Ariana Grande's Sweetener Tour Just Went Sour: News And Media Outlets Protesting Tour Photography Policy

Ariana Grande's Sweetener Tour Just Went Sour: News And Media Outlets Protesting Tour Photography Policy

According to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the tour agreement photographers must sign to document her concerts requires transfer of the full copyright of the images taken to her tour company and that they obtain written permission from Ariana Grande herself for the photographer to be able to even post the images.

What’s worse is that once the photographer gets permission to use the images, they are only allowed to post as a news-related item for the publication they work for and can only use the image once. Yes, once. The agreement also states that photographers are only allowed to take photos for the first three songs and must stay in one designated location (that part is more standard). The NPPA has posted the full agreement on their website.

At least 15 outraged news and media outlets including The National Press Photographers Associate (NPPA), Associated Press, Gannett, and The New York Times, have sent letters to the tour company protesting the contract. In a letter written to Grande’s Representatives by NPPA General Counsel Mickey H. Osterrecher, he states that “this surprising and very troubling overreach by Ms. Grande runs counter to legal and industry standards and is anathema to core journalistic principles of the news organizations represented here.”

NPPA President Michael P. King has commented on the issue, stating: “We cannot in good conscience advise our members to sign such an agreement as it currently stands, and we will be actively and publicly reaching out to photographers and their publications cautioning them against signing it.”

No word at this point if there has been any response from Ariana Grande's side.

Lead Image by Wendy Wei from Pexels

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Andrew Palmer's picture

As a concert photographer who's shot directly for many National (Canada) and international acts for the past 8 years, there are some aspects of the contract that are standard protocol (1st 3 songs, shooting from front of house sometimes is required if no photo pit is provided, no commercial usage, liability for damages, confidentiality with regards to certain aspects is pretty standard from an ethical standpoint).

Where things cross the line is transferring of ownership rights (without compensation), and single usage of which the artist has to approve the image. I didn't see any other mentions in the comment but the contract also impedes on the right to free speech ("Photographer agrees that Photographer shall not make any derogatory or negative statements with respect to the Persons, or otherwise engage in any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the Persons’ reputation or public image."), such that if the artist puts on a bad show or anything, the media organization isn't allowed to mention it. Of course, I've never seen any of these contracts actually be followed up on but it's a matter of principle attempting to control the media.

I've never had any issues with the artists I've worked with myself, as it all comes down to a matter of respect for each other. Everyone has a job to do and contracts like these make it more difficult for those jobs to be done. Being able to create the best photos is a benefit to all parties involved (potential for income to the photographer, merch opportunities for the artist when the photos are paid for, etc), and contracts like this that are designed to restrict the 0.1% who are looking to tabloid the bad photographers, make all photographers look bad while restricting the creative processes.

David Pavlich's picture

Worst than the photography issue is the fact that there are people that actually like her 'music' enough to pay for tickets. ;-)

Daniel Karanikis's picture

What people are failing to see is that she could just as easily deny press passes. Problem solved based on her reasoning. Instead, she is allowing photos with the rights to (and in my opinion INTENT) of getting free material to use in promotional material. Say what you want, but if the real reason was because of her image being bootlegged, then she could just do what MANY other big acts do and just only allow a house photographer. Period.

Ann Quimby's picture

if she denies photographers, she doesn't get anything for free. She's fantasizing about having her cake and eating it too because she still needs the press coverage. No major publication will run a review and use artist-provided photos. Name many big acts that don't allow photographers. btw, house photographer and tour photographer are different things. If they are working for the artist, they are a tour photog. House photographer works for the venue. The New York Times is party to this protest. They sure as hell are going to only run their own photos. They aren't going to run a censored review. If you think a major artist is going to play a major venue like MSG and not get NYT coverage and be ok with that, you're kidding yourself. Artists still need press and reviews. They sell tickets. NO artist stays on top forever.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I would just skip the opportunity. Waist of time - next.

Miguel Almanza's picture

Easy. READ the entire contract first. Then, either don't be a photographer for her, or don't be her photographer. You can't protest something that you're not forced into signing.

They might have a reason to put all that in there.