The Musicians’ Union has reversed its position on pay to play and will launch its new thinking at the In the City conference in Manchester next month.
The MU has always been against pay to play, objecting to bands having to pay to get a gig.
However, since the formation of the MU’s Gig Section, which has gathered together artists and local promoters, the union has accepted that some pay to play deals can be beneficial to musicians and promoters.
MU assistant general secretary Horace Trubridge says the union recognises these are tough times. “Unless you are an established artist, you’re going to need to do deals in order to get the gigs to build up your fan base and launch your career,” he argues. “The MU will still oppose deals which leave musicians out of pocket, but we are now advising members to have a look at what is being offered – some pay to play gigs result in the artist making a decent sum of money.”
This will be the main issue discussed at the MU’s ITC panel on October 13. The panel will be chaired by Trubridge and will feature Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Manchester promoter Jay Taylor.