Musicians protest as 'pay-to-play' deals hit bum note

HUNDREDS of musicians are set to protest against exploitation in the Glasgow music scene.

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Organised by folk singer and songwriter Vivien Scotson, the protest will take place in George Square on Sunday at 1pm, to raise awareness about the problem of 'pay to play' which she describes as "immoral".

'Pay to play' is when musicians are asked to hand over money to promoters in order to be allowed to play at certain venues.

Vivien said musicians are being forced to sell tickets for their own gigs and hand over the majority of the money to promoters, even if they do not sell all the tickets.

World renowned jazz guitarist and composer Martin Taylor is backing the campaign, alongside promoters who are opposed to the practice.

Vivien said it is a "wide- spread" problem that is exploiting musicians in Glasgow.

She added: "It's already having an impact. Musicians from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Irish musicians, feel put off coming to Glasgow because our music scene is being polluted by these people who are expecting musicians to give them money in order to be allowed to perform.

"It is lowering the standard of how things are done.

"Glasgow is the UNESCO City of Music. That's why we are trying to flush this out."

Pay to play is not a new practice in Glasgow, in fact it has been around since the 1980s, but there is no legislation to regulate such deals.

Vivien said the protest aims to raise awareness about the problem and educate the public and music venues and promoters about the impact of 'pay to play'.

She added: "It needs to be recognised that this is a problem, and it needs to stop."

Martin Taylor, who has been a professional musician for 40 years and plays concerts all over the world, said: "You wouldn't ask anybody in any other profession to pay to do their job.

"You wouldn't say to a plumber 'come round and fix my bathroom sink but you have to give me some money for doing it', it's crazy."

He added: "If musicians don't have financial support then it makes the creative process very difficult."

Sheena MacDonald, regional organiser at the Musicians Union, said the organisation has always been "opposed" to pay to play.

She added: "We do not think that bands should be exploited at any point in their career.

"Musicians should not be expected to pay to get on stage to play a gig.

"If musicians are not getting paid it undermines the value of live music."

matty.sutton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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