- Report: #1159840
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Ohio Idol
Ohio Idol/In Tune Promotions Statewide Vocal Competition Little More than a Scam Perpetrated Against Singing Hopefuls Mt. Vernon Ohio
*Author of original report: Ohio Idol Shut Down!
*Author of original report: A Mess From the Start
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The Ohio Idol vocal competition is a statewide search for the best singers in Ohio. At least on paper. In execution, at least in my experience, it's little more than a scam that takes advantage of aspiring vocalists.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not some wannabe star who was dismissed and is now seeking revenge. It was my wife who entered the competition, and made it to the Top 25. She then dropped out, dissuaded by this company's dishonesty and lack of integrity.
The first red flag occurred before the competition even began. Contestants are subjected to a $25 registration fee, which is relatively standard and understandable. Originally, the audition process was to take place three consecutive weeks in three separate locations throughout Ohio: The first week (which I believe was the last week in May) was in Lakewood, OH, the second one was a venue in Columbus, OH, and the third week was a venue in Dayton, OH. However, three days before the Columbus auditions began, an email was sent to us explaining that the rest of the auditions would be online only. We thought it was odd that there was a cancelation on such short notice, but went along with it anyway.
To sum up this process, my wife sent in a video and was informed she made it to the main competition, so she was in the Top 100. Following this, she was to make a second video (or she could reuse the first one), which would then be voted on by members of the public. About three days (maybe less) before voting began, we learned that each vote would cost $1, something that was NEVER mentioned prior to this stage, but that votes would be unlimited (why put a cap how much money you can make?). The Top 25 based on votes would automatically make it, but the judges would also be selecting "Wild Cards" out of the people that did not make it based on vote count.
My wife had 201 votes ($201 going straight to Ohio Idol), which put her at 20th, and on into the Round of 25. But what was really unclear was what the next phase was going to be, as the website only said this:
"The next round:
JULY 6th 2014 at 1:00 pm (Venue in Central Ohio) NOT Red White & Boom!
Finale: AUGUST 8th 2014 at 9:00 pm (Venue in Central Ohio) The Finale will NOT be at This years Ohio State Fair."
The specification of NOT at these venues was necessary because the website, which had not been updated since last year's competition, still listed last year's dates up until a week before the round of 25 was to begin. Anyway, voting ended on July 4th at midnight. As you can see above, July 6th was the first actual LIVE performance. So on July 5th, at about 1 p.m., my wife received a call with instructions for the next round: She was to be in Mansfield, OH tomorrow (July 6th) at 1 p.m. She could arrive for free, but all supporters had to pay a $10 charge. On top of the 25 that had made it through to this round, an additional 25, who were selected by Ohio Idol judges themselves through Youtube clips and live shows, would also be performing, bringing the number to 50. These people, to my knowledge, didn't have to pay a registration fee, and I'm sure were notified well in advance as to the location and venue. She had to stay ALL DAY through all performances, because she had to be there in case she made it to the next round. And if she did make it to the next round (the Top 10), she would need to be in Mansfield ALL DAY Wednesday to rehearse with other contestants for a show the following weekend.
Now there are many things wrong with this. For starters, I live in Central Ohio. Mansfield is 90 minutes Northeast, so the promise that it would be a "venue in Central Ohio" was terribly incorrect. The only dates we were given were the July 6th and August 8th mentioned above, so we had no way of knowing to take off Wednesday or the weekend of July 12th (which we will be out of town for). We were never notified of the $10 charge just to watch the auditions until literally a day before. And about the 25 new contestants? Well, the website clearly said they would be adding FIVE new competitors. Not 25. And as stated before, since they were hand-picked by Ohio Idol (under terms never specified), I guarantee they were notified and already knew of the venue, whereas the TRUE contestants, like my wife, only had 24 hours' notice to pick out a song and get prepared for a live show.
But why would they care? By adding 25 new people to the existing 25, they already had $230 (including votes and registration fee) from us and our family's, as well as a body to replace her for the competition! Sounds like a win-win on their end to me!
Now this is already shady business, but what makes it even more bizarre is the absolute lack of transparency throughout this whole process. Updates were always at least 10 hours later than they said they would be, giving this whole thing an improvised feel. The judges on the website haven't been updated since 2012, so no one even knows who is watching the videos; all updates are issued either on the website or Facebook page. No details were ever posted about the Mansfield venue, with them mentioning in a Facebook post (since removed) that all top 25 contestants had to be reached by phone. Sure enough, when I posted that it was in Mansfield, and that supporters would cost $10, my posts were deleted and I was BLOCKED from commenting on their Facebook page. Why wouldn't they want public support?
Assuming the website information is correct, another alarming aspect is the competition's sponsor, which is none other than John Casablanca's, a business that describes themselves as a modeling agency. Why is this a big deal? My wife was approached by one of their representatives at least three years ago, and naturally looked into it. As it turns out, you have to take, regardless of experience, a five-week modeling course, and pay the tuition up front. Tuition that's around $3,000. Even worse, after my wife told them she wasn't interested, they still call her and send her emails TO THIS DAY. Three years later. We know what kinds of offers are awaiting the top 10 contestants!
The event's CEO, one Steve Wise, has no website or way to contact. Sure enough his "In Tune Promotions" (DBA Ohio Idol) has an "F" according to the BBB. His LinkedIn profile also shows that, on top of being Ohio Idol CEO, his only other (current) job is National Trainer for Automax. He probably has a lot of musical connections with that career.
In short, the lack of transparency, along with very quick notification times and sudden charges, make this look like a textbook scam. The company's lack of history (and contact info), along with an "F" on the BBB, only heighten those possibilities. The couple messages we sent (inquring as to who the judges are), went unanswered. The lack of integrity on the actual competition front (such as adding five times as many competitors as originally promised, and giving updates way later than promised, leading to even shorter deadlines) is also a kick-in-the-teeth to those that have worked hard and relied on other people's money to get to where they got.
Audition at your own risk.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/06/2014 07:09 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Ohio-Idol/nationwide/Ohio-IdolIn-Tune-Promotions-Statewide-Vocal-Competition-Little-More-than-a-Scam-Perpetra-1159840. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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