Contestants on Adam Levine‘s new NBC songwriting competition show Songland may well use the show as a platform to reach success in the music industry. But they’ll have to deal with some truly awful contracts before they get there. According to entertainment lawyer Wallace E.J. Collins III, the contracts for the spinoff of The Voice state that performers will have to sign to appear on the show give NBC full ownership of every song they perform during the competition.
In a blog post on LinkedIn, Collins explained the terms of the Songland contracts.
“The NBC/Universal submission agreement for the “Songland” TV show states that NBC will own all rights to use and exploit all of your songs involved in the show including the songs you submit in the initial application. You would also purportedly be giving up your song even if you do not get selected to be on the Songland TV show (so whatever songs you use to audition would arguably become theirs to use and exploit even if they do not choose you). It also states that you waive your rights to claim any royalties from the songs whatsoever. On top of that, it states that you waive your right to sue NBC Songland (e.g., in case you didn’t read the contract upon signing).”
Collins went on to call the contract “one of the most onerous such television contest submission agreements” he had ever seen. He added that the agreement was “crippling for songwriters.” In the name of objectivity, he did offer that it was possible NBC’s lawyers were merely being as broad as possible with their language to protect their employers from any unforeseen contingencies.
According to The Wrap, NBC has changed the contract so that it no longer includes the songs that songwriters use to audition, refining the contract so that it includes only the contestants that are actually chosen to compete on the program. Still, signing over 100 percent of any songs performed on the show is a pretty raw deal, so maybe this will shift before the show comes to air.