It’s only in the legalese of the contest rules that the real "prize" is revealed — it appears artists must waive their royalties to participate and allow Clear Channel to use their music in nearly any form. Here’s an excerpt of the language:
…BY SUBMITTING THE SONG, YOU HEREBY GRANT TO THE COMPANY A PERPETUAL, WORLDWIDE, NON-EXCLUSIVE, ROYALTY-FREE, SUB-LICENSABLE (THROUGH MULTIPLE TIERS) RIGHT AND LICENSE TO USE, PUBLISH, REPRODUCE, DISPLAY, PERFORM, ADAPT, MODIFY, DISTRIBUTE, HAVE DISTRIBUTED AND PROMOTE SUCH CONTENT IN ANY FORM (INCLUDING ANY TITLE OF THE VIDEO AND YOUR NAME AND LIKENESS), IN ALL MEDIA NOW KNOWN OR HEREINAFTER CREATED, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, FOR ANY PURPOSE.
This might seem like a blip on the radar, but it’s not the first time Clear Channel has made a play for artists’ royalties. Back in July, FMC and A2IM challenged Clear Channel for forcing artists to waive their performance royalties as a condition of consideration for airplay.
Incredibly enough, the play came as a part of a settlement over a payola investigation. If you remember, Clear Channel and other major broadcasters agreed to pay a $12.5 million fine to end an FCC investigation into allegations of payola at the broadcasters’ stations. Indie artists inked a side agreement with the broadcasters to play 4,200 hours of independent music and abide by "Rules of Engagement," basically rules that would make it more difficult for payola to flourish at stations.
To collect indie music for the 4,200 hours of airtime, Clear Channel set up web pages attached to each of its stations’ web sites that allowed artists to submit their music for airplay. Just like with the fine print of the KYSR contest, Clear Channel asked artists to waive performance royalties in a licensing agreement that artists were forced to check before they could submit their music.
Clear Channel responded to a payola investigation with a scheme that asked artists to give up something of value to get airplay on their radio stations, which violated the letter and spirit of the "Rules of Engagement." It’s hard to imagine a more insincere act of contrition and it appears Clear Channel still hasn’t learned its lesson, if the KYSR contest is any indicator.