Music and payment issue one that never fades

by James Hendicott
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I should note, before I begin, that while I’m here writing about music, the Dublin Gazette always pays me on time and without issue.

Now that we’ve got that little piece of admin out of the way, it’s time to point at a broader issue in music. Non-payment.

Earlier this week, well-known music writer Pete Paphides took to Twitter to call out a company associated with Olivia Newton John for non-payment, after two years, around his 5,500 word piece of writing used to accompany her two Greatest Hits releases. I genuinely do not say this for comic effect: writing 5,500 words about the career of Olivia Newton John and making it a great read is a skill. It’s not easy. What followed the tweet was a barrage of agreement from freelance music industry types.

Unfortunately this culture is pervasive in music from top to bottom, and we’ve all experienced it. From the artists’ constant battle not to have their music used for free promotion, to being asked to play gigs for free, it seems to be an accepted norm that large organisations can take the time and effort of those around music and use it at no cost to them.

After all, if Spotify values music at less than a cent per play, why should anyone care? The answer, of course, is to try and imagine a life without music, or the broader arts scene: TV without a soundtrack, every shop silent, every ad lacking melody.

Valuing the arts is a difficult thing, and admittedly, music media is peripheral to the arts, though, for what it’s worth, my experience is that most artists value it. What really needs to happen, though, is we all contribute to what we use and enjoy, as far as we can. Big, wealthy companies – often the worst offenders – in particular.

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