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Songwriters warned of NBC's 'Songland' submission form

Adam Levine's new TV competition 'Songland' could leave aspiring songwriters with the blues.Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Adam Levine’s new TV competition ‘Songland’ could leave aspiring songwriters with the blues.

Adam Levine’s new TV competition could leave aspiring songwriters with the blues.

A top Manhattan entertainment lawyer is warning would-be contestants on NBC’s upcoming “Songland” that they could be signing away their careers.

Attorney Wallace Collins was so concerned about the agreements his clients were being asked to sign before auditioning for the show — which is like “The Voice” for songwriters — that he posted a message on social media site LinkedIn headed, “Urgent warning: Songwriters beware of NBC/Universal’s Songland submission form.”

Collins, whose clients have appeared on “The Voice” and “American Idol,” says the agreements for those types of shows can often be “overreaching.”

But he calls the “Songland” agreement “by far one of the most onerous such television contest submission agreements I have encountered.”

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“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,” he cautions in the post.

The website for the show, apparently responding to concerns, says that if potential contestants submit songs in the audition process, they don’t have to do give up “any portion of the copyrights” for those songs. It says that if they are selected to be on air, they would have to “enter into further agreements or sign other documents.”

Attorney Wallace Collins posted a message on social media site LinkedIn headed, “Urgent warning: Songwriters beware of NBC/Universal’s Songland submission form.”Kevin Winter

Attorney Wallace Collins posted a message on social media site LinkedIn headed, “Urgent warning: Songwriters beware of NBC/Universal’s Songland submission form.”

Collins told Confidenti@l that the difference with the new show is that once a show like “American Idol” is over, the companies behind it own little more than footage of contestants’ two or three minute performances, which would be of limited value to the contestant anyway.

But rights to songs themselves can be a money-maker for a songwriter for years to come.

“Hey, look, if I’m going to sing a song and NBC’s going to film it, fine — they own the footage; we agree,” he said, “but if I’m singing a song that I wrote — or the more onerous angle is if I submit a song that I wrote and even if I don’t get in the contest — technically (NBC) owns that song now. That’s a crazy deal.”

Collins acknowledges that the network would likely not enforce that ownership in every case but he says that, nonetheless, their language is clear.

“Whether or not they’re going to enforce it, all the way down the line, what it says is: If you join this contest you give them your songs, even if you submit and even if you don’t get picked (to be on air),” he said, “whatever you send in, they own it and you waive any right to get any money, ever, and they can do whatever they want with it.”

NBC declined to comment.

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