The story of Phillip Phillips
I don’t know if you guys know Phillip Phillips - he sang those songs “home” and “Gone, gone, gone”. I don’t know him that well but I like his songs. He was the winner of American idol and has since then got into a massive legal battle with 19 entertainment who produce the show and run the record label he is signed to as a result of winning (so like what Simon Cowell/Syco is to the X-factor/5H).
I know we are talking about American idol here and not X-factor, but they are basically the same thing and this whole thing has everything to do with Fifth Harmony. In fact, the two shows are so similar that Simon Fuller (owner of American Idol) actually tried to sue Simon Cowell by claiming the copyrights to the X-Factor format, and as a result, Fuller is actually now a partner in the X-factor. Basically Simon Cowell worked with Simon Fuller on American Idol but then sneakily fucked off to produce his own show that did exactly the same thing lol. No wonder Fuller tried to sue him!
Anyway, in January 2015, Phillips started a legal battle to basically get out of his deal with his management. His management company was the same as his record company - all run by 19 entertainment. So basically, Simon fuller had set it up so that he can control and reap the benefits from everything in the winning act’s career (similar to what simon has done to 5H). Apparently 19 entertainment “Manipulated” him into accepting jobs that didn’t benefit him and his lawyer said the contracts were "oppressive, fatally conflicted.“ .
Some of the ridiculous agreements included being forced to perform for no money and literally not even knowing the title of his album before it was publicly announced!!!!. He claimed that 19 entertainment repeatedly withheld information regarding his career (I think we all know 5H have been in similar situations of being kept in the dark regarding their careers…)
Basically, before phillips actually won the show, he signed a contract with 19 entertainment that allowed them to govern his management, merchandising, recording and publishing. You can assume a similar deal with 5H - From what I understand, the X-factor also makes contestants sign with Syco before the show finishes, making them remain with syco for 3 months after the show finishes… And during those 3 months, Syco/Sony can decide whether they want to exercise their option of signing the act to a full-on record deal. So what I’m saying is that all the bullshit reality TV style contractual stuff that they are able to get away with in that format, probably still applies when they go into the full record deal. These things are set up so that the labels get a lot of passive rights (where syco get a percentage of everything the x-factor contestants do for years) and active rights (where they also get to control everything about the artists’ careers so that the label can benefit the most). Syco/sony still retain a ridiculous amount of control over the artist’s career - probably way more than a normal record deal.
Phillips tried to use the Californian Talent Agencies Act to void his contract with 19 entertainment. (It’s quite a technical thing thats not that interesting). 19 entertainment then tried to sue Phillips’ manager, basically for turning against them and ‘manipulating’ him into trying to get out of his contract. Then, also, in summer 2016 (after 19 entertainment went bankrupt lol) 19 entertainment tried to sue Phillips for millions because he wasn’t carrying on with his contractual obligations to them while the whole legal battle was going on. The latest article I saw on the story from the end of last year was predicting that the label would not been able to sue him because of their bankruptcy. However… I only skimmed through the articles so if you find some more updates on the story please let me know.
The details aren’t really that important - the important points are that these reality TV shows that artists sign record deals off of are notoriously horrible. The contracts give the label active rights to control almost every aspect of the artist’s career. And even when Phillips tried to get out of his management contract, his new manager was hit with a poaching lawsuit, and he himself was hit with a 6 million dollar lawsuit. It literally took actual bankruptcy of the company for him to not get sued in this process. Usually getting into a legal battle with a label is suicidal - they just have so much more power, money and resources, and have usually covered their backs in iron-clad contracts. i think another really important point to take from this is what Phillips said about how his label treated him - that they repeatedly withheld information from him regarding his own career - that he didn’t even know his album title before the public did. i think this stuff is particularly relevant to 5H. The execs are pulling the strings and the artists are the puppets. At times the girls may know just as much as we do regarding their futures. I’m sure as a coping mechanism they’ve learnt to just roll with it and pick their battles.
Anyway I’m not sure on the latest details of the legal battle… I assume he legitimately managed to get out of his management contract in the end, but here is his twitter is you want to support him.