Simon Cowell, one of the judges for the show, stated in an interview
with Copley News Service in February of 2004, “I own the recording rights – the winners and other contestants sign with my label”. 19 Entertainment not only controls their recording contracts, but every other aspect of their careers including merchandising touring, sponsorship and movie deals (Olsen, 2004a).
The limitations placed on the contestants are great. They are locked into non-negotiable contracts with 19 Entertainment and BMG music. An actual excerpt from the contract reads:
“I hereby grant the Producer the unconditional right throughout the universe in perpetuity to use, simulate, or portray my name, likeness, voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations, events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur…”
The construction of this contract may remind one of Faust. The exchange rate seems to be a bit lopsided. Beyond the “relinquishing of the soul,” the contract gives the promoters permission to tell lies about the individual signing the contract as evidenced by the following excerpt.
“Other parties…may reveal and/or relate information about me of personal, private, intimate, surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature that may be factual and/or fictional.”
If they can’t promote the signer by credible means, they will simply make things up to sell or otherwise sensationalize the “property” into a position of value”
Just how much control does Simon Cowell have on their careers? Let’s just say that he is God when it comes to who gets what, when, where, why and how.
If you can wade through the legalese in this document, you will come out knowing that they are all completely at Cowell’s mercy.
Why did Taylor Hicks fall so hard? Why is Kris Allen being under-promoted? Why was Chris Daughtry, a guy that came in fourth place, treated as the de facto winner of season 5? Why did Clay Aiken inexplicably disappear from Radio (despite enormous success with his debut album) and be forced to record covers and christmas tunes?
Ask Simon Cowell.
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