April 5, 2012 : Olympics 'policy' not to pay musicians

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The organisers of the London Olympics have been happy to hand huge amounts of public money to multinational companies but are refusing to pay the musicians they are asking to perform at the Games, Corporate Watch can reveal.

Professional musicians approached by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) have been told its policy is not to pay artists and that they should do it “for the exposure”. In addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, LOCOG is contracting professional musicians to to provide entertainment and atmosphere at sporting events during the Games.

One musician in a band asked by LOCOG to perform at various Olympic venues told Corporate Watch:

“they said they were really keen for us to play on major stages at different events. We replied quoting our normal fees. After months of meetings they offered us a raft of gigs but said it was LOCOG’s policy not to pay any musicians for performing. They should stop trying to capitalise on the image of the Olympics and pay a fair rate for our services.”

Another, who also wishes to remain anonymous, said LOCOG had asked them to sign contracts agreeing to be volunteers so they would be under no obligation to pay them.

A LOCOG email seen by Corporate Watch says the policy not to pay musicians is being implemented “across the board”.

A LOCOG spokesperson said he did not think there was a set policy, but that as far as he knew artists would not be paid and would be doing it for the publicity.

The Musicians' Union said they would investigate and talk to LOCOG. A spokesperson said: “if it turns out to be true then it flies in the face of assurances that we have been given regarding the engaging of professional musicians during games time. Furthermore, it would appear to be a breach of the Principles of Cooperation that LOCOG agreed with the TUC."

LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe has promised to “place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when securing goods and services,” but with the cost of the Games spiralling, in part due to the huge contracts being given to the Games' corporate suppliers, the organisers appear to have targeted the musicians' payments as a way to make savings.

LOCOG was criticised by the Public Accounts Committee last month for not taking a tough enough stance with the notorious outsourcing company G4S, which is being paid £284 million to organise security at the Games. Committee chair Margaret Hodge said “there is a big question mark over whether it secured a good deal for the taxpayer". Other corporate beneficiaries include the defence profiteer Booz Allen Hamilton, management consultants Capgemini UK and construction giants Balfour Beatty.

Like G4S, they are not satisfied simply with exposure from the Games. So why does LOCOG think musicians should be?