Music Photographers and Concert Contracts
As a freelance photojournalist, I have a passion for news. Most of my photography centers around daily news and events, including but not limited to performances, parades, ceremonies and the-like. On less frequent occasion I also shoot political and documentary images, and for leisure I practice urban scape photography with a current interest in Dallas, Texas.
But part of my affiliation with daily news, as I said, is to photograph performances, which includes concerts, burlesque, comedians, and the list goes on. While although these ‘niches’ or, genres, do technically and are appropriately categorized in my line of work, it is rare (by the nature of historical fact) for me to photograph famous artists and large concerts, and here’s why:
As most music photographers are familiar – if even this field of photography still exists – most contracts for most artists are absolutely bogus. Take for example the most recent concert I photographed here in Dallas, Coldplay, on Friday, June 22nd. I had requested the assignment from my editor months before Coldplay came to town, and my editor graciously gave me consent to do so. The publication was cleared for access, and everything seemed great; then the contract. Coldplay’s current contract, as of late 2011, stipulates that not only do you lose your copyright as the photographer, but you also grant full reproduction and ownership rights to Coldplay to reproduce indefinitely throughout the world. Further, the images can not be reproduced outside of the publication they were cleared to appear in, and any litigation allegations shall be represented in the judicial courts of London and Wales.
Lady Gaga, the last concert I photographed before Coldplay, had a similar contract, and Nicki Minaj, who I’ll photograph on July 29th, will probably also have a similar contract. So I’m curious, what are all the other music photographers doing?
Understand that I’m not looking to profit off of these artists, but I would like to reproduce the images in my own portfolio to highlight my capabilities and competency as as a practicing professional. What’s more; I find it ironic that the music industry marches with this flag of advocacy, suing anyone they can who’s found guilty of violating music copyright laws, but when it comes to my art as a photographer – and my copyrights – it’s as if somehow things are reversed, that the music industry is the entity stealing from me.
How do you feel about concert contracts, the music industry, and copyright violation? Post your comments below.