Various music unions, musicians gather for Fair Pay at SXSW rally in NYC

Various music organisations including the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), Secretly Group Union, the NYC-DSA, Bandcamp United, and the Music Workers Alliance gathered at the offices of Penske Media Corporation in New York last week. According to Pitchfork, they gathered for a rally in support of UMAW’s Fair Pay at SXSW campaign at the headquarters of the festival’s main stakeholder. The rally featured speeches from musicians Marc Ribot, Joe Dyson, Joey La Neve DeFrancesco of Downtown Boys, and Victoria Ruiz.

Penske Media Corporation owns prominent publications such as Variety, Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Artforum, among others. In April 2021, the company acquired a 50% stake in SXSW. The festival has historically paid the majority of its performers between $100 and $250, in addition to charging application fees. UMAW launched its Fair Pay at SXSW campaign in February,  prior to this year’s festival, and received hundreds of signatures for an open letter. Penske Media Corporation responded at the time, stating that they appreciated the feedback from UMAW and would review their policies after the event.

During this year’s SXSW, UMAW organised an unofficial showcase where each act was paid $750, meeting UMAW’s proposed minimum compensation rate. In early May, UMAW announced their latest action, and a union representative estimated that approximately 150 to 200 people attended the rally.