Dear Biffy Clyro

To Whom It May Concern,

 
I read with dismay the post at : http://www.biffyclyro.com/news,biffy-clyro-tour-photographers_1775.htm where you are offering fans and “budding photographers” the chance to shoot the band from the photo pit and have their photos “featured” (“exploited”?) on the bands website and socials.
 
It is incredibly disappointing – not that you are offering the chance to ‘budding photographers’ – we all have to start somewhere, and this is a great opportunity for someone who is interested in becoming a professional concert photographer, but because of a number of reasons…
 
1.  Professional freelance or agency photographers are not allowed to shoot this tour..  This prevents people like me from earning a living, syndicating images to editorial outlets like regional and national newspapers via editorial agencies, or directly.  
It’s fair enough that the band are of course entitled to allow or restrict access to whoever they choose – but it’s a kick in the face when concert photography as a career already has the coffin lid closed, and actions like this are the final nail…
 
2.  What is the point of encouraging ‘budding photographers’ to shoot the band’s show on one hand when the door to a possible career is being shut in their face with the other hand, unless it is purely to exploit their work free of charge?  Why not hire a professional?  Naturally, budding photographers are more likely to allow free and unrestricted use of their images without even considering the fact they SHOULD be getting paid for their work. This willingness to work for the thrill of getting their photos published (without pay) makes it even harder for professional music photographers to license their work. 
There will come a point when the art of concert photography is lost, and the days of high quality imagery that adds value to YOUR BRAND will be long gone – replaced with cheap but meaningless snapshots of the artists unflattering gurning, microphones where their noses should be, and awkward looking poses with badly composed photographs that are unusable and unsuitable as quality editorial content to help increase page space in features and articles.  Professional photographers don’t just know when to click the shutter to capture iconic moments – they will know when NOT to press it, and what NOT to publish. 
 
3.  Fans in the pit…  Are they insured?  Do they know how to behave?  The pit is not a ‘photographer’ pit..  it’s a working environment where stewards and security also work, to ensure the safety of the crowd.  Professional photographers (should) know how to react in event of any emergency or any problems.  A fan is more likely to get in the way, cause an obstruction, or even stand there taking photos of someone being taken ill and being pulled over the barrier to be treated.  
 
 4. You ask for examples of the photographers work..  So, clearly there is an expectation of quality work.  Can you be clear on what rights the photographers will retain?  Will you be forcing them to assign all rights to the band?  Will they be free to syndicate their images? Will they understand or adhere to “editorial use only”? 
 
Freelance photographers are not parasites.  We are struggling to earn a living as it is, with newspapers making staff photographers redundant and having to rely on freelancers supplying them images – which we can’t supply when we are prevented access to the shows.  
 
PR companies are paid to help generate maximum exposure and coverage in the press, and to an extent keep things OUT of the press. Professional photographers are part of that machine..  Those clippings that your PR company keeps to show the value of their services to you – they contain our work..  when a picture is used, it massively increases the space on the page that would otherwise just contain a paragraph of text and, and the number of eyes that read the accompanying article/review is therefore greatly increased.
 
While it may not be the intention of your offer, the consequences of it are far reaching.  Please do give them consideration.
 
With kind regards,
 
Jason Sheldon

Coming in March: Madonnaland, and The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul

MJB

“title aside, nevertheless has a very dramatic cover).”

Thanks very much!

Losering Books

MadonnalandI’ve had a blast on the “Comin’ Right at Ya” promotional front this month, including a very nice event Wednesday night at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh that drew a kindly attentive full house. I read a bit, took questions and repeated some of Ray Benson’s jokes, which tend to be a lot funnier than my own jokes, so it worked out great. Of course, I also couldn’t let the crowd go without getting in a plug for Kristin Hersh’s “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt.” I even told them that if they could only buy one book, it should be that one instead of mine (sorry, Ray, but know that we sold plenty anyway).

Everyone in the University of Texas Press orbit is still pulling for “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” and the rest of our current titles to break out. Hope springs eternal, but pretty much all of that…

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Taylor Swift changes her photo release contract – let’s have a close look

I was on a short holiday with my family last week when I was alerted to a breaking story about Taylor Swift changing her contract..

Various people claiming “You’ve won, she’s backed down”, “Well done!” “Great to see her knocked down a peg or two”……  Well, let’s slow down a bit..

Firstly, it wouldn’t be great to see her “knocked down a peg or two” at all..  I don’t believe she has been knocked down a peg, nor does she deserve to be.  She had a bad contract in place which was highlighted due to her publicly criticising Apple for trying to enforce an egregious contract on her…
She said the right thing, at the right time.  Just under the wrong circumstances.

Continue reading Taylor Swift changes her photo release contract – let’s have a close look

Response to Taylor Swift’s agent

After my public response to Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple, I didn’t quite expect the phenomenal reaction it received.  I knew it was provocative, I knew it was going to be risky and could possibly harm my chances of getting access to other concerts in future..  but it needed to be said – out loud.  When I thought hard about the possible consequences, and restrictions on my access to future work, I asked myself “What point is there in going to work if I can’t be paid for it – yet everyone else gets to benefit from my labour?”.  The answer?

Continue reading Response to Taylor Swift’s agent

An open response to Taylor Swift’s rant against Apple

* Updated : Following a statement released by Taylor Swift’s UK agent, I have responded here*

Dear Taylor Swift,

I have read your open letter to Apple where you give your reasons for refusing to allow your album ‘1989′ to be included on their forthcoming Apple Music streaming service.  

(For reference: http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor)

I applaud it. It’s great to have someone with a huge following standing up for the rights of creative people and making a stand against the corporate behemoths who have so much power they can make or break someone’s career. 

Continue reading An open response to Taylor Swift’s rant against Apple

Ramblings and Rants of a Rock n Roll photographer