Bands at SXSW are calling for higher pay : NPR

Bands chosen to play at South By SouthWest in Austin receives a commission simply $250 whereas organizers are making good income. Musicians are talking out about needing more cash as publicity on the competition is not as profitable.


South by Southwest music is presently underway in Austin, Texas. Yearly, the competition brings in thousands and thousands of worldwide followers and {dollars} to the Texas capital. Working musicians are the spine of the competition, and a few say they’re getting paid a pittance to play. Now they’re asking for extra. From member station KUT in Austin, Andrew Weber stories.

ANDREW WEBER, BYLINE: Audrey Campbell and her band Pleasure Venom had been of their second of three exhibits in 24 hours on the Austin bar Gap within the Wall.

PLEASURE VENOM: (Singing, inaudible).

WEBER: Throughout the break, she thanked the group and the parents who placed on the present, joking that they paid them a good wage.

AUDREY CAMPBELL: Thanks guys for paying us adequately (laughter) to do that. We actually respect you guys.

WEBER: It is the worst saved secret in Austin’s music scene. South by Southwest’s wages aren’t nice and so they have not modified in additional than a decade. A band that performs the competition will get $250. For this present, although, Audrey and her band made 3 times that. However it’s unofficial. The present was placed on by the Union of Musicians and Allied Employees, a nonprofit that helps artists receives a commission. It was began by New York musician Joey La Neve DeFrancesco

JOEY LA NEVE DEFRANCESCO: It was a low wage 10 years in the past, and it is a basically meaningless wage now.

WEBER: The competition began almost 40 years in the past. Since then, it is introduced billions of {dollars} to Austin. It is helped town safe a profile as a tech capital. And it has been purchased by Penske Media, a multibillion-dollar firm. DeFrancesco says artists aren’t profiting. In actual fact, they lose cash taking part in the competition. It begins with a $55 software payment. Then there’s room and board, parking, meals. DeFrancesco says taking part in for publicity at South by Southwest is not honest.

DEFRANCESCO: They suppose they seem to be a mega company, , similar causes – Spotify, Reside Nation, Ticketmaster, proper? – they do not need to respect musicians both as a result of they suppose we’ve no energy.

WEBER: So his group is pushing the competition to pay not less than $750 and no software payment. In a press release, South by Southwest stated it’ll reevaluate its wages forward of subsequent yr’s competition and stated, quote, “it is dedicated to creating skilled alternatives for artists.” True, South by Southwest typically markets itself as a spot to be found for musicians like Audrey Campbell from Pleasure Venom. However she would not purchase that. She would not want the publicity.

CAMPBELL: I’ve paid all of the dues at this level. You realize, I’ve carried out sufficient free exhibits. However I’ve carried out all of it. And it is like I haven’t got something to show.

WEBER: She and her band have opened for giant legacy punk bands like L7 and Bikini Kill, not due to publicity on the competition, however due to their work. After her set, Campbell admits being outspoken about low pay at South by Southwest might have an effect on her possibilities of taking part in on the competition subsequent yr. However she needs to say one thing for musicians who could also be afraid to talk out.

CAMPBELL: So it seems like my duty to say one thing for artists which may really feel small and don’t need – do not feel like they’ve, like, the arrogance to say it as a result of they really feel like they are going to lose a job. Guess what? I’ve all the time stated no matter I need, and I nonetheless get work (laughter).

WEBER: Campbell admits, finally, it is as much as South by Southwest whether or not it pays artists extra, however hopes not less than they made some noise.

CAMPBELL: (Singing) OK. Obtained it.

WEBER: For NPR Information, I am Andrew Weber in Austin.

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