Taylor Swift apologises to Nicki Minaj over MTV award row

Taylor Swift has apologised to Nicki Minaj (right).
Taylor Swift has apologised to Nicki Minaj (right).REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) Pop superstar Taylor Swift apologised on Thursday to rapper Nicki Minaj after striking a rare false note in an online row over the MTV Video Music Awards nominations.

Minaj had charged that her Anaconda was passed over for Video of the Year due to bias against African-American women, with the music industry preferring "very slim" women.

The very slim Swift, who received the most nominations for the Aug 30 awards, responded to Minaj that "I've done nothing but love and support you" and invited her to share the stage if she wins for her video Bad Blood.

"It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot," Swift, a self-identified feminist, wrote on Twitter.

Nearly two days later and facing criticism, Swift - who has usually managed to avoid controversy in her smooth-sailing career - backtracked.

"I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I'm sorry, Nicki," Swift tweeted.

Minaj had said she was bewildered by Swift's original response and that she instead wished that Swift had spoken out on portrayals of African-American women.

She indicated Thursday that any "bad blood" was over, tweeting in response to the apology: "That means so much Taylor, thank you."

The controversy brought an unexpected intervention on Wednesday from another singing star, Katy Perry, who suggested that Swift was using the "pit woman against each other argument" while herself putting down another woman, Minaj.

Perry's tweet to her nearly 73 million followers marked a rare moment that the long-rumoured tension between two of the era's top pop singers has come into the open.

In a separate case of Swift backtracking, the singer has eased restrictions on photographers covering her tour, after facing criticism for insisting on sweeping rights over their pictures.

After talks with a US press group, Swift's management has revised a contract which now explicitly states that it "does NOT transfer copyright away from you, the photographer or publication."

The pop superstar had faced charges of hypocrisy after she last month raised her voice against Apple, which quickly turned around and agreed to increase compensation to artists on the tech giant's new streaming platform.

Swift, saying she was speaking up for cowed musicians who wanted to be paid for their work, had written to Apple: "We don't ask you for free iPhones."

But a viral open letter by the British music photographer Jason Sheldon accused her of doing essentially the same, saying his profession was afraid of raising objections and being blacklisted by public relations agencies.

The original contract, given to photographers wishing to cover her blockbuster 1989 tour, said that pictures can only be used once and must accompany a published story.

Swift's management reserved the right to use the photographers' work in perpetuity for publicity or other "non-commercial" purposes.

The revised contract released this week removes the limitation of one-time use, while stating that photos remain for editorial purposes only.

The new contract also tones down an earlier warning that management had the right to destroy the images of any photographer found to be in violation.

The National Press Photographers Association voiced satisfaction with the new contract and praised Swift for working with the group.

"Ms Swift should be commended for showing by example her concern not only for the rights of musicians but for the rights of the photographers and organisations that cover her concerts," Mickey Osterreicher, the association's general legal counsel, said in a statement.

Swift's original contract was not unique, with high-profile musicians often seeking to control their image by forcing photographers to sign on to restrictions.