The Musicians’ Union says plans to have an unsigned bands competition at the Olympics is another example of LOCOG trying to employ professional musicians for no payment.
Unsigned Band Review is looking for 80 acts to perform to hundreds of thousands of visitors over the course of the Games in the Olympic Park – for no fee.
Horace Trubridge, MU assistant general secretary said: "LOCOG is saying this is okay because the bands are going to be amateur musicians, but that is simply not true. If it was school bands then it might be a different thing but unsigned bands are not amateurs - in many cases they expect, and get, paid for performing live and LOCOG is exploiting them under the guise of an unsigned band competition.
"LOCOG has repeatedly told us that all professional musicians will be paid, and this is yet another example of them breaking their word. If they want musicians to entertain thousands of people then they should pay for it. It is difficult enough to earn a decent living as a professional musician these days – where does this idea come from that musicians should be happy to work for free? Who else would be?
"This competition aside, the MU has been gathering countless recent examples of LOCOG directly approaching professional musicians to play for free. We are asking the Government and the Mayor of London to condemn LOCOG’s actions and we are also calling on musicians who have been asked to work for free at the Olympics to refuse to play."
Steve Haynes, professional musician with Barbican Brass added: "As a professional musician I was outraged to receive an email from LOCOG 'looking for talent' and asking Barbican Brass to play unpaid at a venue in the Olympic park. Apparently it was a chance to showcase our talent. LOCOG is completely disregarding the terms of its agreement with the MU at a time when I could really do with the work due to my show being closed over the Olympics. I can't imagine other professions being asked to work for free."
Artist Manager JC. Caddy said: "In the current music industry climate the live sector is the only real place artists and musicians can make decent money and for the biggest sporting and creative event globally to be devaluing musicians by not giving them the chance to be paid for their work is completely out of order, alongside the fact that the London 2012 Olympic committee is breaking an agreement with the MU about paying musicians.”
The LOCOG response – aired on the BBC – was that they were not aware of any official approaches to professional musicians to ask them to work for free.
The MU says this is completely untrue and has been sending LOCOG examples of professional musicians being asked to play Olympic gigs for which there is no budget. It also says it has the emails from LOCOG staff, to prove it.
The MU has written to the London Mayor and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to ask them to put pressure on LOCOG and is urging any musician who is approached to call their MU Regional Office and report it.