Hey Jon Stewart, remember when you were a struggling comedian working the clubs of NYC? Remember when that famous comic (insert name here) came up to you after one of your shows and said “Hey kid, you’re real funny. I have a deal for you, how about you write jokes for me that I can use at my upcoming shows. I get to use these jokes however I please. I’m not, of course going to credit you. Oh and you’re not getting paid. But hey, you get the satisfaction that you wrote jokes for me! How bout it?”
Seems absurd right? No comic in their right mind would take this deal. But for some reason the producers at The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart podcast thought it would be a good idea to trick musicians into taking this exact same kind of deal. They thought they could get enough naive, desperate musicians to submit their original take of the The Daily Show theme song to use at the end of the podcast episodes.
Well, unfortunately, they were right. For 7 episodes they have been using musicians’ works without compensation (or much credit). As the terms of service on the submission form state:
“I agree that I will not be entitled to any compensation or any other consideration…”
The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart podcast series began last August and they have been promoting this “contest” on nearly every episode ever since.
Now, I get it, they could just use the standard theme as outro music (as they do for the intros). I know, they think they’re helping their independent, struggling musician listening audience out by giving them a chance. Aw shucks.
So why not ACTUALLY give them a chance? Give them a serious incentive! Why not, ask musicians to arrange the outro music and then choose one artist to fly out to NYC to perform on The Daily Show. Now THAT is a contest I would sign up for. This is what NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert did. Sure, you can still feature some of your favorites every week as an added bonus – leading up to the actual announcement.
What irks me most is the podcast’s producers and hosts think that they are actually helping musicians. I listened to a few of these podcasts and the hosts zip through the musician’s name (when they actually say it) so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to catch and even if you did catch it good luck remembering the name or figuring out how to spell it. There are no links in the Podcast app (how most listen to these episodes). They do, however, include one link on the Daily Show podcast website to the artist’s original song on SoundCloud, but taking a quick glimpse at the “winners” SoundCloud profiles, it seems no actual human listeners click this link as none of the “winning” musicians have gained many followers (the very first “winner” from the 2nd episode back in September 2014 has a whomping 11 SoundCloud followers – really great exposure guys!).
And, for you music biz nuts out there wondering if these artists would get paid in royalties. The answer is no. Because it’s not an original composition, the PROs and Harry Fox have nothing to do with this. And because it’s not a digital radio station, SoundExchange has nothing to do with this. Because the only thing the artists technically own is the sound recording (not the composition), there are no legal royalties owed to them through public performance. Technically the only way the artist could get paid is by negotiating the license fee (which the terms of this contract state are non-negotiable. And payment is zero).
If you actually are in need of some great outro music, then why not run this contest and pay the winners! It doesn’t have to be much. Say, $2,000. Oh, you think that’s high? You probably don’t realize how many hours went into the creation of the 30 second outro. Or how much the recording program costs. Or the midi keyboard they used to compose on. Or the microphones, outboard gear, audio interface, guitars, or plugins. How about the years of study and rehearsal? Music lessons. College tuition. Studio space. The list is endless. You don’t have this money to pay? Really? One of the biggest cable TV shows of the last decade doesn’t have a couple thousand a month to pay musicians? Or Jon, how about write some fellow artists a check yourself? We know you could afford this. To Jon’s credit, he doesn’t seem to have much to do with this podcast. After all it is called “The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart.”
I don’t hate you Daily Show producers and correspondents. I love you. I watch your show online every morning over oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and coffee. It’s my morning ritual. But just like you tell Obama, Hillary, McConnell, Pelosi, Boehner, CNBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Anti-vaccinators, climate-change deniers, Medicare Republicans, Wayne The-Only-Thing-That-Stops-A-Bad-Guy-With-A-Gun-Is-A-Good-Guy-With-A-Gun Lapierre when they done f*cked up. I’m now telling you. You done f*cked up this time.