Which comes first, art or money?

Money v ArtIn the past few weeks there has been a quite lot of debate on copyright and especially musician / photographer related, due to a case that in my eyes is nothing short of a shambles. I am not going to get to the finer details of the case, as it has been debated well over the internet. In fact I will include here an episode of one of my favourite video podcasts The Music Biz weekly by Brian Thompson and Michael Brandvold. They go more in to detail what went on. Check the podcats video HERE. But just to give you a quick idea a band called Red Jumpsuit Apparatus posted a photo taken by a professional photographer Rohan Anderson, on the bands Facebook page, without the permission of the photographer. The version of the photo the band posted was cropped and had no photo credits.

What followed was very public online “cat fight” between the photographer and the band. Brian and Michael points it out well in the podcast that the whole thing could have been sorted out very simply, but the egos got on the way.

Anyway, this got me thinking about few things to do with copyright. It is an interesting subject. If photographer comes to a musicians show and takes a photo of them performing live, who owns the rights? Well, in most case the law is on the side of the photographer.

I am starting to think sometimes copyright can get on the way of creativity. And I think us artist need to think where our priorities lay. Which comes first, art or money? So I would like to make it clear here, if you like my photos, my music or my writing and want to use it for some purpose, as long as it is not for financial gain, or promoting some cause I do not believe in, I am cool with it. In fact I am more than cool with it, I’d love you to use my music 🙂 I do ask that you credit me, but that is just common courtesy. I want people to hear my music, and if you use it in your movie or even holiday slide show, more people will hear my music. When Spotify started to become popular, I was very vocal about the service. They were not very clear on the payout to the artists. But they earned my respect when they came out clear with their current payment plan, and future plans. I do question things when I feel my music is being used for profit, but that is why I am a member of IMRO (who deal with ASCAP in the USA), they are good at capturing the “big fish”. But if people are just looking to build their portfolio, looking to get experience or just creating something fresh and new, I’d love my music to be part of it. I think the days of us holding on to our art as something that can only be bought over the counter is long gone. Of course artists still need to make a living, but I believe if you do something from the depths of your heart with lot of hard work and soul and are willing to expose it to the world, the world will take care of you.

I know there are a lot of artists that will disagree with me. And I am not saying that you should not buy music. Do buy music, it is cheap these days 😉 Listen to it on Spotify and YouTube, the royalties will trickle down to the artist eventually. Go to see live shows, you will be amazed how a great live concert will energize you for weeks to come 🙂

But also, let me say this. In the past I asked young photographers (not professionals) if they wanted to take some photos for me. I was told it was disgraceful to expect them to work for free when I was getting paid… The show in question, I wasn’t getting paid for, but they didn’t believe me… In the other hand I had in several occasion professional photographers offering their services for free, as they wanted to work with me. Same goes with engineers, recording studios, videographers. Guess who I will recommend at the end of the day? I know there are great art schools out there, but the fact that you qualified from one does not make you an artist, you do not deserve to get paid just because you have qualifications in art. You deserve to get paid because you have been there, done it, proven your worth!

I love what I do and if you like it, that makes me happy. That is the number one reason I do this. Of course I still need to pay rent and eat, but that is not what drives me forward. Let the art come first.


The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download


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