Season 2 of Songland features 12 rookie songwriters, all of whom are eager to showcase their most promising creations, initiate new collabs, and earn some much-deserved recognition.
In each episode, contestants present a song to the producers hosting the show, Ester Dean, Shane McAnally, and Ryan Tedder, and a guest star. Only one song makes the cut each week. So, what happens to the songs not chosen on Songland?
What happens to the songs not chosen on 'Songland'?
Akin to a music competition, Songland calls on budding songwriters, poets, and music aficionados to showcase their finest skills. The Season 2 premiere saw Ryan Innes, Tim Halperin, Madeline Merlo, and Steven Battey present their best songs to date with the hope of striking up a deal with Lady Antebellum.
After the first round of presentations, the members of Lady Antebellum announced that Ryan, Tim, and Madeline would make it to the next round. "Champagne Night," the song written by Madeline and produced by Shane, was chosen as the winner.
Winning songs are uploaded to Spotify each week, under the name of the guest star. Take "Champagne Night," currently available on Lady Antebellum's page, which is credited to Songland.
As to the less fortunate contestants? That's where the heated debate begins. In 2019, Songland sparked a new wave of controversy for its insistence on old-age industry models and its lack of support for individual songwriters.
However, some of these conversations date back way longer. In 2016, entertainment lawyer Wallace Collins called on prospective contestants to think twice before signing the application form — as this would have required them to sign over the copyrights to Songland.
As Wallace wrote in this blog post, every applicant was required to transfer their copyrights — regardless of whether they were selected on the show or not.
Pitchfork published a think piece assessing whether Songland offered a fair deal to creatives or not. New Yorker did the same. Reality Blurred ran an entire article on why the wording of the Songland application form mattered so much.
"NBC will own all rights to use and exploit all of your songs involved in the show including the songs you submit in the initial application … even if you do not get selected [...]," warned entertainment lawyer Wallace Collins in a blog post published in 2016.
"We wish to be abundantly clear that by signing the casting application, songwriters do not transfer ownership of any of their original songs. This show is truly a celebration of songwriters and their craft," executive producer Audrey Morrissey countered the accusations in a 2016 statement published by Billboard.
Some 'Songland' contestants chose to release their songs under their own name.
Season 1 contestant Max Embers decided to record and release his hit tune, "Lookin' Up" under his own name — as opposed to trying to sell it to a pop star. Ollie Gabriel did the same with "Something New."
However, it's perhaps worth noting that both of these songs were credited to Songland.
In theory, every Songland contestant should be able to sell their songs — whether they performed it on the show or not — to other singers. Judging by how Season 1 songwriters approached this dilemma, this may or may not be the case.
Catch new episodes of Songland every Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.