Portland Musicians Launch “Fair Trade Music” Campaign
PORTLAND MUSICIANS LAUNCH
“FAIR TRADE MUSIC” CAMPAIGN
Project Seeks to Establish Minimum Pay Guarantees for All Working Musicians
Portland, OR – September 8, 2009 – A coalition of Portland musicians has launched the “Fair Trade Music” campaign, which is seeking to establish minimum pay guarantees for all performing musicians in the Portland area. Co-sponsored by Local 99 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Labor Education and Research Center, the coalition includes union and non-union musicians.
Most music fans assume that 100% of the cover charge goes to the artist but in fact, through extensive deductions for venue expenses like sound staff, door staff, promotional fees, and ‘house fees,’ musicians routinely see their compensation reduced to a tiny fraction of what was brought in. “This is simple,” stated Bruce Fife, President of the Musicians Union, “we think there ought to be a reasonable, minimum compensation for musicians when they work for a business enterprise. And when you, the consumer, pay your $5 or $10 at the door, we want you to know that your money actually makes it to the artists.”
In response to this ongoing problem, the Fair Trade Music coalition has developed a tiered pay scale based on venue type and capacity that adequately compensates musicians while still allowing the house to make a fair profit and eliminates questionable deductions for venue overhead. Fair Trade Music asks the general public to only patronize venues displaying Fair Trade Music window stickers indicating their support and commitment to fairness.
Ryan Biornstad of the band Starf*cker said, “I fully support the Fair Trade Music campaign. It reimburses musicians fairly for their time, both onstage and off – where most of the real work happens. Musicians need to realize that their time and energy is worth something and clubs need to properly appreciate that. You spend a lot of money on equipment and a lot of time writing and recording and then you have to haul your gear to the club and that’s just to get paid nothing. That’s just the norm right now, but we can change it. I hope all Portland musicians will join the campaign.”
Fair Trade Music is endorsed by over 200 Portland-area bands including such well-known acts as March Fourth, 3 Leg Torso, and Keegan Smith. It is also supported by the Cascade Blues Association, the Portland Songwriters Association and the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (Local 28).
The coalition is offering all musicians Fair Trade Music buttons and stickers to display at their gigs in silent solidarity with the campaign. Musicians are encouraged to visit the Fair Trade Music website (www.FairTradeMusicPDX.org) for more info and to register their endorsements. Additionally, the campaign will be hosting regular gatherings to raise awareness and answer questions about the program.
Simply put, “When a band performs for exposure,” said local blues great Norman Sylvester, “they expose themselves to poverty.”
** FAIR TRADE MUSIC – Because Music is a Day Job! **