Cadence Weapon, Tess Roby, Spencer Krug Among Artists Calling for Fair Pay from SXSW

Austra, Illuminati Hotties, the Mountain Goats, Speedy Oritz, Zola Jesus, Eve 6 and Pedro the Lion have also signed the open letter

Photos (from left): Tess Roby by Ryan Molnar, Cadence Weapon by Jennifer Hyc, Spencer Krug by Pamela Dawson

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 7, 2023

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) has shared an open letter to Austin, TX's SXSW festival, calling for higher pay for performing artists. Over 120 musicians — including Cadence Weapon, Tess Roby, Spencer Krug, Austra, Illuminati Hotties, the Mountain Goats, Speedy Oritz, Zola Jesus, Wednesday, Rachika Naya, Anjimile, Half Waif, Eve 6, Remember Sports, Pedro the Lion and Jackie Mendoza — have signed the petition.

The letter makes four demands of SXSW, which are as follows:

1. Increase the compensation for showcases from $250 to at least $750 for all performers. (Which is still less than the cost of a single music badge to attend the festival.)

2. Include a festival wristband in addition to financial compensation. Stop forcing artists to choose between being paid and attending the festival they are performing at.

3. Provide the same compensation + wristband deal to international artists and domestic US artists.

4. End the application fee.

SXSW has offered the same artist compensation for over a decade: a payment of $250 USD ($100 for solo artists and duos) or a festival wristband for artists from the US, with no payment offered for international artists.

"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," UMAW organizer Joey La Neve DeFranceso said 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."

UMAW are asking other artists who are performing at this year's festival (or have performed at SXSW in the past) to sign their demands. You can read the open letter in full here, where you'll also find the full list of musicians backing the campaign.

Cadence Weapon and Roby have both been at the fore of advocating for better working conditions for touring artists, the former having launched the #MyMerch campaign to end venue merch cuts in November and the latter speaking out about potential US work visa fee increases last week.

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