As tens of thousands of people from all over the world prepare to embark on Austin for South by Southwest, more than 50 artists say they're outraged over South By Southwest's contract.
This comes after one musician said he was pulling out of the conference because he was upset over a clause in his contract.
Told Slant said on Twitter that after looking at his contract, he decided to cancel his performance at SXSW. He posted a photo of a portion of the contract that said the conference reserves the right to alert U.S. immigration authorities about international artists if they violate their performance agreement.
After looking through this contract sent to me by sxsw I have decided to cancel Told Slant's performance at the festival pic.twitter.com/rI2Xv0duJl— Told Slant (@Felixixix666) March 2, 2017
"This goes into a wacky extreme that I've never seen," said entertainment lawyer Brian Goldstein.
Goldstein said he has been working with international musicians, actors and live performers for more than 20 years and regularly looks over performing contracts for his clients.
"We're particularly known for international touring," Goldstein said. "That's something that we've sort of been at the forefront of for a long time. What's typical is, whether it's an opera company or an orchestra, to put something in the contract that says you're responsible for making sure you get your visa and you're legally authorized to perform and if we discover that you're not authorized we have the right to cancel the show with no damages. If they find out they have an illegal, they get rid of them. It's very rare, especially in the arts, that you say 'and we're going to rat you out.'"
SXSW released a statement saying the conference takes a public stance against President Trump's travel ban and Senate Bill 6. The release goes on to say the conference has never reported anyone to immigration authorities and that the clause has been in the contract since 2013.
"I think this is typical of a lot of organizations where the artistic administration has no idea what's in their own agreements," Goldstein said. "This was probably drafted by some corporate attorney that has no idea what they were talking about and no one has paid attention until now because everyone is up in arms, understandably, about the current immigration situation"
While it appears there will be no change to this year's artist contract, a SXSW representative said they will be reviewing it and amending it for 2018 and beyond.
Goldstein advises international artists to look at some of the websites, like artistsfromabroad.org and afm.org that give information and advice on contracts before signing one.