" status or not. Now, IANAL (and I've not stayed at Holiday Inn Express recently), but this begs an open question to me as to the copyright of the "intellectual property" material on the video in addition to the mechanical reproduction itself (the "...without limitation..." thingy). Prudence with respect to that issue says give 'em "cover tunes only." Yeah it refers to "in and to video," but you cannot be too careful.

This is a sloppy legal document. Beyond the grammatical hiccups, I note that it goes from clause 2 directly to clause 4. WTF?

Section 4:

You also agree to "be available to participate, for no additional consideration, as, when and where Producer and/or Fox may require in connection with publicity, interviews and similar matters (for example, to appear on news shows, talk shows and other programs), and to make other appearances as required by Producer and/or Fox in connection with the Program and/or in connection with other programs, and/or sponsors, when and where designated by Producer and/or Fox in its/their discretion..."

All on your dime.

Section 6: Gag order:

"I agree to treat all information and material I receive or acquire as part of my participation in the participant selection process for the Program as strictly confidential and to not disclose any such information to any third party..."

Section 7:

Complete waiver of any rights to sue them in the event you feel [bleeped] over in the wake of participation (e.g., misrepresentation of benefits, misappropriation of your copyrights, or whatever).

This is also swell...

"Applications will only be considered if they are complete. Complete applications will consist of the following:

Completed Participant Application Forms and signed Consent and Releases for each band member. DVD or VHS recording labeled clearly with band name, contact name, address and phone on face and spine of the tape.

Identification - Attach a copy of each band member’s driver's license and at least one (1) of the following to each Application: Social Security card, passport or birth certificate."

Wow. (Oh, and BTW, they're gonna do a background investigation on everybody in the band, and you indemnify them completely in the event they compile and disseminate any false/libelous BS about you. Kinda like that company I cited in an earlier post, the one that blew me off 'cause I wouldn't sign their POS investigation waiver).

Oh, this is priceless as well:


Trust Us. We Have Your Best Interests at Heart. Any ad hoc changes we make will be for your own good.

Other errata: Section 2, "...any exploitation of my name, voice, likeness and biographical information, as the same may be edited, cut, rearranged, adapted, dubbed or otherwise revised, if applicable by Producer, will not entitle me to receive any wages, benefits, fees, compensation or other consideration whatsoever..."

OK, so, the value proposition to me here is, uh, what?

Section 8: "I acknowledge that in the event of a breach of this agreement by Releasees or any third party, the damage, if any, caused me will not be irreparable or otherwise sufficient to entitle me to seek injunctive or other equitable relief..."

So, they're proffering this "agreement," the terms of which they need not even abide, without adverse consequence to them. Lovely.

How one-sided do things have to get? Well, obviously, as far as the market and the courts will permit. On the latter point, Suits and their attorneys can throw whatever kind of insult-your-intelligence, overreaching crap they want into a contract document, but, ultimately, it's up to the courts to decide what is binding and what isn't, in the event of disputes. As a practical matter, however, once you sign, you are behind the eight ball. Redress, whether negotiated/arbitrated or litigated, is expensive. For the most part, prohibitively so for the artist. Caveat emptor.


As first published in several years ago (Sept 18, 2002):

"Slaves of celebrity"

"Kelly Clarkson has a golden future, right? Maybe so. But the "American Idol" winner and her fellow finalists had to sign virtually their entire careers away to the show's producers for one shot at stardom."

Some excerpts:

“…So Clarkson is on top of the world with a record deal, management contract, public performances and nothing but blue skies ahead, right? Perhaps. But let's have a look at some of the more exciting fine print in the "American Idol" contestant contract, which was posted by Los Angeles music attorney Gary Fine.

Fine came into possession of the contract when the mother of a young man who was interested in being on the show brought it in for his perusal. The contract had been presented on a "take it or leave it" basis and the man had been given a couple of hours to make a decision. Fine told him not to sign.

"1. I hereby consent to Producer's filming, taping and/or recording of me for use in and in connection with the Series ... I acknowledge and agree that Producer will be the sole and exclusive owner of all rights and material filmed, taped, and/or recorded pursuant to this Agreement.

"... I hereby grant to Producer the unconditional right throughout the universe in perpetuity to use, simulate or portray (and to authorize others to do so) or to refrain from using, simulating or portraying, my name, likeness (whether photographic or otherwise), voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations and events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur, including without limitation the right to use, or to authorize others to use any of the foregoing in or in connection with the Series ...

"... I understand that, in and in connection with the Series, I may reveal and/or relate, and other parties ... may reveal and/or relate information about me of a personal, private, intimate, surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, that may be factual and/or fictional."

In other words, the producers can record any and all behavior of the contestant "in and in connection with the series" and use the contestant's likeness, voice and any or all biographical material, whether true or false, any way they want to. The producers own all this material forever and "throughout the universe."

"2. Confidentiality/Disclosures: Any and all information disclosed to or obtained by me concerning or relating to the Series, the contestants, the events contained in the Series, the outcome of the Series and/or contest, Producer, the Network and the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall be strictly confidential.

" ... I acknowledge that any disclosure of such information will constitute a material breach of this Agreement and will cause Producer and the Network substantial and irreparable Injury and will cause substantial damages in excess of Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000), entitling Producer (and/or the Network, as a third party beneficiary of this provision) to, among other things: (a) injunctive or other equitable relief, without posting any bond, to prevent and/or cure any breach or threatened breach of this paragraph by me; (b) recovery or disgorgement of the monies and other consideration, if any, I received in connection with such disclosure; (c) forfeiture of any and all cash and prizes that I may have been entitled to for participating in the Series; and (d) recovery of the Producer's and/or the Network's damages, including but not limited to, lost profits and other consequential damages, to the extent permitted by law, and attorneys' fees and court costs incurred to enforce this paragraph."

Absolutely all information regarding the show and this contract is confidential. If the contestant breaches this confidentiality it will cause damages assumed to be in excess of $5 million. The producers can recover such damages, anything gained by the contestant from such a disclosure, the contestant's winnings from the show and any actual additional damages caused by the disclosure.

"5. Future Agreements: Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Section C, I understand and agree that in the event I am one of the final ten (10) contestants in the Competition, I will be required to enter into the following agreements: (a) an agreement with 19 Recordings Ltd. (or an affiliated company) for my exclusive services as a recording artist; (b) an agreement with 19 Merchandising Ltd. for the use of my name, likeness biography in connection with advertising, endorsement, merchandising and sponsorship; and (c) an agreement with 19 Management Ltd. for the management of my career as an artist. I understand and agree that, unless I am the individual selected as the winner of the Competition, such agreements shall become fully effective only at the election of 19 Recordings Ltd., 19 Merchandising Ltd. and/or 19 Management Ltd."

Each of the 10 finalists was required to enter into agreements exclusively with 19 Recordings as recording artist; 19 Merchandising for advertising, endorsements, sponsorships and merchandising; and 19 Management for the management of his or her career. All this was entirely at the option of the 19 companies, save for the winner, who was guaranteed this result.

"6. 'World Idol': I acknowledge and agree that, should I win the Competition and subject to my availability at the time of the Producer's request, I shall participate in a 'World Idol' program where winners/contestants from the 'Pop Idol' and/or 'American Idol' competition in other countries or other versions of the Series shall compete against each other and, provided that I appear on the 'World Idol' program, I agree to accept a total fee of One Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($1,400.00) in full and final consideration for my appearance in such program and the grant of all rights in relation thereto on the same terms and conditions set out hereunder."

…Basically, if I win "American Idol," I promise to appear on the "World Idol" show -- for a total fee of $1,400! All the provisions of this contract will apply to that show as well.

Diff'rent Day, Same Shit.

I'd like to get a competent legal opinion on this whole dealie. Like I said, IANAL, but neither am I naive and/or stupid.


Well, I been surfin' around tryin' to find out how well prior American Idol winners have been doing. Here are some data from

Kelly Clarkson
  • Kelly's first single, "A Moment Like This," set a record when it went from number 52 to number one on the Billboard singles chart in one week.
  • Kelly Clarkson's first album, Thankful, debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart, selling 297,000 copies in its first week. It was certified double platinum.
  • Kelly recorded songs for the soundtracks of movies including Love Actually.
  • Her second album, Breakaway, went five times platinum by 2006. The album boasted hit singles including "Since You've Been Gone," and "Breakaway."
  • Kelly won countless awards, including Grammy awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album.
  • Kelly's videos have been well-received on MTV, often reaching number one on the network's TRL video countdown.
Ruben Studdard
  • Ruben's first album, Soulful, debut at number one on the Billboard album chart, selling 400,000 copies.
  • The album's first single, "Sorry for 2004," peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
  • When the album hit stores, critics were buzzing about the fact that Clay Aiken, the singer Ruben beat on American Idol, was selling more records than the Velvet Teddy Bear.
  • Ruben was nominated for his first Grammy in 2003, for his vocal performance of the song "Superstar."
  • Ruben released a Gospel album in 2004. It sold 96,000 copies in its first week. That number was good enough to send it to number one on the Gospel charts.
  • According to his website, Ruben has sold more than 2 million albums in the United States.
  • Ruben released the R&B album The Return is Fall, 2006. That album peaked at number 8 on the Billboard album chart.
  • Fantasia's first single "I Believe" debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. According to Billboard, she was the first new artist in history to debut a single at number one.
  • Fantasia's first album, Free Yourself, peaked at number three on The Billboard Charts. The album included singles such as Baby Mama, which only made it number 60 on the Hot 100 singles chart.
  • In 2005, Fantasia released the book, Life Is Not a Fairytale, which revealed Fantasia's struggles as a single teen mother and high school dropout. She also revealed that she was functional illiterate.
  • In 2006, Fantasia starred in a TV movie based on Life Is Not a Fairytale.
  • Fantasia released her second, self-titled album in December, 2006. It received praise from critics, but debuted at number 19 on the Billboard album chart.
Carrie Underwood
  • Carrie's first song, "Inside Your Heaven," debuted as the best-selling song in the country. 170,000 copies were sold during the single's first week in stores.
  • Carrie's first album, which included the singles "Jesus Take The Wheel" and "Some Hearts," has gone five times platinum.
  • Carrie landed advertising deals with Hershey's and Sketchers after winning on Idol.
  • Carrie won the best female vocalist award at the 2006 CMA Awards, beating artists including Faith Hill.
  • Her other honors include winning the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at the 2006 American Music Awards.
Taylor Hicks
  • Since winning American Idol, Taylor has made countless appearances around the country and on popular TV shows.
  • People magazine named Taylor America's Most Eligible Bachelor in 2006.
  • Meanwhile, Taylor's American Idol single "Do I Make You Proud" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
  • But "Takin' It To The Streets," which would be the first single from his debut album, peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
  • Despite the poor sales of his first single, Taylor's self-titled album debut at number two on The Billboard 200 album chart, selling 298,000 copies. But by it's fourth week on the charts, the album had dropped to number 47.
  • Fans took notice that Chris Daughtry, who finished fifth on American Idol, was outselling Taylor.
  • Taylor was set to kick off a nationwide tour in Winter, 2007.
"Impressive," yeah, all of it. But, nothing about how much money they've each netted -- and how much money they've made for the Suits, both in absolute and relative percentage terms. If your goal is simply to be a "star" in order to stroke your vanity, that's fine, I guess. But, what're you gonna have in the bank once your time in the limelight is over?