Wednesday, Speedy Ortiz, Anjimile, & Dozens More Artists Demand Higher Pay From SXSW In Open Letter
More than 120 artists have signed an open letter to SXSW from the Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers (UMAW) demanding higher pay. Artists who signed include Guy Picciotto, Y La Bamba, Anjimile, Wednesday, Vijay Iyer, Eve 6, Cadence Weapon, Zola Jesus, Heba Kadry, Speedy Ortiz, and more. The letter marks the launch of a campaign called Fair Pay At SXSW.
As a press release notes, SXSW (taking place this year March 13-18) has laid out the same compensation terms for over a decade: either accept a total payment of $250, or receive a wristband for the festival. For solo artists and duos, the offer is $100. For non-US artists, there is no financial compensation offered.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The open letter includes four demands: increase payments to $750 for all artists, include a wristband to the festival in addition to financial compensation, remove the application fees, and provide the same compensation to international artists.
SXSW is currently owned by Penske Media, which also owns Rolling Stone, Billboard, Variety, Artforum, and the Hollywood trade magazines. Noting the billionaire status of the Penske family, UMAW organizer Joel Jerome says: “The fact that the billionaire Penske family now owns the festival makes the low payments even more insulting.”
“This is just the beginning,” adds organizer Marshall Moran. “Artists have had enough of this kind of exploitation.”
See the full open letter here.