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Musicians Reject Calls to Work for Free During Covid-19 Pandemic

The Musicians’ Union has received new reports of venues and events asking musicians to work for free. This is not acceptable.  

Published: 19 August 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
'This is not a hobby, it's our profession' #WorkNotPlayMU
The response from the community of performers clearly shows that it is not acceptable to be asked to work for free – especially during a global pandemic.

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.

The power of musicians

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.

“This goes to show the power of musicians and performers calling out unfair work practices. ATG have said that details of the event and support for performers are still being worked out. But the response from the community of performers clearly shows that they will not accept being asked to work for free – especially during a global pandemic,” said MU Regional Organiser for Wales & South West England Andy Warnock.

“Supporting the region’s theatres and venues is essential, but that must include support for the musicians and performers as well,” he added.

This is not a hobby, it’s our profession 

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.

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