A campaign has been launched urging the South By Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) to pay artists more.
The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers has published an open letter calling for higher pay for artists of which it has collected 120 signatures.
“The cost of touring, and the overall cost of living, have soared over the past decade, but SXSW has continued to offer the same disrespectful deal to artists,” UMAW’s Joey La Neve DeFrancesco shared in a statement via Pitchfork. “The festival has continued to grow, and openly brags about the hundreds of millions of dollars it generates for Austin. Yet the artists who are the backbone of the festival continue to be mistreated.”
The letter claims that over the last decade, compensation for artists based in the US has come in the form of a one-time payment of $250 (£207) ($100 (£82) for solo acts) or the option to receive a wristband to attend the festival as a guest in place of payment while international artists are only offered the wristband.
The letter also states that the festival now charges more in application fees for artists hoping to play the festival, raising the price from $40 (£33) to $55 (£45) across the last decade.
UMAW is calling for SXSW to commit to paying $750 (£621) to all artists playing the festival in an official capacity and for the festival to give a wristband to each performer in addition to their compensation, to offer the same payment and wristband options to international artists and to remove the application fee, which has resulted in an “actual decrease in wages for SXSW performers over the past decade,” according to the letter.
It added: “Even without accounting for skyrocketing inflation, these stagnant wages and growing fees have meant an actual decrease in wages for SXSW performers over the past decade.
“Enough is enough. Artists have built SXSW and we must be fairly compensated for our work.”
In response to the letter, SXSW issued the following statement to NME: “SXSW is honoured to host over 1,400 showcasing acts every March. We are committed to creating professional opportunities by bringing emerging artists together with media, the global music industry, and influential audiences. We appreciate the feedback from the UMAW and will be doing our policy review after next month’s event.”
Last December, an extra 301 artists, including English Teacher, Sunflower Bean, Adwaith, Dream Wife, Kid Bookie and The Zombies, were added to the bill for the festival, which will take place in its usual home of Austin, Texas, running over six days from March 13-18.
New Order also recently announced that they will launch a new Manchester multi-venue music festival and conference with a show at the festival next month.
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