The London 2012 Olympic games are coming up and yes, I know, we are all excited. Maybe you're most excited about one of the sporting events (rowing, anyone?). Or maybe, music lover, you are most excited for the musical performances. The British Media leaked potential numbers by the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Clash ("London Calling" feels like a given). There will also be original songs for the Olympics and 2012 will be the first year Olympic music is digitally released by LOCOG (the organizing committee). What's not to love?
This year, many musicians will not be properly compensated for their performances.
4,500 signatures have been added to the Change.org petition for musicians. The petition, started by Jazz musician Corey Mwamba, states that "LOCOG is not paying professional musicians for performing, citing that the publicity is adequate compensation." The Musicians' Union has been vocal about the issue as well, and stated, on their homepage, "LOCOG has repeatedly told us that all professional musicians will be paid, and yet we've seen example after example of them breaking their word. If they want musicians to entertain thousands of people then they should pay for it. It is difficult enough to earn a decent living as a professional musician these days -- where does this idea come from that musicians should be happy to work for free?" LOCOG agreed that all but professional musicians are to play for free. So, what's the definition of a "professional musician?"
Artists like Jan Steele, of the jazz band Cafecito, have expressed that they simply cannot afford to play for little to no compensation. Steele was offered 50 Pounds per hour but calculated that, with a five piece band, the compensation would not suffice. Steele wrote an email to the The LA Times
, "There is no promotional benefit whatsoever from us playing because we had to sign a document saying that we wouldn't publicize that we were playing at the Olympics, wouldn't sell merchandise, wear our logo on our clothing, hand out publicity, etc."
The Rolling Stones, the Who, and Paul McCartney may be able to play for pure publicity, but many artists cannot. Much of the Olympics is not widely televised so publicity depends on venue and time. It's true that the Olympics is an event for amateur athletes, but the definition of amateur has been bent by the participation of athletes who are widely compensated. What would the Olympics be without the inclusion of music in the ceremonies?
What do you think? Should LOCOG show musicians some more love?