I don’t think any aspect of the entertainment industry scares me more than the legal part. It’s simple enough to create work and then sell it, but in order to make the best work possible, you have to work with other people. And naturally, if you’re working with other people, you have to make agreements, and expect the other parties to stay true to those agreements. Unfortunately, it seems whenever I look up, I see such agreements falling apart.
Near the end of 2012, YouTube’s most famous star, Ray William Johnson announced he was leaving his network, Maker Studios. Eight months before his contract expiration, he was asked to renegotiate the terms of his contract. Maker wanted 40% of his Google Adsense revenue and 50% of the show’s intellectual property indefinitely. Eventually Maker said they would shut down the production of his album, leading to his decision to leave the company.
In 2009, three members of Korean pop group TVXQ began a feud with their label, SM Entertainment, and the lawsuit didn’t end until the end of 2012. The three members, now under a different label as JYJ, filed their case against SM because they felt their thirteen-year contract was a “slave contract.” Though Korean court allowed the three to continue activities, the Korean entertainment industry banned JYJ from public media appearances. As of November 2012, the two parties have reached a settlement and the JYJ ban is over.
It would appear that contract disputes in Korean pop are not unusual. Just this month, Block B filed a request to terminate their exclusive contract with their label, Stardom. Apparently, they’ve faced troubles similar to TVXQ’s. It’s reported that Stardom has failed to meet the obligations outlined in their contract, including but not limited to denying the group their fair pay. Since this story is brand new, hot off the press, there has not yet been anything close to a resolution.
Stories like the above are not unusual. Contracts must be taken very seriously and written very carefully. I plan to take very special care of the human relationships within my YouTube channel by preparing very structured, fair, clear, and sensitive contracts.