From our Swindon Correspondent:
From The Guardian
A group of professional musicians have said they were dropped by Strictly Come Dancing after they asked to be paid for performing on the programme’s spinoff show.
Amaraterra, a band who perform traditional southern Italian music, said they were excited when they were approached by producers who were enthusiastic about them appearing on the BBC companion programme It Takes Two.
However, when they asked for a fee to compensate them for a day’s work the BBC producers told them, in emails seen by the Guardian: “We just don’t have money in the budget to pay for contributors.” Instead, they were offered a free lunch and it was suggested that they would receive a “decent amount of screen time, as well as a mention of your group name”, which would help boost the band’s following on Instagram and Facebook.
And that’s entirely fair. In fact, the BBC should probably demand a few grand because of the publicity you get, and the value to you.
Band member Cassandre Balosso-Bardin said the band responded by asking the BBC to honour the relatively low rates agreed with the Musicians’ Union for session work, in addition to to the hours of practice required. They then did not hear back for several days, only to be told the show had dropped them.
Because there’s another few dozen bands they can think of, and one of them will bite your hand off.
The performer told the Guardian she was tired of musicians being expected to work for free. She said: “The days of ‘it’ll give you exposure’ (something all musicians will be all too familiar with) are over. What exposure? For what? We won’t get any gigs these days and we won’t sell any albums as we have none to sell, not being able to afford its production … They want us and our expertise, but they won’t pay for it.”
That’s understandable with many parasites. But this is the BBC, on a show with 2 million viewers. And one of the hardest things in the music business is getting noticed amongst the 10s of thousands of other bands out there.
Sure, maybe you can’t make gigs now, but almost anyone appears on the BBC, they get people googling them. If you ever look up a company that’s on Dragon’s Den, their website has crashed, because people are interested.
And yeah, there aren’t any gigs right now, but people will Google you. You get people to subscribe/Follow on all your Facebooks and Twatters. You do little things to keep them following you until next summer when you make out like bandits by booking gigs.
(and you don’t need a load of money to produce music)
Balosso-Bardin said the inability to perform live during the pandemic had left some of her band members struggling to survive: “Like all other musicians, our gigs have been cancelled since March. We haven’t raised the funds to be able to produce our latest album. We created a few YouTube videos but haven’t monetised any of our work as it feels unfair to our followers, most of whom are just as hard-up as we are.
“We do not know when our next gig will be, and many of the band members are either furloughed or on universal credit. And the current Covid allowance for the self-employed (20% of your income), when 56% of musicians make less than £20,000 a year, is a pittance.”
I’m sure there’s an old expression about farmers putting up fences in winter that applies here. If you have work, you go and do it. If you don’t, work on longer-term stuff. Most of it might not work out, but so what? You’re not making any money anyway. You’re not losing money by going and playing a free gig that might get you a few thousand extra followers that you can eventually turn into gigs.