Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Terms and conditions apply

As always, the devil is in the details when it comes to band competitions like Budweiser’s Future Sounds of Irish Music

Dudes, that song now belongs to Bud

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 09:31


You have to hope that OTR is not the only one out there who goes beyond the headlines when it comes to band competitions like Budweiser’s Future Sounds of Irish Music. The competition, per the press bumpf, will give “10 talented unsigned Irish music artists” the chance to “fulfil their dreams” with a recording studio session with music producer Rob Kirwan.

Leaving aside the fact that “unsigned” is one of those words which sets many people’s teeth on edge, it’s a case of so far so good. Bands apply and the winning 10 acts get a go in a state-of-the-art pop-up studio in Dublin with a name producer, as well as some paid-for media exposure in publications and radio stations who are happy to sign up to cover acts before they know who those acts are (you can probably guess who the publications and radio stations are without too much bother).

The problem arises when you go and have a look at the terms and conditions for the competition. The legal nerd part of me loves terms and conditions. Rather than looking at great YouTube videos (the bass-player on this one, I have to say, is fantastic and thanks to James from White Denim for the tip-off) or following the latest Twitter flameout, I’ll open a bag of popcorn and spin through some T&Cs. Yeah, I’m strange like that.

In the case of this competition, there’s the usual yadda-yadda about being a Facebook fan of the brand, the prize being non-transferable and so on. But burrow down into the lengthy legalese – which is naturally totally at odds at the hey-dude language of the competition elsewhere – and you’ll find this nugget:

“Entrants agree that all forms of intellectual property rights (including all copyright) that may exist in their entry are assigned to the Promoter on submission of the entry form.”

This means…, well, you know what it means. You’re smart enough to know what it means, but we’ll spell it out anyway. You’re assigning the rights from your song which you’ve linked to in your application to the Promoter (ie the Budweiser Future Sounds of Irish Music). That’s right, your song, probably your best song, the one you spent hours, nay days, slaving over, the song you want produced. You’re assigning the “intellectual property rights (including all copyright)” in your banger, beaut or boom tune to Bud. Oh, you’re not getting a red cent in return and, worse, there’s no indication how long this assignment will last for (the duration of the competition? In perpetuity?) The mind boggles at this.

But we’ve been here before. Readers with long memories will recall Vodafone’s Bright New Sounds competition (maybe it’s a giveway that it’s a dodgy band competition if “sounds” is in the title?) from a few years ago and its flagrant rights grab. That competition only ran for one year, as far as I can remember, which is just as well given what they were demanding from entrants, not just from the winning band or bands.

Similarly, this Bud competition appears to be pulling a fast one with its open-ended copyright and IP demands on all entrants. Is it any wonder that people are increasingly suspicious about brands getting involved with music when you see this kind of thing going on? Now that brands know they’re the ones paying the piper from their marketing budget, they’re not just calling the tune, but also demanding that they get to own the damn tune as well. The fact that Bud is operated in Ireland by Diageo makes you wonder if this is another page from the Arthur’s Day/Arthur Guinness Projects’ playbook. Let’s hope that the bands who are seeking to enter realise what’s going on. After all, everyone else involved is getting paid.