I guess this is what happens when private information gets in the hands of a college student.
According to our pals at the Consequence of Sound, “Jack White played a show at the McCasland Field House on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. During the performance, he publicly called out the university’s newspaper The Oklahoma Daily for its printing of his contract with the university as well as his tour rider.”
Nothing against The Oklahoma Daily, or the editor that let this one fall through the cracks. All things considered, Jack White and his team have an undoubted right to be pissed at The Oklahoma Daily, the University of Oklahoma student newspaper that leaked the confidential agreement.
Emily Sharp, a freshman journalism major at the University of Oklahoma, posted Jack White’s rider in this ‘article’ – which was published on their website just one night before White performed there.
While it’s admirable to see other people dedicated to “unfiltered” journalism, releasing the private information of an eight-time Grammy Award-winner isn’t called journalism. It’s just called stupid.
Transparency is the name of the game here at THESIXTHIRTY.com. But at times, in order to collect, gather and publish pressing information with long-term intentions, you have to maintain and value the important relationships you’ve established along the way.
Perhaps we’re the crazy ones, but “click-bait” and journalism are two very different things. And we will never unnecessarily publish private information at the obvious cost of gaining traffic.
If the disclosed information at your disposal is in some way damaging to an individual, group or even society as whole – then yes, that information should be released in the proper context. No questions asked. But when it comes to the private information of another artist or business, there’s a certain line you don’t cross.
On Sunday night, The Oklahoma Daily crossed that line when they published this article.
Universities across the country, big or small, invest massive amounts of money into hosting concerts or other culture-focused events. It’s not uncommon, it’s business.
At my alma mater, the University of Missouri, school officials opened their $75 million basketball stadium (Mizzou Arena) to country artists like Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts. And from what I know, it was only for the sake of bringing money back into the university.
On top of releasing Jack White’s rider with the University of Oklahoma, the student newspaper released the concert’s agreement in its entirety – financial terms included.
“White in the contract is guaranteed $80,000 versus the right to receive 90 percent of the amount earned from ticket sales, which have a net potential of a little over $147,000.
However, the show’s expenses are totaled at $40,500, includes catering, security, setting up the stage, ushers, ticket printing and staff. The most costly concert expense is advertising, which total $7,500.
After multiple calls and emails, members from Campus Activities Council, the group putting on the event, declined to comment.”
The paper has defended the publishing of said documents, citing its right under the Freedom of Information Act. But for the sake of time, we’ll save that discussion for another day.
In the days that followed, the University of Oklahoma was informed that it was banned from hosting any future Jack White performances. And almost more importantly, the university is banned from hosting any other artists represented by William Morris Entertainment.
Which, by the way, is one of the biggest talent agencies in the world.
Justin Timberlake, Deadmau5, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters and Drake are just a few of the artists that William Morris Entertainment represents. According to the agency’s statement:
The incidents with the OU Daily student newspaper reporting the financial terms of the show, the private tour rider information, along with unsolicited photographers from their staff were unfortunate, unprofessional, and very unwelcoming. The show was one of many on this tour directed at playing for university students in their own environment. And the band were all completely thrilled with the performance and the crowd.
Incidentally, the most important function of a rider is that it lays out optimal technical specifications to ensure the audience has the best experience possible. For that, Jack hires a team of very qualified touring professionals who write the rider and attempt to execute a professional and pleasant experience for all involved. Part of that is making sure that the tour personnel of about 30 people plus the local venue staff are fed. Contrary to what some believe, Jack doesn’t write the rider nor make demands about his favorite snacks that must be in his dressing room. We’re not even sure he likes guacamole but we do know that the folks who work hard to put on the show do enjoy it.
While many other voices have come to the defense of Oklahoma’s misconstrued idea of “freedom of information,” many who understand the music industry will not be as defensive of “free speech” in this particular case. That much I assure you.
Our staff has spent countless hours communicating with artist management, event promoters and even record labels to arrange interviews, gain media credentials or organize sponsored promotional agreements. And while doing so, we’ve come across more confidential information than I’m willing to admit.
A few months ago, I happened to come across one very popular artist’s rider. Not to mention, a breakdown of every single technical detail that goes into their extremely innovative live performance. This rider was without question more absurd, more ridiculous and more “click-worthy” than Jack White’s rider for the University of Oklahoma.
Had I shared that information, we would have likely received more traffic on that single article than any single article we’ve ever published in our music section. But had I shared that information – I would have not only ruined my relationship with the person that shared it with me (in confidence), I would have tarnished my credibility and trust with every manager, every promoter and every record label we’ve ever worked with.
Like every other profession, sometimes journalists have to play ball.
There are many plausible reasons why artists (and their management) put absurd requests in their rider. And if you know the music industry, you know that riders can have a lot more ridiculous demands than Jack White’s now famous guacamole recipe.
Sometimes, yes, it’s just for fun. But often times, it’s to test the concert producer and/or promoter.
The artist might want to measure their competence, or simply see if they paid attention to detail. If they go above and beyond expectations, the artist might prefer to work with them in the future. There’s a method to their madness, and more importantly – it’s beneficial for both sides.
Congratulations, you just passed Business 101.
Although Jack White’s career has certainly been tainted with oddities – the universally famous, critically-acclaimed rockstar has a right to be sour about this recent controversy.
This information was not pertinent for the public eye. It wasn’t revealing illegal activity. And it certainly as it damaging to an individual (or society as a whole).
Jack White might be a musician, but he just taught journalists everywhere a very valuable lesson.
“Just because you can type it on your computer doesn’t make it right.” – Jack White