The Bristol Hippodrome recently called for singers, musicians and other performers to work for free at their venue. Following a backlash from musicians, including members contacting the MU, venue owners ATG were forced to respond.
However, it appeared that ATGs call for volunteers to perform was replaced by an Open Mic night. It seemed that musicians who wished to perform would have to apply in advance for a 1 to 2 hour set, and would have a tip jar put out for them – without musicians being paid directly for their work.
The MU engaged ATG in conversation and explained how musicians, like everyone else, urgently need an income right now. They requested the groups assistance in resolving this issue.
We are pleased to update that ATG have now released the following statement:
"ATG welcomed the opportunity of resolving this issue, and seeks to assure the MU and its members, that staff called to work would, of course, be paid.
“ATG values the relationship it has with staff, members, local communities and the wider industry, and would always seek to strengthen those ties when developing projects or initiatives, and it regrets the unfortunate set of circumstances in this instance.
“We hope the steps taken have resolved the issue, and we look forward to working with all of our industry partners as soon as we are able to reopen our venues."
This is not a hobby, it’s our profession
Many artists are looking for paid work after losing all their bookings due to Covid-19. Being expected to work for free only adds to the stress that they are already under.
While the UK Government has permitted a return to indoor live music in England, it will not result in MU members being able to make a living in the short or medium term. The £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund is also unlikely to reach the majority of musicians.
And while many people would expect other forms of income, such as streaming, to plug the gaps, the #BrokenRecord movement and #FixStreaming campaign show that is not the case.
No-one should feel guilty about turning down unpaid “opportunities". If you’ve been asked to work for no fee, please contact your MU Regional Office.
We may not be able to reply to every email individually. However every report is important as it helps us build cases, identify trends, and guides our work to get fair pay for every musician.