Complaints force East Midlands Airport to apologise to irate musicians

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

East Midlands Airport has withdrawn a request for musicians to play for free in its departure lounge following complaints it was exploiting performers.

The airport said it wanted musicians to come forward and take advantage of an opportunity to "raise their profile" by playing at the airport.

However, professional musicians responded to the airport with outrage after being told they would not be paid for doing so.

After the Leicester Mercury reported that the airport was looking for musicians to play for free in the departure lounges, the request went viral on social media.

And not in a good way.

Airport bosses have been accused of trying to exploit musicians by saying staff would "look after them" but the performers would not get a penny for their efforts.

Musician Dave Layzell responded to the airport on Facebook saying: “Dear East Midlands Airport,

"My band is currently looking for transportation to a host of European countries.

“We wouldn't be able to pay you for this service but it would be a great opportunity and excellent exposure for your airline to the many other bands we know, and free advertising in any of the destination countries you are willing to fly us to.

“Please get in touch if you would like to take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Brian McFie, who plays with the Lola in Slacks band, said: “As a seasoned, experienced and far travelled professional musician, I read the article posted by the Leicester Mercury detailing your plea to local musicians to ply their trade for nothing but your doubtless peerless hospitality in your new departure facility.

“This was brought to my attention by other utterly disgusted professionals who, like myself, will be mercilessly sharing this ridiculous proposal far and wide and treating it with the utter contempt it deserves.

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

“If you pay nothing at all, be prepared to be serving drinks and food to low grade chancers.”

The Musicians’ Union has now intervened in the row.

Midlands regional organiser Stephen Brown said he was pleased the airport had called off the offer.

He said: “I’m pleased we have been able to open a dialogue and they realise that being a musician is a job, not a hobby, and takes a skill set that should be recognised.

“It takes time, money and effort to be a performer.

“Unfortunately there will always be people who can be sweet talked into performing for nothing with the promise of exposure but we are working to make sure musicians are fairly paid for what they do.”

An East Midlands Airport spokesman said: “The invitation we issued to local musicians to perform in our departure lounge over the autumn was in no way designed to undermine the skill, hard work and professionalism that is required to perform in public. We apologise for any upset caused.

"We have contacted the regional office of the Musicians’ Union (MU) and are working with them to agree how best to proceed. In the meantime, we will discontinue our promotion.

“Thank you to all those who have contacted us expressing a desire to perform at the airport.”