Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Idol Contract



I've never been a big fan of American Idol. I've seen a show here and there but usually wind up bored. I stumbled into the middle of season five and was blown away by Taylor Hicks. I have cast only one vote ever in connection with the show, and it was for Hicks the night he sang "Trouble". Gorgeous.

Despite his obvious talent, he was labeled the underdog but went on to win the whole damned thing in the end.

Now that I'm a fan of TH, I've been curious about that American Idol contract. I had no clue what a closely guarded secret that sucker is. But I did find some info from 2002 that gives me an idea of how tight those AI reins are on the winner.

The following are excerpts from: http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2002/09/18/idol_contract/index.html:

Slaves of Celebrity
Sep 18, 2002
by Eric Olsen

"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.

Clarkson and the other finalists signed an unusually onerous contract with 19 Group, the production company headed by British pop entrepreneur Simon Fuller. These young performers are wrapped up for recording, management and merchandising under the most restrictive terms imaginable: Their careers are literally not their own.

Since 19 and Fox have declined to respond to questions about their contract with Clarkson and the other finalists, or the extent to which they control their careers, perhaps the best place to look is the public record.

According to the version of the contract one entertainment lawyer posted to the Internet, Fuller and his company own the names, likenesses, voices and personal histories of the 'Idol' finalists, 'in or in connection with' the show, forever. 19 Group can use that material however it wants, even if it's false, embarrassing or damaging.

If contestants reveal anything to anyone about the workings of the show or the contract they signed, they're liable for damages 'in excess of $5 million.'

Kenneth Freundlich, a prominent Los Angeles entertainment lawyer who has examined the 14-page contract that was presumably signed by all the 'American Idol' contestants, says, that Clarkson and her fellow finalists are 'surrounded by what appears to be the worst rendition of the industry, after being voted on by a public with no knowledge of the story within the story.' How many of the millions of viewers who voted for Clarkson or any other contestant, he wonders, would willingly have signed their own sons and daughters up for such a career of music-industry servitude?"



So it's rumored that Hicks wasn't dropped by the label, rather he was able to get out of his contract, opting for more creative freedom.

I give him a lot of credit for standing up for musical integrity. I've said before that being unwilling to just shut up and do as you're told will make you an unpopular guy. But it makes me want to support his career even more. He's fighting to create music that MEANS something, that's about more than money.

Watch for his next CD and give the guy a chance. It seems to me the fight for the underdog isn't over yet.

67 comments:

AH said...

Thanks for finding that. Had seen something like it - or maybe it was this - when was looking for info on the show in 2006 but hadn't saved it. It's likely there have been changes since 2002 ( didn't Clarkson & Aiken win lawsuits to get out of their contracts? would presumably lead to some revisions) but one would suspect the core issue of control is still there. Add this to things like statements by Lythgoe and others illustrating how little the individuals matter and the incredible power the 19 group has acquired - - the total picture is frightening. "19" is a perfect example of corporate greed run amok.

Soul Reporter said...

Really, caryl, thanks for finding this. Enlightening, for sure. We always knew Taylor was a smart guy and unwilling to sell himself short. He wore the Pay the Devil hat for a reason.

Celebrityblondebabe said...

Love your blog...I have to visit from time to time...This is something I had saved from season one...understand they have changed...no telling how much worse they are now, especially after Taylor!!! SO glad that Taylor is out from under TPTB!!!
_________________________________
"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 manipulate your image any way they want to, and can even lie about you if they so choose! Also, Salon notes that they own 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."

So, you talk, you owe $5 million plus everything you got from being on the show, plus they sue you. No wonder nobody talks, and no wonder Clay Aiken spent big bucks on a lawyer to get him out of this.

"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."

Kenzie said...

Freedom!! I bet Taylor is singing a high pitch now!

Them assholes. Ive never really trusted American Idol, I remember hearing everyone argue about Kelley in the first season. How her first album was fake.

As for Taylor. It's his time to shine. And have those losers regret every making that contract in the first place. :)

Kenzie said...

OH I forgot to add:

Caryl, you're a genius.

tishlp said...

Wow, that's very scary. No wonder TH tried to organize the contestants before signing the contract. I hope he's completely out from under the 19E umbrella.

TaylorMade4America said...

Taylor was the best American Idol ever had or will have on the show.

He has an incredible style, his voice is amazing, his talents are supreme, his looks are HOT, and best of all, his heart.

A genuine soulman with a heart of gold.

NESP

chirhart said...

AMEN !!!
Taylor's great!

Valerie said...

wow. I knew it was bad but I never knew quite *how* bad. Doubly glad he got himself out of it all now. He deserves much better than that, they ALL do.

Smiley said...

Caryl,
I appreciate your candor on this whole Idol thing. The 2009 auditions are actually this coming Thursday, and I was considering going to get the exposure out of the show that I could. When I read simply the release form, it didn't hold true to me. So, here I am, looking for things others have found and made known about this Company and it's contracts.

I am not in agreement with even their release form(s), much less the semi-finalist/winner's contracts, based on the little information I can glean.

Who needs an extra lawsuit to get out of a contract that even other lawyers in the business think is poor sportsmanship? Not all business is so cutthroat and dog-eat-dog! Most artists I know pore over anything they need to sign, just to make sure that they're not screwed, and amongst those contracts you can usually find good ones that benefit him and the company it's with. The idea is to have EXCHANGE between yourself and the company, so you all win.

Great people, especially artists, are always targets for suppression, wouldn't you say?

You know, if one really wanted to HANDLE the situation, one would need to find WHO wrote the contract this way. Was it Simon? Or was this his lawyer's idea, or someone else in the company? Handle THAT person and you'd probably help a hell of a lot of people.

In my opinion, most of us are good at heart, and only tiny percentage of people would knowingly and wittingly write someone into such a situation.

I don't know about you, but I'm not particularly interested in someone "finding out about someone" by means of his own illustrative imagination.

"What's true for you is true for you, and when you lose that, you've lost everything."

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Thanks!!! I've been trying to find information on the contract everywhere and like you said its impossible. I was going to try out for american idol next year but now it just seems stupid to sign my life away like that. I love singing and if its controlled by someone else then its not my own. Again thanks for the information.

Signed,
Luvs 2 Sing

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caryl said...

I had to delete a bunch of spam in the comments!!

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