Hey Bob, despite being an avid reader of your news letter, I still tried out for the Voice. And I got through. And they wanted me to come to L.A. for the semi-finals. And they wanted me to sign a 7 year slave contract. Here is the outline of the contract from my lawyer. If you are interested:
The Voice agreements have all the usual reality show terms, as in, they can lie to you, disparage you, etc., say and do whatever they want, and you can’t sue them for any reason. These are pretty typical. They also have a talent hold on every contestant that makes it to the show, they can use them for any reality show within a year from the conclusion of The Voice, if they exercise the option. They only have to pay $9,000 to exercise that option.
The real kicker is that they have the right to option all contestants to get a record deal. The following are the terms:
The deal itself contains multiple options for deals with Universal Republic records:
1. Recording Option – Maximum $50,000 advance, less the further down you place in the show and also depending on whether they want to release an album, EP, or single (the lowest is $10,000). The winner of the show is guaranteed that their album will come out. Anyone else that they option has no such guarantee (just one digital single guaranteed). It will be a 5 album deal. The royalty for this deal is 12%, obviously low. The terms for the next 4 albums are not specified (so it looks like there is some room for negotiation). They will pay mechanical royalties at 75% of the statutory rate (instead of 100%).
2. Publishing contract – 50/50 co-publishing deal with three options to extend the term. They pay an advance of $5,000 per composition embodied on albums released physically by a major. If there is a pre-existing publishing deal, those compositions are excluded, but will be assigned to Universal when the pre-existing deal expires.
3. Merchandise deal – 2 year exclusive merchandise deal, with 2 options. $10,000 advance, percentages are not great but they are not unheard of.
4. Touring Contract – They want to have exclusive control over all live performances following the Voice (they will probably arrange “The Voice” tours as American Idol has done). They will only have the exclusive control for a year, although by the language of the contract it seems like they would be willing to let the Artist play other shows as long as it doesn’t conflict with The Voice tours.
5. Management Agreement – If the Artist is in a management deal already, they get an override of 25% of the management commissions payable to manager. Also, when the current management deal expires, the Artist has to sign a management agreement with Universal Republic. If the Artist is not in a management deal, The Voice has an option of doing a management deal with a 20% commission (pretty standard) for a 7 year term (very long).
If selected for the show, all contestants will have the right to be represented by a lawyer, that lawyer must be selected from a group of three or more lawyers chosen by the Voice. Then that lawyer negotiates on behalf of all the contestants. This is an obvious conflict of interest so I think the Artist could get out of it if they pushed hard enough.
Obviously the Voice is a huge platform; however, if you are selected as a contestant they have the option of signing the Artist to all of the above deals (as well as have them do another reality show and other appearances/services). This is for any contestant, not just the winner. The winner gets $100,000 and guaranteed deal with Universal with a $50,000 advance and 1 album. The other contestants’ deals are worse.
I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that The Voice will provide you with a lawyer of their choosing to represent you in your negotiations against The Voice. And per the terms of the agreement, you can't have any other lawyer of your own choosing replace their lawyer. Seriously?
Umm what? X Factor has a $5 Million recording contract for the winner and I've heard American Idol has a pretty great deal as well in pecuniary terms.
I wouldn't have been surprised with these terms for the first season of The Voice as it was just starting out. But considering the fact that it's a bonafide hit now, the stingy bosses should cough up a more lucrative prize to await 'The Voice' titleholder.
in a lot of talent shows the contracts are pretty much like slavery.
a friend of mine made it to the blind auditions in the german version of the voice, but she left the show because she didn't sign those contracts. she basically had to give up on all the copyrights of the material that she would have written/produced and sung. the participants are pretty much exploited. and even if they get the chance to be signed by another label or e.g. be a face of brand(commercials etc.) their record companies and the shows always have most of the share, i heard.
the friend i mentioned above has also a friend who made it to the liveshows on x-factor in germany(the german watchers may know her: it's gladys. the african girl who made das bo weak ) and she basically had the same contracts, i.e. being exploited. but she had her lawyer loosen the conditions a lot. she had to pay a lot to the lawyer though