ASMP Advocacy Alert: Band Contracts

July 21, 2015: Taylor Swift Modifies Agreement

We are pleased to report that our efforts with NPPA and 13 other news and professional organizations have borne fruit. Taylor Swift’s PR firm announced yesterday that they would be adopting a new photography agreement for her 1989 World Tour. While the new agreement still contains some restrictions, it represents an important first step towards a more fair and balanced relationship between musicians and professional photographers.


“The amendment of the 1989 World Tour photography agreement by Taylor Swift and her PR team tacitly acknowledges the value of professional photography and the press in shaping public perceptions,” notes ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy, “Clearly, photographers are equally deserving of respect and have the same need to monetize their work as musicians. To that end, we will continue to speak out against overly restrictive contracts and work in collaboration with other stakeholders to foster the adoption of fair, balanced and mutually beneficial agreements between the photographers who document our culture and the musicians who help create it.”


Click here to read an article on Poynter, which includes the text of the new Taylor Swift agreement.


July 14, 2015: ASMP, NPPA Work Together to Improve Band Contracts

ASMP has joined forces with NPPA to address this issue. NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher has had meaningful conversations with Taylor Swift’s P.R. firm. ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy is working with Osterreicher on a joint letter outlining our position and concerns. We hope to see beneficial changes as a result of this dialog. We will update this page when we have more to report. In the meantime, we encourage you to respond to our Call to Action below.


July 13, 2015: Publishers in Canada Take a Stand

Today, Petapixel reported that the Quebec newspaper, Le Soleil, opted to have a cartoon sketch artist to cover a Foo Fighter’s concert this past weekend rather than sign the band’s onerous photography contract. Read the article here.


According to the Huffington Post, a few days prior to Le Soleil’s decision, Montreal photographers with the Gazette, La Presse, Le Devoir, Le Journal de Montreal, Métro, and 24 Hours declined to cover Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour concert stop rather than sign her contract. Click here for more.


July 9, 2015: ASMP Call to Action

ASMP is collecting examples of photography contracts used throughout the music industry to form the basis for a cohesive advocacy effort within this arena. We seek examples containing with terms that are favorable to photographers as well as those with unfavorable terms. If you have kept copies of contracts sent to you by bands, management teams, labels, venues, etc. – whether you have chosen to sign them or not – please send a PDF copy to


NOTE: ASMP will make every effort to keep all submissions anonymous and and will redact any details likely to enable identification of the submitter.


Band Contracts Advocacy Effort

Taylor Swift’s June 21, 2015 Open Letter to Apple, prompted photographer Jason Sheldon to publish an open letter of his own, lambasting Swift for the terms her management team requires professional photographers to accept. Click here to read the contract used by Taylor Swift’s promotional company. You can read Sheldon’s original open letter here and see his response to her spokesperson’s rebuttal here.


ASMP promptly reached out to Firefly Entertainment, Swift’s management team, and others to discuss an improvement in terms.


The issue continues to gain traction as publications such as the Irish Times, which published an editorial outlining why they had no photographic coverage of Swift’s June 29 concert, deem the contract “…’too restrictive’ for a working newspaper-and-website.”


Other band contracts are coming under similar scrutiny by photographers and publishers alike. On July 2nd, the Washington City Paper published an article about its decision to forego photographic coverage of the Foo Fighters concert in response to their rights grabbing contract. Other performers, such as Kid Rock use similarly restrictive contracts.


ASMP is deeply disturbed by this trend in music and celebrity photography contracts. ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy notes:


“I applaud the principled stance being taken by The Washington City Paper and other publications in refusing to accept these terms as the quid pro quo for permitted concert coverage. I find it very disheartening that another group of independent artists doesn’t recognize how their own contracts are adversely impacting a fellow artistic community.


I think the only rational response is to recognize that this is symptomatic of the larger issue: namely that the intent of copyright to protect and support the creative work of independent individual creators is routinely subverted and undermined by contract terms found in many photo contracts. The only rational response, in my opinion, is to eschew the work and reject the assignments, while continuing to look for ways to change the contract terms and dynamics of the interactions by explaining the negative impacts to clients and the public alike.


By choosing to seek onerous terms, the musicians are actually undermining their own case for support from the public and promoting a double standard that is very hypocritical, and that in turn makes their brand far less credible when they cry foul about music piracy.


Taken to the ultimate extreme this could have a very chilling effect on the capacity of professional photographers to provide contributions to our cultural heritage and the visual history of our times. Society cannot depend on the contributions of amateurs alone to address those outcomes of conscious visual image creation.”


We will continue to reach out to musicians in the hopes of reaching a fair solution that balances their need to protect their likeness with the needs of photographers to secure fair compensation for their work.