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MYM Talent Agency / Make Your Mark 2007

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smiley10000

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I was on my gmail account and this was one of the sponsored links down the side: Make your Mark

It sounds rather interesting and at first glance at the rules it seems legit... Anyone heard of it?

:Shrug:10000
 

PeeDee

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I generally ignore my Gmail links, because mostly they're recipes for things I can do with spam. I've never heard of this contest before, although it's very interesting. The prizes are pretty, although I haven't fifty bucks for the entry fee. The web-site is pretty too, but that's no basis for deciding if something is legit.

I guess I'm saying I have no idea.
 

JennaGlatzer

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Moving this to the Bewares and Background Checks board, where there are some fabulously knowledgeable folk who can advise. :)
 

victoriastrauss

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Did some digging. Found this press release.

The contest's website is registered to Meaghan McKaige, who appears to be a prominent businesswoman in the Seattle area. The company's president is Andrew McKaige--I presume he's her husband. I find references to him as an incorporation specialist. What do either of them have to do with the arts? Your guess is as good as mine.

The business profile of Ms. McKaige suggests that this is not a scam. Unfortunately, the website sure makes it look like one. There's no information about the sponsors--sure, they say they're "MYM Talent," but who the heck is that? There's no info other than the brief paragraph on the website--which, in its use of "unveil" and "inaugural," suggests that the agency doesn't actually exist yet. There's no info on where the money for the prizes is coming from. There's no info on who will be doing the judging, or even if there will be separate panels of judges for each competition (if not, how is a single panel going to be able to competently judge so many diverse categories?). There's a cheesy come-on pitch for the awards banquet--more than a year away at this point--limited tickets! Get yours now! Send us more money! And some of the categories are odd. For the Singer & Songwriter category, how can a recording compete with a lyric sheet? For Novel & Short Story, how can you judge these as a single category?

I would be VERY wary of entering a contest that gave me so little data--even if they didn't want me to pay a $50 entry fee (if you're a poet, that's PER POEM). Say what you will about the Sobol contest, right from the start there was a lot of info on its site about who was involved and what their credentials were. With this contest, there's nothing. The small amount of info I gleaned was gathered by looking up URLs and doing websearches.

Also, I understand that the sponsor of a contest like this needs contestants to grant certain rights so it can publicize winners without violating copyright laws, but this sentence from the contest rules makes me a little nervous: "At Sponsor's sole discretion, Submissions may or may not be published on Sponsor's website(s), telecast, broadcast or otherwise exploited by any means or manners (now or hereafter known) without any obligation to Participants except for such obligations explicitly set forth herein and in the Submission Terms." Could they, for instance, publish the winning novel without paying the author?

The description of MYM Talent, the mysterious organization that's running the contest, is depressingly familiar:
MYM Talent is a new kind of talent agency. Conceived as an online entertainment marketplace, the company will unveil its unique business model and inaugural roster of clients at the Make Your Mark 2007 Talent Competition Awards Gala, an event MYM Talent is hosting at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills on December 28, 2007. That night, a total of $2,250,000 will be awarded to 27 talented individuals from all over the world. We believe that the internet can be a powerful tool in unearthing the untold treasures of talent that exist all over the world that might otherwise never be discovered.
Unique business model. Untold treasures of talent. That might otherwise go undiscovered. In other words, it's yet another better mousetrap.

- Victoria
 

PeeDee

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Depressingly, I suppose there will be a fair share of people who will beat a path to their door. I don't think I'll be one of them. If they actually do televise this thing on E!, then I'll watch it with interest, but that's it.
 

JennaGlatzer

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I'm really flummoxed on this one. The prizes are huge, which normally means there's going to be weasel wording in the rules to make sure they don't actually have to award the prizes (e.g., "in the event that there are less than 6 zillion entries, the prize money will be reduced to $10," or "the sponsor reserves the right not to name a winner if they deem no entry is worthy")... but I don't see any. And why would E! care about televising the awards for a contest like this?

The entry fee thing is fine in some categories and not fine in others-- it's $50 across the board, which is pretty typical for a screenwriting contest (takes a long time to read all those scripts!), but ridiculously expensive for a poem or lyric sheet. And I noticed the same as Victoria about the strange category groupings.

What I wonder even more, though, is why we've not heard a word about this contest until now, when the deadline is only about 2 weeks away. Usually, something as big-budgeted as this is planned way in advance, and we see lots of buzz for it. I wonder if they're getting entries... and whether the entry fees were supposed to pay for the prize money. They'd need a heck of a lot of entries to pay back their $2.something million prize pot.

In conclusion... I have no "official verdict" on this. ;)
 

smiley10000

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Thanks Jenna for moving this.

And thanks Victoria for the research.

I wasn't planning on entering, (like PeeDee I don't have the $50). But I thought it may be interesting for others. I was also wondering how you could compare apples and oranges in one category (like the novel/short story).

Oh well, good luck to anyone that decides to try this one...
:Shrug:10000
 

PeeDee

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If it is a scam, then wouldn't it be as simple as contacting E! and seeing if they have any intention to broadcast anything related to this? I mean, I can put an E! logo on any web-site I want, doesn't mean E! even knows I exist.

Also, this seems rather a strange sort of contest to not only be televised, but also to be televised on a channel like E!. Celebrity Hairstyle Awards, maybe Celebrity Awesomely Bad BreakUp Love Songs, but E! spends remarkably little time doing short stories, novels, and so on.

I mean, what are they going to do? How do you make a contest like this into interesting television? I just can't see it.
 

victoriastrauss

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JennaGlatzer said:
I'm really flummoxed on this one. The prizes are huge, which normally means there's going to be weasel wording in the rules to make sure they don't actually have to award the prizes (e.g., "in the event that there are less than 6 zillion entries, the prize money will be reduced to $10," or "the sponsor reserves the right not to name a winner if they deem no entry is worthy")... but I don't see any.
Yes, I was looking for that too. The contest rules have a lot of disclaimers, but other than the sentence I quoted, nothing really bad jumped out at me (which is another thing that suggests this may be legit, or at least, done with not-dishonest intentions).
What I wonder even more, though, is why we've not heard a word about this contest until now, when the deadline is only about 2 weeks away. Usually, something as big-budgeted as this is planned way in advance, and we see lots of buzz for it.
Same here. That's one of the oddest things about this contest, IMO.

Another thing: the deadline is January 3, 2007, and according to the rules, winners will be notified some time in April. That's just over 3 months to do the judging, which strikes me as way too little time, especially if--as any contest should--they want to have as many entries as possible so it'll be truly competitive, and especially if there's a single panel of judges for all categories. For the World Fantasy Award, we received hundreds--not thousands--of entries, and it took us six months of hard work to evaluate them.

Things really don't add up here.

- Victoria
 

KCH

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All contests have a boatload of statutes an operator must comply with. In addition to federal law, each state has their own particular laws. Since this is on the web, they must comply with 50 separate sets of laws. Some states have laws stipulating that any contest offering a prize over a certain amount, they must register with the state and post a bond. Wonder if MYM has done that?

Since it's an international contest, they have to be compliance with each country's own statutes governing contests too. How many obscure and quirky laws would they have to cover themselves on? I sure wouldn't want to have to figure it all out from Haiti to Lichtenstein. (How'd you like to get on the wrong side of Ahmadinejad's Book of Contest Rules?)
 

PeeDee

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Are tickets available for the televised Awards Presentation?

Yes, but they go very, very fast. This year, the awards will be televised on E! and only 500 tickets have been set aside for sale to the public.

This gives the implication that there have been previous award presentations. Could this be a different contest, given a new name and a new set of sponsors? Barring that, I suppose I'll e-mail them tonight when I get home, see what other information I can garner. I still wouldn't be comfortable sending them anything, though, legit or not.
 

KCH

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Some interesting provisions from the official rules on their website:

Excerpt: (bolding mine)
>>
Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to modify, change, add to, delete, suspend or terminate these Official Rules, the "Make Your Mark 2007" competition, the Submission Guidelines, the Submission Terms, the Grand Prize and/or Finalist Prizes for any reason whatsoever without giving notice to Participants.

All Participants must check Sponsor's website regularly to determine if there have been any changes made to the Official Rules, "Make Your Mark 2007" competition, the Submission Guidelines, the Submission Terms or the Prizes.

End Excerpt

The official rules also have a provision allowing them to spread payments over 8 years.

Excerpt:
>>
Prize Guidelines:
Payment of Prizes will be made within sixty days of the certification and announcement of winners in each of the nine categories. Sponsor has sole discretion as to how funds are disbursed. Sponsor agrees that, if for tax reporting, tax accounting, estate planning, liability planning or for any other reason, Participant prefers not to receive prize in a lump sum but instead to receive Prize funds in 100 equal consecutive monthly payments, he/she may opt to do so, recognizing that interest will not be paid to Participant based on these funds. Therefore, Sponsor reserves the right to distribute payments on a consecutive basis.
_____________________________________________________________
To sum up: 1) They can change the rules midstream and it's up to the entrant to keep track 2) They can change the prize amounts. 3) They can decide not to award any prizes at all. 3) If they do award prizes, it could take 8 years to collect the whole amount
 

PeeDee

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I don't know anyone there, but I'm e-mailing them as we speak.
 

PeeDee

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My e-mail has been forward to the appropriate people, who shall respond to me As Soon As Possible. My e-mail, probably not going to win any awards for conciseness (certainly not in this contest!) will hopefully at least gain me some answers.

The problem is, the only site I could contact them through is E! Online, which is a seperate division from E! Network TV. I'm hoping they can at least point me in the right direction, because the E! TV corporate web-site didn't give a contact page unless you're an employee.
 

JennaGlatzer

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KCH said:
Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to modify, change, add to, delete, suspend or terminate these Official Rules, the "Make Your Mark 2007" competition, the Submission Guidelines, the Submission Terms, the Grand Prize and/or Finalist Prizes for any reason whatsoever without giving notice to Participants.

Thanks, KCH! I wonder if they just changed that in the last few days. I was specifically looking for wording like that. I did see the "we can change the rules" thing, but NOT a "we can change the prizes" or "we can terminate the contest" thing.
 

kristie911

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If it looks like a scam, smells like a scam and walks like a scam...well, I think you get the idea.

How can you change the rules mid contest? That seems like a bit much to me.
 

PeeDee

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Another part of their update is that unless I'm missing something, they're not mentioning E! Network or United Airlines anymore. Maybe my e-mail to E! did something...
 

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PeeDee said:
Another part of their update is that unless I'm missing something, they're not mentioning E! Network or United Airlines anymore. Maybe my e-mail to E! did something...
FWIW, "...broadcast on E!" is still big 'n' bold at the bottom of the main page.
 

PeeDee

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Yeah, someone pointed that out to me. I would note, however, that all of the sponsor logos are gone. The E! Logo, the United Airlines logo, and so forth.
 

Julie Worth

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Most worrisome, their rules suggest that they could publish an entry with any compensation to the author, even if the author doesn’t win.

From their website:

At Sponsor's sole discretion, Submissions may or may not be published on Sponsor's website(s), telecast, broadcast or otherwise exploited by any means or manners (now or hereafter known) without any obligation to Participants except for such obligations explicitly set forth herein and in the Submission Terms.




Edit: I now see that Victoria already mentioned this, where she wonders if MYM could publish the winning novel without paying the author. It seems that way. In fact, the way I read it, they could publish ALL of the entries if they wanted to, without any compensation. And they could hold all of the entries hostage, for what what publisher would want to buy a work if this organization has an independent right to publish it?
 
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The devil is in the details

Note the contest retains the right to use your name, likeness, biography, etc. for all time with no compensation for absolutely any use, including advertizing. I'm thinking a young person who becomes the next Tom Hanks (or Cruise) or Stephen King could prove very lucrative for this "Corporation", of course the future celebs themselves can never get a penny out of any endorsements.
 

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Just for fun, I checked their website. No surprise here:

Unfortunately, due to a lower than expected response, the Make Your Mark 2007 contest has been cancelled. All submissions will be returned to individual contestants and entry fees with be refunded in full no later than April 25, 2007 -MYM
 

Will Lavender

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Just for fun, I checked their website. No surprise here:

Unfortunately, due to a lower than expected response, the Make Your Mark 2007 contest has been cancelled. All submissions will be returned to individual contestants and entry fees with be refunded in full no later than April 25, 2007 -MYM

Weird. "Refunded in full..."

The date is funny. Tax scam?
 

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