The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has this week accepted the Musicians' Union (MU), motion that professional musicians shouldn’t be expected to work for free under any circumstances.
General Secretary of the MU John Smith said: “The MU believes that too many people seem to think that music and entertainment are a hobby rather than a career, and are unaware of the years of training and hard work that it takes to become a professional performer. This leads to performers being asked or expected to work for free in far too many instances”.
Smith went on to say that Olympic events had brought the issue to the forefront again with many reports of musicians asked to play events connected to the games for no fee, despite an agreement between the MU and LOCOG that this wouldn’t happen.
Presumably, Smith isn’t referring to Sir Paul McCartney’s previously reported peppercorn fee of £1 to play the opening ceremony (some would say that the former Beatle got a good deal).
An article on the MU site illustrates that this is an ongoing issue, with Café Rouge organising various charity events on 18 September and asking musicians to play for no fee.
Smith commented: “As soon as the word ‘ charity’ comes up people think it's ok not to pay people, but the reality is that it always seems to be the musicians who are asked to work for free and no-one else, which is very unfair”.
The Trades Union Congress was held in Brighton this year and finished yesterday (12 September).