It’s about Entertainment NOT Singing

The X Factor started off as THE utmost singing competition on TV but it has now become a hot mess. All the judges have their claws out as they set their eyes on the final prize and producers know from the start who they want to win and any voting is pointless. They want to achieve maximum ratings and give the most commercial act a record deal. How do they do this? The inclusion of controversial acts, judges voting to save themselves and win the competition, meaningless bickering, the sham called a “sing-off” and producers telling judges how to vote – it’s a winning formula or at least it used to be. Ratings are going down on a weekly basis. It’s become a joke! But I’m still watching, why? It’s entertaining.

Since the airing of the live shows, it has been thrashed on a weekly basis by rival show Strictly Come Dancing. X Factor needs to do something to save itself but what? Controversial act NOT singer, Rylan Clark, represents everything that’s wrong with the show, he is like marmite. Talented acts are eliminated at the expense of joke acts like Rylan but at least he is living his dream. He even admitted “I don’t reckon I can win in the slightest. If I were to win this society would sink under water – but weirder things have happened.”

Although he has been entertaining 3 of the four judges on the panel, Gary Barlow is not impressed. He has been pushing for Rylan to go ever since the first elimination show where his act was sent packing and Rylan was saved after the judges decided to take the vote to deadlock (with a little help from the producers whispering in Louis Walsh’s ear). Gary called the outcome an ‘absolute joke’, telling his act that she had “lost out to joke acts.”

The last thing Simon would want is for Rylan to be thrown out. The show thrives on controversial publicity, and why not? It is only entertainment right? It’s traditional for X Factor judges to save “the entertainer” over “the voice.” You’ll probably find that Nicole was instructed to take Rylan through to the live shows. These novelty acts are the ones that get people watching because it gets people talking about the show. There is always outrage after a talented act is sent packing instead of the less talented act, however how many of these outraged viewers actually voted for these acts? Many people assume that the worst acts will be eliminated first, but every year there are examples that show not enough people voted for the act that they think will be “safe” because they assume enough people will be voting for them.

The outrage over Rylan comes from the fact that many people think that he shouldn’t have made it to the live shows in the first place. Nicole Scherzinger, his mentor, eliminated more talented contestants in order to keep Rylan in the competition, and she is getting a lot of the blame. But Nicole obviously didn’t learn her lesson after she was fired from “The X Factor” U.S. that if too much of the public turns against her, Cowell and company will dump her from “The X Factor.”

Ironically, she stated in an interview “I must be making Simon Cowell proud because controversy is his favourite word. I chose Rylan because the show is about having the X Factor and he has the X Factor. It is not just a singing show. Rylan has already said he is not trying to be Whitney Houston or a big ballad singer — he wants to be a dance artist.”

Let’s talk about the controversial “sing-off”. Some judges base their decisions on factors other than the sing-off, so what’s the point of having it if judges aren’t going to base their decision on it?  It’s no longer an opportunity for the acts to remind the judges of what they can do as ultimately their decision will be somewhat tactical so that their own acts can advance further in the competition by eliminating a threat or an act who takes a share of the votes from their act.

This is where music and media collide. Viewers may think they are watching a singing competition but they’re not. They’re watching an entertainment show were producers have already got songs lined up for the act that they know will win. The music industry is somewhat forced to accept these talent show manufactured acts and attempt to turn them into global superstars. The X Factor has lost the little credibility it used to have over the past 2 years. More than ever it looks as though the show is tired and ready to throw in the towel. I guess at some point everything becomes old.

Since this blog has mostly been about Rylan, watch him murder 3 songs in just over 2 minutes!

Band Agreements – Four Things you Definitely Want Covered

Poor Robin

With all this talk about contracts between artists and managers and agents and promoters and publishers and record labels and all kinds of other money grabbing people and things, it becomes easy to overlook one of the most important and fundamental  agreements a band can have: the band agreement. The band agreement is exactly what it sounds like – an agreement between the band members that outlines the business aspects of their art. I know that for all the cool kids out there that are in bands with their BFF’s because their ‘vibe is just so pure and wonderful and it’s all about the music, not the money’ – this doesn’t apply, you guys just high five and call it a day. But, for anybody else here are some things you might want to consider about the band agreement.

First of all this is something that should get done in the very early stages of the band. It brings up very important questions that you normally wouldn’t necessarily think of. These are best discussed when there isn’t too much money coming in (or any at all) and everybody in the band still loves each other. This just ensures everything gets done in an easy and friendly way. Sometimes it is difficult to bring up depressing things like breakups and it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer to overlook the whole process and bring up the negative stuff for you. You may never need the agreement but it will definitely be better to have it rather than not.

So we have established that they should be done in the early stages and that they might never even be used but what exactly should the band agreement entail, what questions should get asked? Here is a summary of Martin Frascogna’s four things that should always be covered at a minimum level and I think these are pretty good starting points.

1. Decide How the Band and Will Decide

For any decisions the band makes from buying new equipment or software to who to hire as a manager, there should be a defined way that they are made. A simple vote makes sense but what if the band has an even number of members and the vote comes in 50/50? Furthermore try and think about which decisions will require a unanimous vote and decide who has the power to break a tie based on things like financial investments and individual workload.

2. Income Structure

When the band makes money where does that money go? With certain income streams and depending on other contracts you might not have a choice but for when you do have a choice this comes in handy. Do all members get a cut? Is some of the income put aside for investments in the band? Establish who the songwriters are, in other words if you register a song for copyright (or a creative commons license woop woop!) Whose name is it registered under; the band as a whole or a certain individual?

3. Trademark

Who owns the band name? If you assume everyone shares equal parts that means 3 people could leave a band that originally had 5 members and start using the name. In a weird way them quitting would be like the other two getting fired. Figure out what you want because once a band gets started they will be spending a lot of effort and resources in branding themselves and getting the name out there/developing a fan base. There is a lot at stake with band names and trademarks so it is important to discuss the best way to go about it. If this isn’t determined often times a court will decide that no one can continue using the name and then both sides get screwed out of it. Furthermore, if your band has registered the name and somewhere down the road you come into contact with someone else who has the exact same name but isn’t registered, you can probably guess who wins and get’s to keep it.

4. Jurisdiction

The band needs to know under what laws their disputes (if any) will be governed. If you ever need to go to court will it need to be in California? or Massachusetts? or Valencia? This are more important than one thinks. If you live in Boston and you have a deal with some company in Los Angelas, that says your jurisdiction is in California you would need to  pay California Courts, travel expenses to and from LA, and you might even need to deal with different laws you were unaware of. In any case, make sure you pick a home base!

Remember that a band agreement is as important as any other contract and the earlier it gets done the less painful and expensive it will be for everyone if you ever need it. As a manager this should be one of the first things you organize for a band if they don’t already have it.

Phillip Richard

Sources and Further Reading:

http://blog.midem.com/2012/06/martin-frascogna-4-minimum-requirements-for-artist-agreements/#.UIgyFLTevWY

http://www.themusiciansguide.co.uk/blog/13/why-you-need-a-band-agreement-contract-guest-post-by-daniel-ward/

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/020311samename