Adam Levine's upcoming competition reality show Songland is the subject of some serious scrutiny right now. In a LinkedIn blog post, entertainment attorney Wallace E.J. Collins III (whose clients have appeared on The Voice and American Idol) vivisects the agreement that participating songwriters are required to sign, calling it "by far one of the most onerous such television contest submission agreements I have encountered." (Levine, who is not in Coldplay, is an exec-producer on the show.) Collins says:
The NBC/Universal submission agreement for the "Songland" TV show states that NBC will own all rights to use and exploit all of your songs involved in the show including the songs you submit in the initial application. You would also purportedly be giving up your song even if you do not get selected to be on the Songland TV show (so whatever songs you use to audition would arguably become theirs to use and exploit even if they do not choose you). It also states that you waive your rights to claim any royalties from the songs whatsoever. On top of that, it states that you waive your right to sue NBC Songland (e.g., in case you didn't read the contract upon signing).
He goes on to clarify that "there is no way to know if NBC/Universal would actually pursue such a course of action and claim to be able to use and exploit all of the submitted songs without paying songwriters — the only thing I am addressing here is the language in the submission agreement."
While he says the contract was probably written up by the legal department without nefarious intentions, there's still cause for concern regarding the discrepancies between contracts. Speaking with the Wrap, Collins said:
One contract states that songwriters grant the producer the rights to the music only “if I am selected to be a participant on the Program,” and specifies the music must be used in “connection with the Program.”
However, the submission form Collins reviewed for one of his clients does not include the language “if I am selected to be a participant on the Program,” and instead simply states “I grant Producer the right to record, reproduce and publicly perform any such music in and in connection with the Program or any other work.”