Today, May 20th, is Fare Trade Music Day in Seattle, as confirmed by a 9 to 0 vote by Seattle’s City Council last week. Fare Trade Music is one of many small independent artist support groups spring up across the country striving to bring attention to the injustices facing working artists today.
While most of these conversations are about online piracy or the lack of compensation from streaming and traditional radio, Fare Trade Music’s agenda focussed on the lack of contracts and fair treatment of musicians by Seattle’s club owners.
Founded in 2012, Fare Trade Music reached out to the American Federation of Musicians Local 76-493 and Jeff Johnson, President of the 400,000 member Washington State Labor Council for support. Jeff Johnson ended up being their featured speaker, smart. Jeff shared with the city councilmen, based on a 2008 study, that music had contributed 2.6 billion to the local economy and was responsible for 11,000 jobs.
Johnson went on to say:
“I had the great honor to be able to testify in support of the Fair Trade Music resolution along with six musicians who gave compelling testimony about how difficult it is to make a living in Seattle clubs without written performance contracts. Often times musicians themselves have to “pay to play.” That’s right. Not receive any money for performing or are shortchanged on verbal agreements. Fair Trade Music calls on clubs to sign a pledge that they will sign a written performance agreement specifying wages, benefits, responsibilities, cancellation policies, terms for merchandizing and a mechanism for resolving disagreements.”
Twenty clubs have already signed the Fair Trade Music pledge.