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Unpaid Intern Musicians?!?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Roy Vogt, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    This week something really troubling happened at my job. A student came in and in passing showed me some number charts he had prepared for an audition later that day for a new Taylor Swift type singer on a Major Nashville Label. As we talked further he let me know what he was auditioning for was an unpaid intern position in her band. This is personally disgusting to me and extremely exploitive of young players and their naivete and ambitions. Too boot, this violates any AFM agreements. However, since this is the Act's Management ( Mommy and Daddy is my best guess) and Tennessee is a Right to Work state nothing can be done other than warn younger players not to do this latest nasty version of Pay to Play. Shameful!
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    What's worse is that it will quickly catch on also. Would someone rather play in a nowhere original band for free, or a big band with great shows and management for free. Sucks to be a musician sometimes. :D:bawl:
  3. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Unpaid intern? That's what music college is for. :)

    Otherwise, this is not good. Wasn't there a recent post on FB (that went viral) about a young lady that wasn't paying her musicians? Everyone was shunning her and her music.
  4. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Yes there was. I am going to call Dave Pomeroy at the Nashville Musicians Association later today and see what if anything can be done. This stinks.
    If it is a Label Act there is no excuse as this would normally be a paid professional position. Lots of kids do internships at businesses, but this is totally different.
  5. You know what, I agree it's bad, but at the same time, there are tons of college kids doing the same thing.
  6. How is it different than a kid doing an internship at a business?
  7. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    Without knowing specifics, it seems different because this is not part of an established, formalized process of introduction into a career, like Law or Medicine, or even Teaching, that the intern is not yet qualified for.

    If a musician auditions for a performance position, and wins, it's reasonable to assume that that musician, regardless of age or experience is capable of doing the job at an acceptable level. In other words, they are ALREADY qualified to be a professional.

    I imagine that these players are not likely to be made partners in the band, professional exposure for a sideman position is usually minimal and I expect there is little chance that their position will become paid at a later date.

    This is essentially a labor position, it would be like asking your roofer to work for free in order to gain experience.
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    It's different in this way, guys. The American Federation of Musicians has scales for touring musicians and recording musicians with all the Major Labels (including Big Machine Records which this act is apparently on). Hiring non-paid labor for one of those positions in the Studio, for TV Work, or on Tour is in violation of that agreement. This is not like a Kid Band like Kings of Leon rehearsing in a garage, cutting a demo and trying to get a deal All-for-One, One-for-All. This is a Professional Act with a Record Contract with hired and paid (or in this case non-paid) Sidemen-it's a totally different thing. I realize a lot of you guys out there don't do this for a living, but this is a very, very dangerous precedent for those who hope to work in the Music Business as Touring Musicians or Studio Players. I had heard of a Jingle House here in town that had always drawn most of their Talent from Non-Union CCM players hiring musicians to work on Jingles from the Interns and paying them $25 an hour. It's totally crooked-the Act has Tour Support, Booking Fees for Appearances, etc. and the Jingle House is being paid very well for their product and certainly payroll is the cost of doing business for any business including a Recording Act. That's the big difference.
    Happy to explain.
  9. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    That is exactly my point.
  10. Apprentices work for free to learn a craft. This guy is a student he's not a seasoned pro. I'm playing devils advocate here. And I can almost guarantee this is the thought process.

    Anyways musicians are not laborers, musicians aren't "artists". Musicians are professionals. I wouldn't consider anyone who's invested thousands of hours, thousands of dollars in education and equipment to be in a labor position or an "artist" happy to have someone view their work. To me a labor position is something you can fill with raw manpower.

    If we can change this perception about what musicians are then maybe how we're treated will change.
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    This would not be an apprentice situation. My students do free sessions at the recording studios on campus, they play for free on student recitals, they even do free/cheap demos and door gigs. It's part of getting your foot in the door. This is a Major Label Act, that's not a foot in the door. That's a Real Act in the Real Music Business. I was working in Showrooms in Pit Orchestras when I was a student and making the same as the Pro Players because we were all Union. That was Real Music Business, even though I was a student and I was paid for it. There are plenty of free apprenticeship situations in Music School.
    This is like Lucasfilms/Disney trying to staff a picture shoot with grips/cameramen/best boys, etc. from the UCLA Film School Interns.

  12. The question we have to ask is why is this even happening in the first place. What is it about the perception of who a musician is that encourages companies to do this?

    Some of it has to do with the poor economy, a large part of it has to do with the stereotypical "persona" of who a musician is.

    How do we change that?
  13. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I think the artist should be outed publicly (Not necessarily here, by you Roy). This stuff happens because nobody calls them on it.
  14. sludgelord3000

    sludgelord3000 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Interns in my office make copies, put away files and go on Starbucks runs. They do NOT do the same work as upper management.

    If a musician is good enough to play the parts, he or she is good enough to get paid. There’s really no moral wiggle room there. Age, seasoning or educational status have nothing to do with it. All that matters is can you play? If the answer is yes, then you deserve professional pay.

    Hell, my dad used to do three-set club gigs with Tony Williams when Tony was just 15. Two years later Tony was playing with Miles Davis. Tony got paid.
  15. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Very well stated. If the musician were unqualified (and thus needed more training from the pros on this tour) he would never make it to the stage in the first place. As it stands, this kid can play the parts. No more training needed for this particular gig. They would NEVER take a kid out and put him on stage hoping that (with more training) he will learn to be a player at some later date.

    This is all bad. No upside for the musicians here.
  16. Apprentices DO NOT work for free! A plumber's apprentice, or electrician's apprentice, doesn't get full scale, but they don't work for free!!

    I think equating a musician to a tradesman, like plumber, carpenter, electrician, or HVAC gut, is a reasonable equality. Whether you consider those professions or not is debatable, but in any case a high level of expertise is expected along with ownership of all the specialized tools needed to do the job right.
  17. RichardCranium

    RichardCranium Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    Boynton Bch FL
    This sounds like another one of those "it'll be great exposure for you" sort of deals where it looks a lot better than is is.
  18. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I can see this as a very exploitive situation through and through. Assume they pick the best player they can find, but given lack of experience there may be some mistakes and glitches. Well imagine the pressure that can be put on the player knowing that he/she doesn't have a contract, isn't paid and there are others lining up to be exploited in the same way. The position can continually be dangled as one mistake away from being let go. That wouldn't/shouldn't happen in that manner under professional contracted services.
    I'm not sure I made the point I was trying to make. This situation doersn't offer the slightest security a usual hiring would and I suspect that may be used to magnify the exploitation.
  19. handofseven

    handofseven Soaking up the cathode rays... Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2010
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    In my neck of the woods, this is against the law. As far as I know, apprentices work under a journeyman, at a lesser wage, in order to supplement with experience, what they are learning in school. No one works for free, unless you are a volunteer.
  20. How's the musicians union treat this? Is there a journeyman designation for musicians or anything like that?