The UK will host two of the biggest events of the decade this summer – the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But a debate is emerging about whether or not musicians should be allowed to play for free.
Reports have been made to the Musicians’ Union (MU) of a number of instances of professional musicians being asked to perform unpaid at events marking either celebration. But the organisation is urging musicians not to accept any offer of unpaid work.
It claims that the London Olympics organising committee (Locog) has signed a Principles of Cooperation with the TUC that states that professional workers will be paid for any work they do and are not considered part of the unpaid volunteer workforce.
Other sectors involved in the Olympics events and Jubilee celebrations, such as security and staging, are paid their usual fees and so the MU argues musicians should be too.
However, some musicians may be happy to perform unpaid. Aside from the joy and experience some may take from performing at such iconic, worldwide events – and those related to them such as the Cultural Olympics and local celebrations – musicians may benefit from some free publicity.
Many musicians and artists have put their name under the Cultural Olympiad brand and produced work for free, as well as countless charities and musical organisations, bringing the arts to a wider audience.
But the MU has said of the situation that it is “completely unacceptable and we will take the matter further”.
“Professional musicians should always be offered a fee for their work,” it said, calling on individuals to report any offers they are made – paid or unpaid – to the Regional Office.
What do you think? Do musicians deserve to be paid for their performances when it comes to the Jubilee and Olympics? Or should they work for free for the benefit of the spectacle?
Let us know what you think in a comment below!