US photo magazine, Outdoor Photographer, owes thousands in unpaid fees to at least 15 contributors, and the CEO of its new parent company, Bebop Channel, launched a bizarre diatribe against them.
Earlier this year Bebop Channel acquired Madavor Media, making it the owner of Jazz Times, as well as several photographic publications such as Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Digital Photo, and the massively popular Imaging Resource, which it shutdown overnight without a statement or explanation.
Inside Imaging described the abrupt shutdown of Imaging Resource as ‘callous’ and ‘supremely uncool behaviour from the jazz heads’.
While photo media is outside the scope of Bebop Channel’s expertise of jazz, dance theatre, there was a hopeful expectation that the new owners may continue operating these publications. Perhaps they’ve even viewed ‘The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith‘ and identified some similarities between photography and jazz. Herbie Hancock famously said ‘jazz is about being in the moment’ – same goes for photography.
But, alas, such a revelation to save the publication did not occur, and the overwhelming lack of profitability meant the photo media was promptly cut loose. Although through the acquisition, Bebop Channel purchased the unpaid debts left by Outdoor Photographer and other Madavor publications.
Several Outdoor Photographer contributors allege to Petapixel that they remain unpaid for articles and photos published up to a year ago, back when Madavor was running the show.
‘Outdoor Photographer’s own contract stipulated payment within eight weeks,’ one anonymous contributor claims. ‘Here we are, without payment, six to nine months later depending on how you’re counting [and] BeBop will not respond to anybody’s emails.’
Petapixel published a few other similar accounts, and is aware of at least 15 unpaid contributors. Bebop Channel is committed to paying these debts although in tiny installments, which was corroborated by some contributors who reported payments of US$15-$20 per week. One contributor estimates it to take two years to be paid in full.
Bebop Channel’s CEO and founder, Gregory Charles Royal, responded to Petapixel by blaming the contributors for continuing to submit content despite not being paid.
‘In taking over this company that was grossly mismanaged on an unbelievable level, one glaring question arises for the 100+ contributors that find themselves in this predicament: Why on earth would you continue to work for a company that was not paying you. For months upon months!’
If Royal’s response is factual, it appears Bebop Channel may have acquired unpaid debt owed to not just a handful of contributors, but ‘100+’. One hopes for Bebop Channel’s sake that it did its due diligence prior to acquiring Madavor, and the unpaid debt was accounted for in the negotiations. Although Royal comes off as miffed by the whole situation, and feels Madavor’s management was ‘reckless’.
‘Your community wants to criticize because we have taken sites down etc,’ Royal said. ‘But these properties lost a lot of money, as to why the contributors were not paid – and it was reckless for them to be hired to the extent they were in the first pkace [sic]. No you can’t blame it Covid or paper shortages, it was arrogance and a total disregard by some in management and certain editors. The chickens come home to roost.’
The aggro response, riddled with spelling mistakes, is rather odd coming from the CEO of a publicly-traded company. It would be an outrage if a respected jazz club didn’t pay performers on several occasions, and one wonders if Royal would be flabbergasted at a fellow trombonist for continuing to play at the venue while they await payment.
The Bebop Channel CEO has invited the photo community to pool its resources to buy the unprofitable photo media outlets.
‘In response to the scores of emails we receive from contributors and readers, we offer you to pool your resources and purchase these beloved photo properties that have this support we are constantly hearing about,’ he said. ‘Even though I am a horn player, I will not hold my breath or maybe the community proves me wrong!’
He’s asking for US$500K for Outdoor Photographer, Image Creators Network, Digital Pro Photo, Imaging Resource, and Digital Photo. ‘This is an “as is” bundle-only offering and includes archives, websites, and sub roster’, the ad states.
Given Bebop Channel’s market capitalisation is around US$8 million, the US$500K price represents over six percent of Bebop’s total valuation.