Wanna be famous? Think again!

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Woodchuck, May 28, 2004.

  1. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    This is a copy of the contract for the American Idol winner. Read it and cringe.

    The phenomenon that is "American Idol" began three years ago in the U.K. as "Pop Idol," conceived and produced by 19 in association with Fremantle Media. "Pop Idol" and "American Idol" followed the same formula: mass auditions of over 10,000 hopefuls pared down to 50 contestants, then winnowed down to a final pair by viewers voting over the phone. On-air judges -- in the U.K., Cowell was joined by Nicki Chapman, Pete Waterman and Dr. Fox; in the U.S. it was Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson -- critiqued the performances and became personalities in their own right.

    In the February "Pop Idol" finale between Gareth Gates and Will Young, almost 9 million people voted, and Young, a 23-year-old student from Hungerford, was anointed as Britain's newest superstar. "American Idol's" Sept. 4 finale, matching Clarkson against the preternaturally cheerful Justin Guarini, drew 22.5 million viewers and delivered Fox's highest rated nonsports night ever among young adults.

    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 on the "Pho" e-mail group 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.

    Next page | Clarkson must appear on the show "World Idol" -- for a total fee of $1,400
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  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    "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."

    This one's amazing. 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.
    It's clear that, in the words of Gary Fine, this is a "particularly aggressive" contract. But isn't this par for the course? Isn't this the way the business works?

    That argument can certainly be made, although you won't hear it from Fox, 19's home office in England or 19's P.R. representatives in the U.S., none of whom responded to numerous inquiries regarding the "Idol" contestant contract. Bobby Poe, who recently became the manager for Jessica Garlick, a finalist on the U.K.'s "Pop Idol" (after 19 declined its option), explains how the show helped launch his client's career.

    "The attention Jessica got on 'Pop Idol' led to her being chosen as the U.K.'s entry in the Eurovision competition last spring," he says. It also led to Garlick's single on Columbia/Sony, which went to No. 13 on the U.K. charts -- not bad for a previously unknown 21-year-old from Wales. "I would say, in this specific case, the massive exposure far outweighs the initial, let's say, unbalanced terms of the contract," Poe concludes.

    If exposure is the be-all and end-all, Poe is undoubtedly right. But what if Clarkson, Garlick, Guarini or any of these other young artists have other goals, including some input into the direction of their careers?

    "The artist-manager relationship is the most important one in connection with the artist's career," says Gary Fine. "The artist needs someone fighting for them with regard to certain career decisions. The cozy relationship between 19 Management Ltd. and 19 Recordings Ltd. would create serious conflicts, and almost certainly remove any real ability for 19 Management to support tough decisions on behalf of their artists if the sister record company is opposed to them.

    "Name and likeness provisions, merchandising and product endorsements are very sensitive issues for artists," Fine goes on. "The problem here is exacerbated because the artist is under an agreement with 19 Merchandising in addition to 19 Recordings and 19 Management. Given what a brilliant marketing guy Simon is, and the fact that his track record would indicate that money is his primary interest, I would be uncomfortable giving this marketer the leeway he is entitled to under these provisions."

    Fine's fellow L.A. music attorney Kenneth Freundlich, who was quoted above, is also highly critical of the contract and its ramifications. He notes that the contract omits a routine provision: the advice to consult your own lawyer or forever waive your right to complain later that you didn't. "Perhaps this was left out so as not to suggest to a contestant something she might not otherwise have thought of," he says. He wonders whether the absence of this provision might make the "American Idol" contract ultimately unenforceable.

    "There is a place for a show like this to reap benefit from its winners," Freundlich continues. "But the artist's career should be pure free agency from the start. These kids, like most artists, will get one shot at it. It should be the best shot that their independent representatives can find and negotiate, not one thrust at them by the show."

    Simon Fuller and company have already won big, earning a rumored $1 million per episode from Fox, along with additional money from the show's telephone-voting system and various sponsorship deals. A compilation album featuring the 10 "American Idol" finalists will be released next month, with DVD and videocassette to follow. A Fox special from Las Vegas is set for broadcast Sept. 23, while a 28-city tour for the finalists will kick off Oct. 8 in San Diego.

    The Financial Times has reported that Clarkson and Guarini will appear in a film written by Kim Fuller, who happens to be Simon's brother. "Before Your Love," Clarkson's first single, was co-written by Cathy Dennis, a songwriter managed by -- you guessed it -- Simon Fuller.
  3. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    There's also a provision in the management contract that entitles the managers, which are part of the American Idol parent company, 25 - 50% of the winner's earnings, as opposed to the standard 15 - 20%. :eyebrow:
  4. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Just so everyone knows my standing: I despise reality TV.

    I, regardless, never want to be famous, because as seen above, everyone and their mother want to swindle you. Also, I'd like a little "privacy" in public.

    I only want to be pseudo famous... hence being a bassist :p
  5. I have still managed to avoid seeing that show.

    I live for TV. Reality TV is the worst. Except if it has to do with naked hot cheerleaders in their bedrooms and showers and stuff.. :D
  6. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    how would you know they were cheerleeders if they were naked? :meh:
  7. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Or pudding wrestling midgets! If you go to www.......uh, heh heh....boy, this is awkward. Bye!
  8. Pom poms...obviously... :scowl: :p

  9. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    i'm so bloody stupid sometimes :(
  10. No, you just haven't spent enough time thinking about naked cheerleaders... :rollno:

  11. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    Cheerleaders are never without there pom-poms! Of course. Nor their nauseatingly peppy attitude.

    [in relation w/ the thread]
    As they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Indeed, that lunch often comes with hidden costs and could be hazardous to your health and well-being.

    The whole obsession with fame and stardom is very disturbing I think, it seems that so many people are striving to be loved and admired by millions. Its like we're a nation of attention-starved drama queens and louts (not just this generation either...though it's become more out of control in the recent years, the baby-boomer and Gen X generations both seem to share this 'fame obsession') all this is probably symptomatic of a more serious problem.

    In conclusion, reality TV sucks, and I don't know how people can watch it. I've tried...and I started feeling physically ill.
  12. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    You've got my vote on that too!

  13. poor ruben will have to leave the universe if he wants any privacy.

    i'd like to see the contract for WB superstar, cause i'll bet dollars to donuts not one of those fools even skimmed it.
  14. Why worry about contracts, I'm gonna be FAY-MOUSSE!!!
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I've had a small amount of fame, and let me tell you, it sucks. Even the tiny bit I recieved in Dead Hand System was really lame with having to deal with. Perhaps it was due to the fact that we got alot of "fans" from NIN, due to the close connection, and everybody knows that NIN has one of the worst fanbases out there. I don't want to be famous, but I would like my music to be known by many. I refuse to put a picture of myself on my website; trust me, I'd never sell records with my face anyway.

    I love the "in the universe" clause. For those who don't know, that's standard verbage in record contracts. Record companies are actually afraid that aliens from another galaxy will come down and offer you a bunch of money to go on an intergalactic tour, and the record execs wouldn't make any money off of you. :rollno:
  16. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA

    der, uh......damn. Everybody laugh and patronize me.

    Edit: I just asked you to "laugh me". I have no idea what that means.
  17. Barstar= sure, that I can deal with

    Supastar= No thanks.

    Although it was cool, around 10 years ago I was out on a first date with this girl and got recognized twice as the guy from my band. That worked out in my favor :D :D
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    and yet they still turn thousands of folks away. :rollno:
  19. vbass


    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    Eh, I don't want to be famous. I just want to not have to WORK anymore, and just play music alllll day. If I had the opportunity to sign a contract to make that happen, I would prolly do so.
  20. Gary Fine

    Gary Fine

    Feb 12, 2004
    Let me add a few follow-up points:

    1. The contract you are referring to, and the one I was commenting on, is the "Contestant Contract" that anyone appearing on the show must sign before appearing on it. The "Recording Agreement" that the winner signs is different and a much more heavily negotiated document. I have not seen an actual copy of the Recording Agreement that the winner signs, but it's my understanding that the terms and conditions are fairly consistent with a major label recording agreement. I'm not sure if the management and merchandising agreements are similarly revised to reflect terms more consistent with industry standards. That's not to say those are particularly reasonable either, but it does seem the conditions for the winners are improved over what they sign originally.

    2. The comments I made (and you quoted) about the Contestant Contract were made during the first season and prior to the show achieving any real success. Assuming the Contestant Contract is still the same, and I believe it is, it is still a particularly aggressive contract, but now that the show has proven to be a tremendous success, it at least brings some serious weight to the bargaining table (i.e., as opposed to a show with no track record featuring three individuals who, perhaps, weren’t in their “prime” in the music industry).

    3. Whether I’d now recommend to a client whether to sign the contract depends, in part, on what the client is looking for. If the client is an artist that is interested in control over the artistic direction of their career, then the answer is no. Historically, what Simon (Fuller) has done well, and continues to do well, is to mass market music. That is not a qualitative statement, but rather an observation that Simon is behind music which is designed for, and tends to appeal to, the masses. Therefore, if I had an artist whose music was quirky and might take time to develop, then Simon's organization is not the one I would recommend getting involved with. On the other hand, if I have a client whose primary interest is fame and fortune, then Simon's organization is certainly worth considering.

    4. Another key factor to consider when considering whether to sign would be knowing what options were available to my client at the time they had the option to appear on American Idol. If the artist was receiving bona fide interest from a major label or a qualified indie, then I would advise against participation in the show.

    5. IMO, it's way too early in the show's history to know what the long-term benefits are of being an "American Idol."

    6. As mentioned earlier, Fuller is taking a piece of various revenue streams (e.g., merchandising, publishing, etc.) that most major labels typically do not take a piece of when signing a new artist. However, Fuller’s approach represents what many think will be a trend. The argument is that the record company has invested considerable time and money (albeit much of the money is recoupable from the artist’s royalties) to create the artist's “brand.” Yet, the only real source of income that the record company has traditionally received from the "brand" it helped create is the sale of CDs. Revenue from touring, merchandising, etc. is not usually shared with the record company. However, with CD sales plummeting, many in the industry are suggesting that the major labels may start asking for pieces of the artist's other revenue streams.