Apple Music wanted to rob artists like Taylor Swift robs photographers

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Taylor Swift criticized Apple for initially not paying artistst during the trial period for Apple Music.
Taylor Swift criticized Apple for initially not paying artistst during the trial period for Apple Music.
Photo: Wikipedia

Taylor Swift is a shrewd business woman and thought she was speaking for all the little artists when she told Apple to kiss off when it comes to featuring her album 1989 on its new music streaming service.

To not pay artists during Apple Music’s free three-month trial period is exploitive, the singer-songwriter suggested, not to mention “shocking” and “disappointing.”

So forgive music photographer Jason Sheldon if he is unable to Shake It Off and is bothered by the hypocrisy of her stance. Editorial photographers assigned to shoot her shows must sign away rights to their photos, preventing them from being paid while giving Swift unlimited use of the pictures for publicity and promotion.


It is kind of a moot point for musicians now that Apple announced Monday it would reverse its decision and pay artists during the trial period. Now that Apple has changed course, will Swift?

Sheldon, based in Birmingham, England, wrote an open letter to Swift, much like she did to Apple on Tumblr Sunday, that went viral. In it, he uses some of the same phrases she used in chiding Apple.

Here is a passage from Swift’s letter: “But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

From Sheldon: “With all due respect to you too, Taylor, you can do the right thing and change your photo policy. Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.

“Time to stop being ‘Mean.‘ ”

Freelance photographers, like Sheldon, get assignments and are paid a one-time fee that often doesn’t cover travel. They depend on being able to sell their photos to other clients as a way to make a living.

With the letter, which was first published on his blog Junction10, Sheldon posted a copy of the agreement photographers are forced to sign before being allowed to shoot during a performance.

Another photographer, Joel Goodman, Tweeted out an even more restrictive version of the contract, which states Swift’s people have the right to destroy your equipment if there is evidence the signed agreement is being violated.