Wednesday, July 15, 2009

alas corporate sponsors

We received an email not too long ago from that website Sonicbids about a pretty tempting opportunity: submit a song, and if you win, you can play at Forecastle 2010 and get up to $5000 for travel and lodging...

Then I read the terms:
"At the time you send your Entry, in whole or in part, to Sponsor, and whether or not your Entry is selected as a winner, Entrants grant to Sponsor an irrevocable right and license in and to the Entry, in whole and in part, and all the intellectual property rights therein, through-out the world for a period of five (5) years, and further agree to execute all documents and perform all acts deemed necessary by Sponsor to protect Sponsor’ license in the intellectual property. You will not now nor in the future be paid for your Entry or for granting Sponsor any of these rights. "

Wow--I can't think of any stronger language that suggests "you hereby sell your soul". I can say unequivocally that we'd much rather work our way to Forecastle. I've had the idea to play there ever since I randomly stumbled upon a free bumper sticker (that now decorates my Tele case). The sponsor is JanSport, and afterall, they are likely to pick a song that they think will grace an advertisement. But then, anyone who submits gives away their property rights.

There is also a clause in there that says you can't have any exclusive or non-exclusive distribution agreement, even a deal with an Indie label. So that brought me a new thought--a record label can protect an artist from a scam.

The idea of music as a product is a concept I have tried to tackle/accept/explainaway/deny on a few occasions. Our old bass player Josh Petty introduced me to the collective copyright (CC) movement a while back, and I have sympathy for it. It has a flair of altruism. And we might arrange the rights to our next record as some shade of CC. With Emergent Sea we were new to the whole process, and our producer arranged the rights for us.

Whatever we decide, our goal is for the band to be it's own animal and to pay for itself. That will be an accomplishment in its own right. And we would rather have people supporting us than a corporation. Have you ever tried to crowdsurf on a corporation?

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