Culture | Starving artists fight back

Montreal band launches petition against MTL Blog for coverage charge

MTL Blog is currently one of the most popular websites on the internet for all Montreal-related news and events. It is possibly also one of the most controversial news and culture websites in the city, having received allegations of photo theft and failing to compensate contributors. In response to this criticism, the site this summer published a “love letter” to Montreal, claiming “hate us, and we rebuttal [sic].” Now, a Montreal band has decided to “rebuttal” right back at the site.

Montreal-based band Archery Guild has made accusations against the site that may damage its reputation as a go-to source for culture in Montreal. The band, founded in 2010, states that MTL Blog contacted them in January 2014 about covering one of their shows – with the requirement that they pay for this coverage before the show took place. Archery Guild alleges that, while they agreed to the coverage, they did not pay beforehand, and MTL Blog has since been charging them for publicity and coverage, with interest.

To make their claims public, Archery Guild started an online petition this month on change.org. where they relay what happened behind the closed doors of this exchange, asking the public to help change the blog’s practice of charging for coverage. Both MTL Blog and Archery Guild agree that there was a request for payment before the event. However, Archery Guild states that no contracts were agreed upon, and although no payment was made to MTL Blog, the site still took and uploaded photos of the event.

Archery Guild claims that an invoice, with interest, has been sent to them on a monthly basis since the show, requesting payment for the coverage. However, Michael Cota, the lead vocalist of the band, argues that no contract regarding such a payment was signed. “If there [was] a contract, it would be a different story. There was no contract, this was [MTL Blog’s] responsibility,” writes Cota on their petition’s page on change.org.

After the petition went up, Charles Lapointe, co-founder and CEO of MTL Blog, has said that Archery Guild’s allegations are false and that proper documentation had been signed prior to the show, although he did not respond when pressed to provide evidence of the documents. He writes, “[W]e do not charge for all events. We will work on making this more obvious for events where we do.”
Despite the disparity as to whether or not an agreement had been made and a contract signed prior to the event, Archery Guild told The Daily that MTL Blog has agreed to absorb the costs of the photographer.

Asked to comment on the current situation, Cota said, “I feel like they are really trying to shut me up so they can move on and continue doing everything as it was before this petition and the other articles that have surfaced about them.”

According to Archery Guild, the coverage that MTL Blog did of their show was mostly photographs of the fans and not of the band itself. The band was also told to share the MTL Blog article with their followers on social media, which they claim they did. Archery Guild has publicly agreed to pay the photographer who did the coverage but not MTL Blog itself.

The incident with Archery Guild is not the only criticism aimed at MTL Blog’s practices in the past year. There have been numerous reports that the website, which considers itself to be a news site, acts more like an advertising company, since many of its articles are sponsored and have been paid for.

While the absorption of the photography cost means that Archery Guild’s financial conflict with the site has been resolved, their petition also addresses the broader struggle that many Montreal artists face in trying to earn a living from their art. “Our band is a group of literally starving artists,” the band’s petition states, concluding with the assertion that “the people who deserved to be paid (and who were) at the show were the artists themselves.”

MTL Blog could not be reached for a comment.


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