George Strait: No Unflattering Photos, Please
Rocks Off does our best to shield our readers from all the red tape we have to go through in order to bring you a steady stream of concert reviews.
Marc Brubaker Evidently shooting George Strait from this angle and distance is OK.
For one thing, it's pretty boring - a bunch of emails and release forms not much different from the paperwork common to about a thousand other lines of work. About 99 percent of the time, we secure the necessary credentials from the promoters, publicists and/or artist management, publish the review, and get on with our lives.
However, the old saw about sausage tasting better the less you know about how it's made applies to the music business more than a lot of other fields. But every once in a while, something sticks in our craw enough that we feel it's necessary to break the fourth wall.
And so it came to pass that last Friday, Rocks Off dispatched Rocks Off Jr. and Marc Brubaker to cover the opening night of George Strait's 2011 tour at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. They loved it, an outcome only slightly less surprising than Slim Thug tweeting something off-color.
After we published our review Monday morning, Rocks Off Jr. emailed Strait's PR firm, Nashville's Front Page Publicity, a link to the article, as both a thank-you for the tickets and proof we weren't scamming them just so we could go hear "Amarillo by Morning" one more time for free.
They wrote back thanking us for the review... and also requesting we take down the photos of Strait we posted and send them to Nashville for approval. Say what?
This would be like letting an artist see a review or article we had written before we published it, so they could take anything out they might not agree with. Rocks Off does not work this way - getting the facts wrong is one thing, which is why we have editors and fact-checkers on staff. It's impossible to get an opinion wrong, in a concert review or anywhere else.
These must be acceptable shadows for a Strait picture.
But Front Page had us in a bit of a bind. A clause in their photographer agreement that Brubaker signed, and Rocks Off Sr. sent back to Nashville, said "photographer may not publish the photographs in any manner without obtaining the prior written permission of Artist."
Generally, all photographer agreements look about the same, but this is the first time Rocks Off can remember seeing that specific clause in one. We generally don't see them at all, because most of the time photographers sign them at the box office where they pick up their photo pass. If we had read this one a little more closely before sending it to Nashville, we might have called off the review.
But we didn't, and after consulting with some higher-ups here at the paper (including Village Voice Media legal counsel), we decided to play nice, take the photos down and send them to Front Page. Brubaker is a talented photographer, so we fully expected Front Page to say they were fine.