- BennyModerator@bennyJoin Date: 2002Post Count: 1,416
Wow – I hadn’t heard of Van Halen’s “Brown M&M’s” clause in their contracts before today (where have I been all these years?) and I started to read of this deal-breaker (finding a single brown M&M in the bowl would have Van Halen call off a performance) with a wry smile. My first reaction was “What kind of request is that? A rockstar group going over the top with their demands?” Well, I was dead wrong with that reaction.
Reading on, it didn’t take too much longer before I realised just how SAGE this group was.
Yes, for sure, M&M’s would be made available for the band by the promoter – but finding just one brown one would have the rock group pull up stumps and walk, leaving the promoter to face the “music” of returning money to the fans. They could lose HEAPS over such an indiscretion.
Van Halen had produced the “brown M&M” clause to be their canary in the coal mine. Put simply, if the promoter did not pay sufficient attention to EVERY clause of the contract, then those clauses that dealt with safety issues might similarly be overlooked, or be given scant attention. This could lead to equipment damage, and even injury or death to the band members.
What a genius! “Pay attention to ALL of the clauses or don’t hire us” is what Van Halen were saying. This was Van Halen’s way of testing to see if the promoter was on top of things. That notorious “brown M&M” clause included wording that said (in more legal terms) “If you get this wrong, we will walk, and you will still pay us our fee for bringing all our gear, but, by not meeting all of our stipulations, you have made it impossible for us to perform”…. or words to that effect.
OK, great story – and, as I said, a very sage move by the band.
They went on to say (in Snopes, here – http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/vanhalen.asp ) :-
Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.
OK, so brown M&M’s got an un-deserved bad rap !! :p But what can the story teach us?
Simply that, if we are looking to put together a team, wouldn’t it make sense to “add a few conditions” just to see if your (soon-to-be) adviser can follow simple instructions AND ACT UPON THEM DUTIFULLY at pain of losing you because of their indifference?
Maybe not “no brown M&M’s”, but more like “I need you to meet with me at date/time x, and bring with you information y so that we might discuss z”. Then judge – can they follow instructions, and, if unable to meet, do they contact you back and articulate that well and provide you with an alternative that suits you? i.e. DO they communicate, or do they just “say anything to get you on board” then let you down?
Food for thought – and yes – brown M&M are allowed :p