Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Hot Topics in Entertainment Law for 2012- Part I

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So 2012 seems like it will be another interesting year in entertainment and intellectual property law.   I discussed my predictions for the year in terms of hot topics in social media and the law over at the Social Media Club Clubhouse, and will be posting a midyear update soon, so I thought I would discuss some hot topics I’ve noticed in entertainment law over here. 

A big topic to keep an eye on is termination of copyright grants.  You may have read about the recent court decision in favor of Village People singer Victor Willis allowing him to terminate his portion of the grant of copyright rights to Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, the companies who administer the music publishing for the group’s songs.  You will likely be seeing more litigation in this area, as 2013 will be the first year in which songwriters and recording artists who made grants of their copyrights to publishers or record labels can terminate those grants under the copyright law.  In 1978, an extension of the copyright act went into effect that granted artists the right to terminate their copyright grants 35 years after that grant under section 203.  There are some strict requirements to send a termination notice, and the notice must be sent not less than two years before the termination date, and not more than 10 years before that date.

Think of the artists who would have been making these copyright grants 35 years ago…some big names come to mind: the Eagles, Bob Dylan, the Village People, Tom Petty, the list goes on and on.  Losing the right to license these songs or recordings could be a big blow to a record label or music publisher, which is why you will likely see a lot of litigation next year trying to prevent these terminations from going through.  Another wrinkle that arises when you are talking about termination is whether sound recordings fall within the termination provisions of the copyright law.  This has its roots in the provisions in most record contracts that states that any recordings created during the term of that contract are works made for hire that would be owned by the record label, and the fact that sound recordings are not one of the categories of works that can be works made for hire.  If the recordings were found to be works made for hire, under the copyright law they would be seen as having been authored by the record company, and giving the termination right to the label rather than to the artist. 

I think that’s a good place to start, enjoy the food for thought.  Up next, I’ll discuss recent developments in right of publicity cases, especially in music video games.  

New Books, Stage Collapses and Milestones, Oh My!

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Howdy folks, sorry to have fallen off the blogging wagon for a while there.  The last few months have been pretty hectic with a move to an in-house position with a technology company in Orlando and all the fun that comes with moving and getting settled.  But things are settling down, and I’m hoping to get back to posting on a more regular basis.

To start, I am proud to announce the publication of a book that I contributed a chapter to, The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Video Game Development.The American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Video Game Development

I contributed chapter 2, which is about business and finance issues to consider when starting a video game company.  I am really excited that it is out, and want to thank my colleague Ross Dannenberg, who edited the book, for the opportunity to take part in the project.  Ross also is one of the principal authors of the blog Patent Arcade, which covers video game IP law, I encourage you to check it out.

Also, in the midst of all that has been going on, I missed celebrating the two year birthaversary of my firm, can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  I’m looking forward to another year of working with creative and interesting clients.

Next, in light of all the scary stage collapse stories in the news in recent months, I wanted to take some time to talk about stage riders.  @catherinereach had inquired about them in response to a tweet I had posted about the unfortunate stage collapse and resulting deaths at the Pukkelpop festival earlier this month, and whether safety requirements are typically part of the contracts bands sign.  The answer is typically yes, though it depends on the level of festival or event involved, as well as the sophistication of the parties.  As you can see in Metallica’s rider for their 2004 tour, there is a provision on page 9 giving the band the right to cancel their performance in the event that they feel the band or fans would be subject to bodily injury.  It also calls for the party booking the band to provide general liability insurance, and abide by applicable health and safety regulations.   Now a bigger band like Metallica will have a crew traveling with them to handle matters like the rigging of lights and sound, which provides them with some means of protecting against disaster, but as Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman noted in a recent interview with Alternative Press, there is nothing you can do to completely safeguard a festival.  It’s an interesting read, as is this article published by The Hollywood Reporter on the recent festival disasters.  It provides an interesting perspective on the infamous Van Halen rider request that no brown M&Ms be placed in their dressing room.  This request was included, as many rider requests are, to ensure that the promoter had read the contract and complied with its requirements, including following the safety requirements for setting up the stage.  The best bet for a band is to ensure that stage safety requirements are set out in its rider, and that the contract calls for the promoter to have adequate insurance in the event of an accident.  But even with a contract in place, don’t forget to trust your instincts as well.  It has been reported that a last minute decision by Sugarland’s tour manager to keep the band from going on stage may have made the difference in preventing the band from being harmed in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.  So, to sum it up, get your requirements in writing and trust your instincts when it comes to stage safety.

And finally, speaking of festivals, do check out Fest 10 via the ad in the sidebar.  Looks like it will be another amazing 3 days of music invading Gainesville this year.  Check out the free comps and all the other Fest goodness over at their site.

Band Operating Agreements

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

So 2010 is quickly coming to a close, and I thought I would get one last post in to wrap up the year here at the PunkLawyer blog.  There has been quite a bit of hubbub online about the departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro from the band Paramore, including dueling blog accounts of the circumstances surrounding said departure.  To read the posts and view the videos, check out the coverage over at Alternative Press.   While I’m not familiar with the actual operation within the band Paramore, I thought that this would be a good time to discuss band partnership or operating agreements.

More bands than you would think have operating agreements in place.  These agreements can vary somewhat according to the type of business entity such as a corporation or limited liability company that a band chooses.  The decision to create a business entity is important, and something I will cover in a future post.  Depending on the particular entity you choose, an operating agreement can be required.  This agreement will typically cover who is on the board of directors of the company, when, where and how often they will meet, how they can vote, and otherwise run the company.  For a band, such an agreement can also address what rights members have to make purchases beyond a certain dollar amount on behalf of the band, as well as to enter into contracts on its behalf.

A particular area of importance to address in a band partnership or operating agreement is what happens when a member leaves.  This is also an important issue for startup companies, where like a band a member can leave and potentially wreak havoc on the company if a procedure for the departure of that person is not in place.  Think of the bands you have seen that tour with only one or two of the original members but still use the same name.   While in some instances this may be done without the permission of the original members, in others it comes down to who owns the rights to the band name.  A famous example is Guns N’ Roses, who have continued to exist in various incarnations with Axl Rose as the only remaining original member.  The story goes that when the band was renegotiating its contract with Geffen Records, Axl had language added to the contract stating the he alone would own the name of the band.  Once the band members signed that contract, Axl had the legal right to use that name.  This would mean he can perform under that name with different members, license it for merchandise, you get the idea.

So how would you want to structure your band agreement to avoid later disputes as to the ownership of the band name, particularly after a band member leaves?  You would want to include language that states what a departing member would receive in terms of compensation, and that he or she leaves with no rights to the band name, image and the like.  Or your band may have a different view, but generally it is best to spell these type of issues out so that when you’re in the midst of the upheaval that can surround a band member’s exit you know that the issues are clear and in writing.   An entertainment attorney can help your band draft such an agreement, as well as assist you in the process of incorporating or forming another type of business entity.  Of course, you hope you never have to deal with these issues, but as a lawyer I like to try and plan for the worst but hope for the best.  Hope that you all have a happy new year, I look forward to sharing more insights with you in 2011.

Adventures in Austin

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I spent part of last week at Game Developers Conference Online in Austin.  I’ve been trying to fit in one of the GDC conferences for the past few years, so when I lucked out and won a pass in the online scavenger hunt, I jumped at the chance to attend.  In addition to punk rock, an area I am really passionate about is the intersection of new technology and the law, and attending certainly fed right into that.  Tuesday started off with summits on game narrative, iPod game design, and 3-D stereoscopic gaming.  I had noticed that the game narrative summit featured a session on storytelling in the Rock Band games a while back on Twitter, and made a beeline for it Tuesday morning.  It was a great session, Design Director Chris Foster and Senior Writer Helen McWilliams from Harmonix discussed how they developed the narrative of the game, and a big theme was that they wanted to keep the game as true to the dream of being in a band we all have.  If you didn’t know, a lot of the people at Harmonix either are in bands or were in bands, including Ben Carr of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  The writers capitalized on this treasure trove of anecdotes, and as research recorded the musings of their coworkers one night at a local watering hole.  In addition to designing the game to follow the path a band’s career would take, such as moving on to better transportation and playing bigger venues, the writers also incorporated vignettes that would convey what it would be like to embark on that first trip as a band with a van.  They not only highlighted what was included in the game narrative, but also discussed some of the features that were removed, such as characters that would guide you through the game, as well as a global network of venues.   Narrative was of particular importance in developing the Beatles: Rock Band title, where Chris mentioned that they took great care to not have any virtual Beatles interacting or appearing too close to live footage from their careers.  It was also clear that the writers also took great care to respect the history of the band while creating a game that was fun to play.  Having written and spoken about licensing issues in music video games, it was really cool to get a look behind the scenes at the creative aspects of developing them.

I mostly stuck with the monetization track on Wednesday, and the talk was all about social gaming, virtual goods and how to make money with them.  The numbers on these games are fascinating, one speaker was saying that with a social game, 95 percent of users will not pay for the game, and of the remaining five percent, you really have to focus on the 1 percent who are your ‘whales’ as they say in the casinos.  Forget the 80-20 rule, apparently for social games it’s the 99-1 rule.  If you look at the growth of Zynga in terms of users and dollars, it’s incredible to think that such a small percentage of users is driving it.  Though when you multiply that by the more than 500 million users of Facebook, it’s clear that even a small percentage of such a huge audience can add up to big business.  There was also a lot of discussion of how to keep players engaged and coming back, the strategy and planning that goes into those games is incredible, especially if you consider that the average Facebook game only lasts 45 days.  The quickening pace of game development cycles was also a hot topic at GDC Online, for game apps on the iPhone and iPad the idea is to ship a game every three months.  Given how much time and work goes into programming and developing those games, I cannot imagine how you can turn it around in those short time frames, but companies and individuals are doing it.

Another panel I was excited to attend was the program on legal issues associated with selling virtual goods.  If you didn’t know, I co-edited a book that was released this year on intellectual property issues in computer gaming and virtual worlds that was published earlier this year by the American Bar Association.  Side note, another benefit of the conference was meeting people who responded to that sentence with “that’s awesome” instead of a glazed over look.  I also made a guy’s evening at the kickoff party by saying I liked his “Misfits/Danzig-y’ look.  Hey he did have that look going on.  Getting back to legal matters, Greg Boyd gave a great presentation on the veritable minefield of issues that can arise from selling virtual goods in games, from potentially violating state lottery and sweepstakes laws to SEC and banking regulations.  And that’s in addition to the additional layer of regulations game developers are subject to if their game is targeted at children.  Having recently spoken about some of these issues as part of a presentation on keeping kids safe in virtual worlds for Social Media Club Southwest Florida, I was certainly interested in hearing the presentation.  There were a lot of interesting questions from the audience, which I think there will continue to be as the virtual goods and social gaming areas grow.  Look for more posts on issues with virtual goods and other techie issues to come.     What a week, after GDC Online I was off to an entertainment law meeting, definitely left me feeling like some of my touring musician friends with all this travel.  Or George Clooney in ‘Up in the Air’.  Austin was a blast, I was definitely tempted to stay for the Austin City Limits Festival to see Muse and some of the other great bands on the lineup.

Hey That’s My Band Name!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

This post comes at the request of Brian over at Punk on Deck, a fun blog about punk rock and baseball.  Do check it out, particularly if you’re a Cardinals fan.  Brian suggested a post about claiming band names, and who has priority if there is a claim by another band that you’re using their name.  Great suggestion, you’ve probably read about this happening to bands and wondered why this happens.  It’s happened to bands like Blink 182 and The Academy Is….  To start, this is an issue of trademark law.  I’ve heard people talk about bands having to change their names because of copyright law, and that’s not the case.  I want you to know what you’re talking about, in part because I want to educate you, and in part because it’s a pet peeve of mine.  Generally, a trademark refers to marks protected in association with goods, and service marks refer to those marks for services.  Trademark law protects word marks, logos, some slogans, even certain scents and colors.

Trademark protection exists on 3 levels: common law, state, and federal protection.  The strongest level is federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which gives the trademark owner the right to enforce that mark in every state in the U.S.  To register for federal trademark protection, you have to register for each class of goods or services you will be using the mark.  So for example, for a band, you could register for “providing live musical services,” “clothing, including t-shirts, baseball caps, and sweatshirts,”  and “recorded music on CDs, records” you get the idea.  Federal registration can get expensive as you get into multiple classes of goods and services.  State registration protects, as you would imagine, only in the state or states in which you register.  The benefit of state trademark registration is that it gives you proof to use in court that you have been using the mark since a certain time. However, with the Internet, I’m not sure how well state trademark protection will protect a band name, since the Internet can be accessed worldwide.  You can still enforce a trademark like a band name without registering it for either federal or state protection under the common law, the challenge that often arises is proving the date of first use in commerce.

Why does first use in commerce matter?  Well let’s take a band, perhaps they’re like your band.  After hours of debating potential names, perhaps fighting with your bandmates in the process, agonizing over the perfect name, you settled on what you think is a great name.  So you start touring, selling your music online or in physical product, and start getting a following.  Then, just as you start getting successful, you get a letter in the mail from another band with the same name threatening to sue you if you don’t stop using the name.  This is where first use in commerce and being able to prove it comes into play.  The standard for who has priority to use a mark is who was either the first to use the mark in commerce or the first to file an intent to use application for the mark with the USPTO.  Hopefully you and your bandmates have been keeping flyers, CDs, or other items along the way since you started using the name that would prove when you first used the name in commerce.  Or you registered the mark yourselves online, or perhaps you have consulted an attorney knowledgeable in this area of the law to help you register your name for federal registration.    If you indeed were using the mark first and can prove it, you would be able to fight off the other band and keep on truckin’ under that name as the Dead would say.

But what if you are what is known as the junior user, and weren’t using the name first?  Ideally before starting to use a name, you would have hopefully run a Google search for the name, perhaps set up an alert to see if anyone else is using it, and perhaps consulted an attorney to run a full search.  But even having done all of the above, you could still end up with another band firing off a cease and desist letter to your band demanding that you stop using the name.  If either you weren’t the first user of the name, or you just don’t want to spend the time, money and hassle of fighting to protect the name or paying to license it from another band, it may just be easier to change your name.

The decision of what steps to take as a band vary from group to group.  I’ll discuss band partnership agreements, entity selection and other measures you can take in future posts.  If you visit the USPTO site and perform a basic search of some of your favorite bands, you can see that some bands have chosen to register their band names for federal protection and others who haven’t.  While federal registration gives you the strongest level of protection, it doesn’t automatically do so.  Enforcing a trademark means monitoring for other uses of your mark, and having your attorney send cease and desist letters to those other users in your class of goods or services ordering them to stop using the name.  Some bands just don’t want the hassle and expense of doing so.

So what’s the best course of action in choosing a band name and trying to protect it in the future?  Here are some tips:

  • Run a search engine search for the name, set up an alert like Google alerts to see if any other bands using the name come up
  • Also check sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, as well as domain name registration sites to see if any bands are using the name
  • Run a basic search on the USPTO site to see if the name is registered
  • Consult with an attorney knowledgeable in trademark law to run a search on the name and possibly register it for federal protection
  • If you opt not to register for federal trademark protection, document, document, document the use of the name by your band with corresponding dates so you can prove
  • Address who owns the band name as part of your band partnership agreement or other internal agreement (this can save you a lot of headache later)

Well Brian I hope that answered some of your questions.  If any of you out there have suggestions for topics you would like covered here, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.

So You Want to Be A Rock Band Network Star?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the film department at the University of Central Florida and meet some of the faculty.  I enjoyed seeing some of the new technology the students are using, it’s amazing how small the cameras and sound recording devices are getting.  I didn’t get a chance to get over to their downtown facility, hopefully the next time I’m up there I will get to check out the sound stage and motion capture facility.  After all of the writing and speaking I have been doing about music video games and avatars, I would totally be up for trying out one of those motion capture suits just to see what it’s like.  I know, I’m a nerd, it happens.

Speaking of music video games, this week has brought the release of the set list for Rock Band 3, as well as the announcement of Rock Band Network 2.0.  Harmonix and MTV Games have made some improvements to the Rock Band Network experience, you can read more about the changes here. From the time table released, it looks like new software for submitting tracks to RBN2 will be available starting in October, with song submissions starting early next year and tracks becoming available in the first quarter of 2011.  I know there was quite a bit of excitement about the initial launch of Rock Band Network, I imagine there will be more of the same as the release of Rock Band 3 and the launch of RBN2 get closer, as well as questions as to how to get in on the action.  So if you’re an act interested in getting your tracks on Rock Band Network, what do you need to do?

First of all, you need to check on the status of the copyrights to your track.  A song has two copyrights: one in the underlying composition and one in the sound recording.  In order to submit content to Rock Band Network, you need to either own the rights to both the composition and sound recording, or get permission from the label or publisher who has the rights.  Also, Rock Band Network does not accept covers, or songs with samples, so stay with original tracks.  Keeping tracks clean is a good idea too.

Next, you need to decide if you want to try authoring the tracks yourself or have an authoring company do it for you.  If you’re good with recording technology, it might be simpler to try authoring it yourself.  But be warned, it can be time consuming- the estimated time to author one track for RBN is 40 man hours.  You will need the Reaper and Magma software, as well as an XBox 360, a Gold Level XBox Live Membership, and a Creators Club membership to complete the process.  For more details read up on what’s involved here.  Harmonix is also putting on a series of Rock Band Network authoring training sessions and networking events around the country, check it out here.  If you want to go the authoring company route, shop around.  There are differences in pricing and deals, TuneCore initially was charging $999 to author a song for submission to RBN, though they are now charging $2,500 for authoring a song.  Other companies like RockGamer Studios charge by the minute for authoring.  Also look at if the authoring deal calls for the company to get a percentage of your sales of the track.  Once the track is authored and submitted to Rock Band Network, it must then go through peer review and receive a certain amount of positive feedback before it is made available for purchase.   Once the track is made available for purchase, acts receive 30 percent of the track sales.  The prices range from $1-3, so you can do the math as to how that works depending on the price.  It seems like a great way to get exposure for your music.  If you have tracks up on RBN, how is it going?  What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear from you.

Kids in Virtual Worlds, Vinyl and the Kitchen Sink

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

So I was out most of last week in San Francisco at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. It was great meeting, I do a lot of work for the Section of Intellectual Property Law, so having the opportunity to meet face to face with my colleagues to plan for the year was really helpful. I also got to catch some great programs on current issues in virtual worlds, licensing issues in entertainment law, and potential pitfalls for clients in social media. I also got to see the city a bit, and hang out with Lisa from Amp Magazine. It was so rad to hang with another punk rock girl, there certainly aren’t a ton of us in the scene. I had such a great time out there I almost didn’t want to come back, thank you San Fran.  I feel more alive than I have in a while, can’t wait to go back.

So speaking of virtual worlds and social media, for those of you here in Florida, I encourage you to come to Social Media Club Southwest Florida’s event Monday night. I will be speaking about tips for parents to help keep their kids safe in virtual worlds and social gaming, and a Sergeant from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be speaking on online safety for kids and parents. Here is a link with more information, please check it out and register if you can make it: http://www.smcswfl.org/events/august-16th-2010-kids-and-cyber-safety/. I know even some of you punk rockers have kids now, and keeping them safe online is important. Look for more on these and other issues here at the blog.

And also to follow up on the guys in Protagonist, Vinnie Fiorello and the Paper and Plastick gang are putting on a vinyl auction to help the guys try to recover the $22,000 in gear they lost. Please check it out and if you can, bid on some test pressings for a good cause. Here’s more from the Paper and Plastick crew on the auction:

A major ethos in the punk rock community is to rally around causes and help each other in one’s time of need. One instance of the scene supporting itself is when fans help their favorite bands get back on their feet by donating money after suffering the all-too-common gear theft. Boca Raton’s PROTAGONIST suffered a similar fate in June when $22,000 worth of gear was stolen from their trailer just outside of their hotel room, as they were about to enter the studio with Stephen Egerton(Descendents, ALL) to record a new album. In order to help one of its own, PAPER + PLASTICK RECORDS has established an eBayauction of 43 rare Paper + Plastick vinyl test-pressings, and will donate all proceeds to the band.
“When you’re a young band, you are scraping for everything. Any roadblocks, large or small, seem like they might be, and in some cases, can be the end of the road,” confides Paper + Plastick founder Vinnie Fiorello, who has experienced it all with his band Less Than Jake. “Having all of your gear and trailer stolen would fit in the “Uh oh we’re fucked” category of problems a band has to deal with, but in the face of that, Protagonist goes on. With no bitching, they just move forward, not defeated. This auction is my way of helping them keep moving forward.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT SO PLACE YOUR BIDS AND SPREAD THE WORD Check it out here.

See below for full listing of test-pressings:
• A Wilhelm Scream – s/t
• Anti-Flag – Queens and Kings 7″
• Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi
• Coffee Project – Moved On
• The Dopamines – Expect The Worst
• Farewell Continental – s/t
• Flatliners/Snips – split 7″
• Foundation – Chimborazo
• Frank Turner – The First Three Years
• fun – Aim and Ignite
• Greenland Is Melting – Our Hearts Are Gold, Our Hearts Are Blue
• Saint Alvia – Joxner
• Slackers – Lost and Found
• Spanish Gamble – It’s All Coming Down
• The Have Nots – Serf City USA
• The Riot Before – Rebellion
• The Swellers – Ups and Downsizing
• Tumbledown – s/t
• We Are The Union – Great Leaps Forward
• West Bound Train – Come and Get It

Pigeongate Update

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

So after the first post about what is now being called “Pigeongate” by some reporters, more has come out about the Kings of Leon show.  Among my favorite quotes associated from the flap about this show comes from the band’s publicist, who pointed out that “at least no fans were pooped on, as far as we know.”  Oh good, what a relief.  I must say that I would bet the band’s next gig in Saint Louis will be at an indoor venue like the Pageant or the Scottrade Center rather than the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  I’ve always liked the Pageant for shows, caught a lot of great ones in my time up there.  CNN ran a pretty amusing video with live footage of the show in question, check it out.

The Postelles, one of the opening acts, have released a statement about the fateful evening, where they allege that there was more than pigeon poop falling from the rafters:

“It was truly an honor to open up for the Kings of Leon on Friday night in St. Louis. Unfortunately, it was a (expletive)-storm for everyone involved. Amongst other things, a bird fell from the rafters and died while our drummer was setting up (services to be held next week), very fine clothing was ruined throughout the entire night (the laundry bill was rough!), and our equipment was completely covered with…well, you get the point. On a positive note, our bassist John developed some really excellent/awkward dance moves while trying to avoid the falling onslaught from the flock in the sky. We look forward to coming back to St. Louis — hopefully indoors this time.” — The Postelles

Eek, dead birds falling from the rafters, not sure what is grosser.  Certainly makes me think of the hilarious Monty Python dead parrot sketch, it could be one given all the strange factors in this story.

New Rider Request- No Pigeon Droppings on the Band

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

As the touring musicians out there know, almost anything can happen at a show, from crowd surfing guys in dinosaur suits to pyrotechnical mishaps to crazy weather.  I learned of another while reading the Riverfront Times A to Z blog coverage of the Kings of Leon show in Saint Louis last night, which was apparently cancelled due to problems with pigeon droppings hitting the band during their performance.   The tweets by drummer Nathan Followill give you an idea of how bad things were for the band:

@doctorfollowill So sorry St. Louis. We had to bail, pigeons shitting in jareds mouth. Too unsanitary to continue.

@doctorfollowill Don’t take it out on Jared, it’s the fucking venues fault. You may enjoy being shit on but we don’t. Sorry for all              who traveled many miles.

What a gross situation for the band.  Apparently the fans were not too happy when the band cancelled their performance after only 3 songs.  Livenation is providing fans with refunds, and the band is promising to return and make up the show.  Kings of Leon released the following press release today through their publicist:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PIGEON INFESTATION FORCES KINGS OF LEON OFFSTAGE EARLY IN ST. LOUIS

An infestation of pigeons living in the rafters of the Verizon Amphitheatre in St. Louis, MO, forced the Kings of Leon to walk           offstage after three songs last night. Even though opening bands The Postelles and The Stills came offstage complaining of getting riddled with large amounts of pigeon excrement, the Kings of Leon decided to carry on regardless. The band felt it would be unfair to the fans to cancel the show at that late moment.

“I’m surprised they stayed on for as many songs as they did,” said Andy Mendelsohn of Vector Management. “Jared was hit several times during the first two songs. On the third song, when he was hit in the cheek and some of it landed near his mouth, they couldn’t deal any longer. It’s not only disgusting — it’s a toxic health hazard. They really tried to hang in there. We want to apologize to our fans in St. Louis and will come back as soon as we can.”

When the band arrived earlier in the day, the venue warned management that there had been a significant pigeon infestation problem with summer shows over the years, but they were doing all they could to fix it.

“We couldn’t believe what The Postelles and The Stills looked like after their sets,” said Jared Followill. “We didn’t want to cancel the show, so we went for it. We tried to play. It was ridiculous.”

Kings of Leon are headed to Chicago tonight to perform at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre as scheduled.

Sounds like there might be a problem with pigeons at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but dealing with pigeons can be frustrating, as I learned when they would crap on my apartment balcony when I lived in Saint Louis.  When I asked at Home Depot how to best get rid of them, the guy honestly told me the only thing you could do was shoot them.  Just putting it out there, Livenation, you might have a tough time.

This begs the question, how can you try to avoid such problems if you’re touring?  One way you can try to ensure that things go smoothly is by specifying certain needs, from food to insurance, in the contract with the venue or promoter if you have one (which you ideally should).  This includes the rider, which I suspect Kings of Leon’s management is currently updating to include that the performers not be exposed to bird droppings while performing.  For those of you unfamiliar with a rider, it is the provision in the contract that the act has with the venue or promoter containing the act’s requests for particular food, drinks, furniture, power, phone lines, etc to be provided to the band or performer.  There are legendary stories of different artists’ rider requests, such as Van Halen’s request that no brown M&M’s be  placed in their dressing room, which I have on good authority to be true.  Riders are also said to be included in the contract to make sure that the promoter or venue has actually read the contract and abides by it.  For a good read, check out the rider and catering requests from Metallica’s 2004 tour over at the Smoking Gun.  I love that they have to have bacon at every meal, cracks me up.  I also enjoy the Little Red Riders Book, it’s a quick and funny read.  Of course, you can put all kinds of requests in your rider, and crazy things will still happen sometimes out there.  I think being prepared to deal with unexpected events, and having a good team around you to help you if they do occur are essential to surviving a tour.  I’d love to hear your favorite stories of crazy happenings at shows, out there rider requests, and tips on dealing with tour craziness.

Protagonist Update

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

People have been asking me how the guys in melodic hardcore band Protagonist are doing, and I wanted to post this update from guitarist Brian Forst.  Luckily, the guys were able to record with Stephen Egerton, and have posted some video up on PunkNews.  Unfortunately, the guys have not been able to recover their gear, and his update sheds some light on why:

For an update on the trailer situation, we’re just doing what we can to get back on our feet. Nothing turned up and everyone in         Oklahoma was very clear in saying nothing will turn up. It’s stupid but in the state of Oklahoma trailers don’t need titles, license   plates, or to be registered SO trailer stealing is one of their biggest crimes.  The people that steal them are professionals, quick and no exactly what they’re doing. Apparently they don’t want anything to do with what is inside the trailer, just the trailer itself they sell and they toss the rest of it. The police and locals know all of this because they caught a few trailer thieves a few years ago, found a hidden lot with dozens of trailers, and got them to talk. The people are “smart” and know that selling a bunch of equipment with serial numbers all over them will get them caught. Our trailer was parked right outside our room, on a decline with 3-locks attaching it to the van…these people were definitely professionals. Cop suggested that if they couldn’t remove the trailer they may have stole the whole van too and we’re lucky no one was inside of it.

Lucky indeed that no one was hurt, good to know if you’re going to be traveling through Oklahoma with gear.  There’s not much you can do if you’re in an area with determined thieves, especially in this economy.  It can’t hurt sharing information like this with other bands, at least so you can be prepared or try to avoid trouble spots if you can.  Try to figure out where is good to stay in an area

Here’s another issue that the guys learned from their experience that they were willing to share in regard to insurance:

The van was insured with full coverage and we were under the impression the trailer was covered but we overlooked the part that said the van and trailer both have to be in the same name. So the van being in Peters name, and the trailer being in mine, voided out the coverage. Expensive lesson learned.

Big bummer was we were financing that trailer and still owe money on it. Last summer our old trailer go totaled in the middle of nowhere and we had no money to buy a used one so we had no choice but to finance one with no money down. Fortunately through our paypal donations and a benefit show we put on, we almost made enough to pay for the trailer, but as for equipment we still got nothing. Vinnie from LTJ was awesome and gave our drummer one of his old drum sets to help us get back on our feet and the rest of us just have to start saving and borrow gear when we can. A few companies are offering us awesome deals but everything is still super expensive.

Sucks so much that this happened and we’re still insanely bummed, BUT it’s amazing the positive attention and messages we’ve been getting.  A bunch of bands offered to loan us stuff, a band called The Snips offered to print a free run of shirts for us, Hurley sent us a giant box of free clothes, and other cool things like that. So we really want to complain but it could have been much worse. It definitely makes for a good story for when the EP we recorded in Tulsa is released. There is definitely a lot of rage behind those new songs.

Glad to hear the community is helping them out, I’m not surprised.  I know I can’t wait to hear the new raging tracks, and wishing Protagonist great things for the future.  Thanks for the update Brian, and if you want to donate to help them replace their gear, go to Paypal at PROTAGONISTSTOLENGEAR@GMAIL.COM.  Also check out my original post for the list of gear that was stolen, just in case you might see it somewhere out there.  I know it’s tough out there for touring bands, hang in there all of you and be safe, it’s a crazy world these days.