Photographer’s Open Letter Response to Taylor Swift’s Open Letter to Apple

As you might have heard: Taylor Swift wrote an open letter addressed to Apple noting how that, despite having the utmost respect for the company that brought us the iPod, iTunes and hideous smart watches, she was concerned about Apple Music offering a free 3 month trial to entice potential customers to their new music streaming service.

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’s worry was not that Apple would be out of pocket during those 3 months but rather that the people who made the music would be left short-changed for the streaming of their songs during that period.

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.

She went on to emphasise that she wasn’t just speaking for herself but that her sentimenents would echo that of her peers, and the people affected the most would be emerging artists. Consequently, Swift pulled her recent album – 1989 – from the music streaming service.

Apple took note, changed their tune and made it clear that they will now pay artists for the streaming of their music, even during the free trial period. Now, Taylor Swift and Apple can Shake it Off and carry on a beautiful digital symbiotic relationship together, proving that they there’s no Bad Blood.

However, photographer Jason Sheldon has taken issue with Taylor Swift’s open letter in light of a concert authorisation form that he published on his blog:


He noted that points 2 and 3 in the contract appear to be a “complete rights grab” and “demands that you are granted free and umlimited use of our work”, referring to point #3, which allows Firefly Entertainment Inc the right to use the the photographer’s photos for non-commercial purposes; also saying that “you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again”, relating to point #2 in the contract.

Sheldon was keen to highlight that the contract was not a work-for-hire agreement but a contract that needs to be signed by freelance photographers working on assigment for publications before shooting at a concert.

Video: New York Daily News

It seems like his open letter is better directed at Firefly Entertainment Inc – Taylor Swift’s management company – for drawing up the contract, and other management companies with similar contracts, but who knows? Perhaps he thought no one would bother reading his views if he was attempting to take a company to task rather as opposed to the famous person in the middle of it all. Taking a company on is not that easy anyway, he isn’t Taylor Swift after all.

What are your thoughts on this topic?