It’s In The Contract, Clay

There has been a great deal of discussion recently about contracts in the recording industry.  Because it was announced that Clay Aiken chose not to renew his contract with RCA, there has been much speculation about what he can and cannot do or say.

None of Clay’s fans are privy to his contract details so any discussion is just a guessing game that will probably never be answered.  However, it is possible to look at contracts in a general way and get some concrete facts.

Some research was done to write this article.  More important than the reading done on the subject, was the opportunity I had to sit down with three attorneys and discuss “what ifs” with them.  It made for a very interesting evening.

When asked why there was no discussion from either RCA or Clay Aiken about the end of their contract, four different scenarios were mentioned.

First, it was suggested that the contract has not yet ended.  When there are large contracts that need to be renewed, the negotiations usually start about a year before the contract is void.  This gives enough time for back and forth discussions that need to be studied.  If there is a stalemate and the two sides cannot come to agreement, the parties will not step into a new contract.  However, the old contract is still in place until the end of the contracted time.

The second suggestion regarding the current silent time was a Confidentiality Agreement. Also known as a non-disclosure agreement, it is simply a contract between two or more parties where the subject of the agreement is a promise that information will be maintained in secrecy. These types of agreements are usually used in the technical fields and when inventions and plans are important to a company.  A non-disclosure agreement might be a part of the original contract or could be signed when the contract is not renewed.

The third suggestion from the lawyers was the one that they thought might be the correct one.  It is a “Cooling-Off” Clause.   This particular clause is usually agreed upon when the parties break off negotiations.  It is used when there is apt to be bad publicity for either side.

There is a big difference between a Confidentiality Agreement and a “Cooling-Off” clause.  In a Confidentiality Agreement, discussing the secrets of the company and/or the contract will not be discussed for many years, or never.  A “Cooling-Off” clause is a temporary time to allow the news and discontent to….cool off!  It almost sounds too casual to be a part of a contract, but I was told it is used often in many fields and certainly makes sense in this case.

The fourth and final suggestion was really quite simple.  Perhaps both sides in this contract dispute decided to take the high road.  Since both sides knew that this was a contentious subject that would cause much publicity and discussion, perhaps they decided to not get involved in the fray.  This suggestion did come with a lot of laughter and eye-rolling.

We also discussed Non-compete Agreements, sometimes called a covenant not to compete.  In this agreement, the employee agrees not to pursue the profession in competition against the employer.  Most jurisdictions where such contracts have been examined by the courts have found them to be legally binding.  However, the clause must have reasonable limitations on the timetable.  The courts say that an individual cannot be barred from carrying out a trade in which he has been trained.  This clause is very controversial. Some jurisdictions, such as the state of California, do not allow non-compete clauses at all.

Would this covenant not to compete be a part of Clay’s contract?  It was agreed that this is a possibility. However, it would only have a short life.  After all, artists change labels all the time and still continue in their chosen field.  However, since all of this is speculation, we don’t have the full answer.

It was suggested that one other agreement is probably a big part of any Artist’s contract.  It is an Exclusive Agreement Clause.  It would prevent the Artist from entering a similar recording agreement with another recording company.  When the contract is in force, it prevents conflicts when two companies attempt to  market the same artist.

After the termination of the recording agreement, the Artist will continue to be bound by the terms of the Exclusive Agreement Clause for a period of time.

It is important to realize that non-compete, non-disclosure agreements and Exclusive Agreement Clauses are not related in any way.  There can be one of these in a contract without the others, or all could be included or not.

Please remember that no one that was involved with this article knows any personal information about Clay or his contract.  This article was only meant as an overview of general contract information.  If nothing else, perhaps it will spur some thoughts and discussions.

All of us hope that this new step in Clay’s professional career is going smoothly and that we will hear something soon about his future in the recording industry.  Perhaps then, all the speculation about his contract will come to an end and we can just enjoy his wonderful voice.

Clay Aiken News Network is an unofficial fansite. We are not affiliated in any way with Clay Aiken or his management. This website was made by fans for fans and makes no impression or impersonation of the official site, which can be found under the domain

27 thoughts on “It’s In The Contract, Clay

  1. You guys sure put a lot of research in this, and thank you….

    It is true..we are not privy to anything that is in Clay basically guessing is all we can do…. Clay really does try to keep his personal things, whether it be business or personal, private…which is good.

    We will find out soon enough what avenue he has chosen as far as a label… and truthfully, I cannot wait. I just miss him, and want him singing again.


  2. Hopefully we will know very soon what is in Clay’s recording future! I have every faith in his talent and I’m sure we will be hearing his glorious voice for many years to come! I can’t wait!

  3. Very informative article.
    I too hope that soon Clay will share his future recording plans with us, till then I will wait.

  4. Thanks for doing your research into the possibilities of the contract. It appears there is no single way that all artists are treated and that each one has their own specific contract. It would also “appear” that some type of non-disclosure is the case with Clay and RCA since neither of them have said anything.

  5. The things we learn in the Clay Aiken fandom!! This article was very well thought out and answers many questions that come up. Interesting about the “cooling off” clause.

  6. Very interesting article. Thank you for the time and effort you put in to make this site informative.

  7. Clay Aiken is a good businessman and a gentleman. I’d think he’d want to be professional in his dealings with RCA. I hope he will soon be performing again.

  8. Very informative. Thanks for putting this together. I’m just hanging waiting for Clay to let us know what his music plans are.

  9. Very interesting.

    Whatever the cause and/or reasoning for ‘no news’ right now, I am waiting for the next good news that Clay Aiken will have for us.

    I’m right here waiting, Clay and can hardly wait to see what you have in store for us next!

  10. Whatever the outcome…I am just enjoying all of the good things coming up for Clay right now..his appearances on TV and The Glaad Awards. I am sure we will hear something from the man himself.

  11. Thanks for the wonderfully informative article. Wherever Clay Aiken goes next, his fans will surely follow!

  12. Thank you so much for this informative article. I had no idea that so many different contract stipulations could come into play. I have no doubt that Clay is in the midst of one of these now and therefore why he has not done any singing from any of his cd’s. I know we all want to hear him, but I know Clay will do something, say something as soon as he is legally allowed to do so. I miss him! I really appreciate your explanation of what appears to be a very complicated situation at times.

  13. I believe that when the time is right, and Clay or his publicist says what direction his label will be…he will just move forward with that….He will not put RCA down…he will just let it go… That is truly the smart thing to do…You don’t burn your bridges behind you.


  14. Thanks for all that, especially the “what ifs” from the attorneys. I’m being as patient as I can be, but do know we’ll get news when Clay is able to give it! Thanks again for a great site…

  15. Thanks so much for this informative article. You mentioned one scenario as being one where both parties decide to take the high road. That certainly sounds like Clay–he always takes the high road.

    Whatever the case is, I am just looking forward to hearing him sing again. And I want all the success in the world for that fine, young man!

  16. Thanks for the article. Clay Aiken is smart and he will share when the time is right. I hope it’s not too long, I need to hear him sing.

  17. This is one of the best, most level-headed, informative article I have read on this subject!!!! BRAVA!!!

  18. Thanks for the article, I too hope that soon Clay will share is future plans with us. I miss hearing him on the radio, so I really want that for him, and for the world to hear is glorious voice. Whatever comes next, I’m right here waiting for more!

  19. Thanks for all the work that you did in researching this article. It was really interesting and informative! Whatever Clay’s contract does say, I’m just looking forward to the next era (post-RCA) so that we can hear him SING again. His voice is so beautiful!

  20. Very interesting article. I have never heard of a “Cooling off” clause. I could have used one at one time or other. 😉

    I cannot wait to see what the future has for Clay. I know it is going to be fantastic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.