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Controversy rises over Hard Rock Rising rule regarding eligibility of Tampa Band

2014 Hard Rock Rising competition
2014 Hard Rock Rising competition
Hard Rock International

TAMPA - Nine Tampa Bay acts have been chosen to compete in this years Tampa Bay regional’s of the “2014 Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands competition. The winner of this years regional competition will advance to the National competition for a chance to perform at the “Hard Rock Live Rome music festival” on July 12th in Rome Italy. The nine acts who made it to this years Tampa Bay regional’s include Undercover Betty, Forgiving Silence, On the Avenue, Ybless, Break This Curse, Tidal Wave, Johnnie Stash, the John Clark Band, and Seven Years Past.

Some controversy and confusion has arisen over the eligibility of one of the nine acts in the competition, Seven Years Past. Both the St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene Column and the Tampa Hard Rock Café have received several complaints from individuals stating that, according the competition rules, Seven Years Past is ineligible to compete in this years “Hard Rock Rising” Competition due to them winning the Tampa Bay regional’s three years ago in 2011.

According to the official 2014 Hard Rock Rising competition Rules for both band and band member eligibility, it appears that the complaints are merited and Seven Years Past is in fact ineligible to compete in this years competition.

The following are the official 2014 Hard Rock Rising Rules for competition eligibility:

a) Band Member eligibility: In order to be eligible to compete in the Contest, win any prize or participate in the Grand Prize Performance, each Band Member must at all times from the date each Band submits its Entry Form in full compliance with these Official Rules and becomes a Band entrant in this Contest, up through the conclusion of the Grand Prize Performance:

viii) Not served as a band member in a band that has performed at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London or won any prizes as a result of participating in any of Sponsor’s previous Battle of the Bands contests in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.

b) Band eligibility: In order to be eligible to compete in the Contest, win any prize or participate in the Grand Prize Performance, each Band must at all times from the date each Band submits its Entry Form in full compliance with these Official Rules and becomes a Band entrant in this Contest, up through the conclusion of the Grand Prize Performance:

vi) Not have performed at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London or won any prizes as a result of participating in any of Sponsor’s previous Battle of the Bands contests in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.

A Public Relations representative from the Tampa Hard Rock Café contacted the St. Petersburg Live Music Bar Scene column regarding this matter. According the representative, Seven Years Past is eligible to compete in the competition. The representative went on to say that the rules are being misinterpreted by those complaining. The representative continued by saying that the rules mean that a band is ineligible only if they performed at the actual Hard Rock Calling Festival in London during the years of 2009 - 2013.

Special Events and Promotions Coordinator for the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, Emily Bringer, sent the following response via email:

“We have verified with HRI and they are in fact not in violation of any of the official rules. The excerpt from the official rules that you included below applies only to the global portion of the competition, and as they did not advance beyond being the local battle winners, they are still eligible to compete.” - Emily Bringer, Special Events and Promotions Coordinator for the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Both of the previous responses appear to be in direct contradiction to what the actual verbiage of the rules state...

“... Not have performed at the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London or won any prizes as a result of participating in any of Sponsor’s previous Battle of the Bands contests in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.”

If Hard Rock International truly intended for a band or band members to be ineligible only if they won the finals of a previous Hard Rock Rising competition, then the verbiage of the official rules need to be re-written in order to convey that very intention. As the rules are written now, it appears that no band is eligible if they won any prizes in any of the previous competitions, not just the finals.

Some of those who have made complaints state that the complaints have nothing to do with Seven Years Past. They state that the complaints are against the Hard Rock Café and their apparent willingness to disregard their own rules. One of the individuals who made an official complaint had the following to say...

“There are other bands that finished just out of the top 9 that deserve this spot. there are also other acts that did not choose to enter this competition due to the fact that they had been in previous Hard rock events and felt that they were not eligible to do so.”

They continue...

“7 Years Past would also have an unfair advantage over the other eight acts because they have been through this competition and know what is expected due to this past experience and having played at the Hard Rock previously.”

One of the musicians who entered the competition is considering possible legal action towards the Tampa Hard Rock Café and/or Hard Rock International. The musician states that they believe it’s a matter of “Breach of Contract” since all the bands competing had to sign a contract with the Hard Rock, and the Hard Rock is now breaking one of their own rules that is included in the contract.

As of publication of this article, Seven Years Past remains in the competition with the Hard Rock standing by their statement that no rules have been broken.

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