Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Help Me Howard: American Idol
American Idol is down to its final few, but don't forget there were thousands who auditioned, including right here in Miami. One memorable contestant says the show is still making money off his unique audition, and he wants his piece of the Idol pie, but can he get it? We'll let Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser be the judge of that.
WSVN -- Brandon wanted us to watch him climb up on the roof and do a little dance, then jump down. Brandon likes to sing and dance. For proof, go to YouTube and watch one of his 73 videos where he is known as Bran B.
Obviously, a very shy fellow who does not like the spotlight.
Brandon Black: "All my life I just like entertaining."
So, of course, when these people came to town, Bran B came out.
Brandon Black: "American Idol came along and I was like, 'This is my big chance to get on TV,' so I just took it."
Oh, he took it all right. For his audition, Bran B put on a show the judges didn't get and, in part, cause the judges to turn their backs on him. Bran B didn't make American Idol, but his attempt wasn't a failure. Just his unique audition made him a hit.
Brandon Black: "Yeah, man, a lot of people call me to do their shows and Sweet 16 parties, and everything like that, so American Idol they just helped me out more."
Bran B is making money from American Idol. Then, when he called a friend, he found out American Idol was apparently making money off him.
Brandon Black: "And then, when I called their phone, I hear my audition, and I was like, 'What? That's me, that's my audition.'"
Bran B's audition is one of the ring tones for sale at AT&T, which Bran B says he never agreed to.
Brandon Black: "They are basically trying to use my voice because they know I got popularity to make money, and I don't think that's right. They should at least be giving me royalties and all that."
Now, before you try out for American Idol, you do sign a contract. Bran B says he did, but he doesn't remember signing away the rights to his voice.
Brandon Black: "As you know, I graduated with a 4.125. I know that you have to read stuff before you sign your life away, and I don't remember seeing anything about ring tones or being able to use it in advertising."
So the American Idol wannabe called that Help me Howard legal bee. Don't sing the law, Howard, just cite it.
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, no one can use your image, voice, name anything like that for profit unless you give them permission. Bran B signed a contract. I read it, and I think you will agree, he gave his rights away."
When we checked the contract that all contestants trying out for American Idol must sign, we found several clauses, one that says, "I grant to the producer the irrevocable right to use my appearance name, likeness, singing voice at the producer's discretion," and one more that says, "I hereby release among the companies listed AT&T Mobility in connection with any use or reuse of my singing voice."
Howard says the contract clearly favors American Idol, but, for many unknown artists, it's a risk worth taking.
Howard Finkelstein: "You would not sign a one-sided contract to buy a house or a car, but in this case, if you are an unknown artist, this show can make you wealthy and famous beyond your wildest dreams, so for almost every aspiring artist, it's a risk worth taking."
Bran B didn't make it to American Idol, but he will quickly tell you that does not mean he will not one day be an American Idol.
Brandon Black: "If I had made it on American Idol, that would be taking the elevator to the top, but, sometimes in life, if you can't take the elevator there is always the stairs, slowly but surely you will make it to the top -- just never give up on your dreams."
Patrick Fraser: "Bran B has more personality than any ten people I know. By the way, if you are wondering how people who make it on American Idol make any money, if they are a finalist, they sign a new contract that helps the money pour in."
Tone deaf troubles left your ears ringing? Need someone to sing your praises? Contact us. You may never make it on American Idol, but when you make it on Help me Howard, we won't judge you.
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