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Taylor Swift Bashes Apple for Not Paying Artists, But Is She Screwing Over Photographers?

Published Jun 22nd, 2015 11:10AM EDT
Taylor Swift Apple Music Artists Royalties
Image: Billboard

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Taylor Swift beat Apple this weekend, as the artist convinced the company to change its Apple Music free trial policy with help of a simple blog post. However, it looks like Swift isn’t ready to apply the same business principles it asked for from Apple to other artists who are trying to make a living.

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In her Tumblr post to Apple, Swift advocated for artists’ rights to be paid for the music they make. Initially, Apple decided that during the free three-month Apple Music trial period it wouldn’t pay artists any money, though it quickly changed that stance after Taylor published her letter to Apple.

“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service,” Swift wrote. “I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

But one photographer who apparently worked with Swift in the past argues that the artist is basically hypocritical about the whole thing. Apparently, Swift treats photographers just as she hates being treated by Apple or Spotify.

“As a freelance photographer, I am asked to photograph concerts by publications. I get paid IF and when the photos are used, not for turning up to a show and shooting it,” photographer Jason Sheldon explained on his blog, referencing a contract photographers have to sign in order to cover Swift’s performances. “Therefore, if the newspaper has a bigger story to run and doesn’t have enough room to use my photo, I don’t get paid.”

The contract basically says that photographers aren’t allowed to sell the pics they take to more than one publication, and can’t even use the shots for portfolio purposes. Furthermore, Swift’s label retains the rights to the photos, even though they’re not paying for their use.

“When I’m not allowed to do anything else with the photos, that means I’ve incurred expenses to work, which I can’t recover,” he said. “Therefore preventing me from licensing my photos to more than one publication, or even (as later versions of this contract stipulate) preventing me from using the images for my own self promotion in a portfolio, while they can use them without licensing the usage, is highly unfair and unjustified.”

“You say in your letter that three months is a long time to go unpaid.  But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity. How are you any different to Apple?,” he continued.

“Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.”

“Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free,” he concluded, paraphrasing Swift, who told Apple that artists don’t ask for free iPhones from Apple, so Apple shouldn’t demand free music.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.