I’ve been involved in the music industry in one way shape or form for the last 10 years and one thing that continues to surprise me is the shocking two sides that this industry has. I’ve always known it exists but until recently it’s never really affected me directly.We’re always hearing over and over how bad it is to pirate, or steal music off of the internet. I have absolutely no issues with that and support the anti-piracy movement 100%. There’s a cost to producing the music and god forbid the executives at the record labels don’t get their big pay check…we all know they do regardless of how much music their artists sell in the end it’s always the artists that lose out if sales fall short.
For an artist this industry can be extremely frustrating and stressful, especially in the early stages of their career. The labels set sales expectations and god forbid they aren’t met because if that happens an artists relationship with the label will go sour very quickly…even if the downturn in sales was because of a bad decision by the label…again it’s the artist that pays the price.
But in this week’s #MondayMusings I want to explore a bit more of what it’s like being media in this dog eat dog world. Our, self-proclaimed job, is to promote the artists and the events that put those artists on the stage. We have photographers that spend their hard earned money, often from their hard-working day jobs, to buy expensive camera equipment. Every single one of the photographers, and writers, we have on staff at Sound Check Entertainment does what they do for the love of music and their craft…we get paid nothing…not a dime. You might say that we get to cover a lot of shows…this is true, however, 90% of these shows we only get notice a day or two in advance as to whether or not we’re actually approved to cover the show. Sometimes we don’t even find out until mere hours before showtime…still think it’s glorious? For example when AC/DC came to Ottawa recently we found out at 4pm the day of the show that we had been denied accreditation. For me that’s just an inconvenience but from a photographer’s perspective, especially the ones that do it for a living like Sean Sisk, it’s a day that they’ve lost where they would have scheduled a paying gig.
This week I want to focus on the photos that are taken when we do get access to a show. Photographers are entitled to shoot, usually, the first 3 songs from each act. Now even though they aren’t getting paid to shoot the show for Sound Check Entertainment they have the opportunity to sell their photos after the fact. When we post photos that have been taken at a show we always include at least one watermark, the SCE logo and in many cases the photographers logo. Those are like a signature that show that the photograph was taken by us and is our property. We love to see artists and encourage them to share them far and wide…as long as the watermarks are left in place. If an artist, or a label likes a certain photo enough they usually reach out to us and we can arrange for them to purchase the photo from the photographer. Once in awhile an artist or a label, or anyone really, will come across one of our pictures and crop off the watermarks and share it…we’ve seen this happen several times but how many times has it happened where we didn’t catch it? Plain and simple this is just as much piracy as me going on the internet and downloading an artists’ music. What harm is there in giving credit where credit is due? Unlike some agencies, our watermarks are small and subtle and don’t take away from the image itself. Leaving them in place will not just support SCE it will also showcase the product of our talented photographers around the world.
More recently we ran into a different scenario that no photographer or journalist ever thinks they’ll run into…but after a recent show one of our photographers was actually raked over the coals because one of his photos was too good…yes you read that correctly. In other words it was better quality than the tour’s staff photographer and they didn’t like that forcing both our photographer and the venue into damage control to assure the artist’s management that the photo was obtained during the allotted time (first 2 or 3 songs of the show).
On the grand scale of things we are a small agency with a big reputation, we’re proud of what we do and it’s really deflating when stuff like this happens. When I started Sound Check Entertainment I didn’t start it for the money, I’m still not in it for the money, but I’m proud of our reputation and I love seeing our work displayed on artists pages and social media…with the watermarks and photo credit given.
To all you artists out there reading this, I encourage you that if you like one of the photos that was taken at your show reach out, support our photographers by buying that photo. It helps them maintain their gear, purchase software for photo editing and ensure that their skills are always up to date with the latest trends and technologies. A few of you already have and for that I personally thank you!
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