Friday, July 13, 2012

Musicians against playing for free at the Olympics: latest update

The news story I wrote for Classical Music Magazine about the pay, or lack of it, for musicians at the the Olympics is here:

The story has been taken up by Sonia Poulton at the Daily Mail. Rare for musicians to find a tabloid trumpeting on their behalf, and it's probably some indication of the widespread strength of feeling on the subject. Very good piece. Read it here.

The Facebook group now has nearly 11,000 members and rising. 

After talking to several of the Facebook group's movers and shakers as well as the ISM and LOCOG itself, here's what I think is happening: a genuine case of absolute cluelessness in the non-musical population about what musicians do. Some suggest that it's something to do with the way everything seems to happen as if by magic for amateurs on TV shows like Britain's Got Talent. But I think it's much more than that. This attitude has been prevalent in Britain for decades, indeed probably centuries.

There needs to be a national campaign - preferably involving schools, colleges, mainstream TV, tabloids and popular radio stations - to show everyone exactly what is involved in becoming a musician and remaining one. Not celebrities trying to conduct in three weeks. Not just the little angels of BBC Young Musician. Something that eavesdrops on the endless hours of practising, the stress of auditions, the anguish of disappointment, the aches and pains and anxieties, and all the rest of it. Oh yes, and the misunderstandings and the insults (intentional or not), and the school bullies (which is where it all begins)... And also the rewards and the standing ovations and the joy of giving a really fabulous performance - in other words, why we do it at all and why, given the choice, most musicians just wouldn't do anything else. Until that's understood by a lot more people, nothing will change.

In the meantime, signing the petition about LOCOG is a good start: