An Australian point of view

Recently, I read a blog post from an Australian photographer named Justin Edwards:

He made a number of good points on why he doesn’t sign “rights grab” contracts, but the one point he made pretty much said it all.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it asked, but following on from “first three, no flash”, I’d say it’s extremely unlikely that anyone would be able to pinpoint the first time a photo release was used or the first time a copyright grabbing contract was used and who the bands were. Once there was no “three songs, no flash” rule, now it’s industry standard in all but the small, local shows.  Once there were no releases. Once there were no copyright grabbing contracts.  In the last couple of years there has been a noticeable increase in photo release contracts and an increased erosion of photographers’ rights.

So, this is the point- if people keep on signing these contracts, artists will keep on giving them out!

Even if people sign fake names, bands will escalate this practice until it is the norm in the industry. And…you can only sign a fake name so many times until you are caught. Then the whole business is over!!

Most artists and publicists think of photographers as third class citizens from the start- a bother that they have to put up with to get publicity for their smaller bands. Most arena bands don’t believe that they need people to photograph their shows, unless they are from a major paper or magazine, or a large photo agency

And now, ironically, large agencies, (because most photographers don’t bother to edit), are restricting photographers posting from large events to the assigned photographer only.

So the business of photographing live music is pretty much over. I still get several college students a month coming over to get advice on how to make it in my business. I used to have a standard response:

If you work your butt off, you have about a 25% chance of earning a living in the music business.

But today, I have a different response:

Even if you work your butt off seven days a week, you have absolutely no chance of ever earning a living shooting pictures of musicians!

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