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Musicians Call on SXSW to Increase Artist Pay at Festival

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers wants artists to be properly compensated for performances at Austin event
(Credit: Amy E. Price/FilmMagic)

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) published an open letter on Tuesday calling South-by-Southwest to increase artists’ compensation. Over 130 artists signed the letter and marked the launch of the music workers advocacy group’s new campaign, Fair Pay at SXSW.

In the letter, UMAW says that the festival “has paid bands the same deal for over a decade: either take a total of $250, or receive a wristband for the festival you’re performing at. For solo artists and duos, the offer is only $100. For non-US artists, there is no financial compensation offered at all.”

UMAW wants payments to increase to $750 for all artists, include a festival wristband, and remove application fees (which have increased from $40 to $55) for the festival.

“The costs 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,” said UMAW organizer Joey La Neve DeFrancesco. “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.”

In a statement that was given to The Hollywood Reporter, the festival said that it “appreciate[s] the feedback from the UMAW and will be doing our policy review after next month’s event.”

Eve 6, Zola Jesus, Wednesday, Geoff Rickley and SPIN contributor Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Oritz are among the artists who signed the letter. You can read the full letter here.