I’m Almost There. Please Help My Crusade to Get Musicians Playing the Olympics Paid

You know the drill: make enough noise, get enough signatures, garner enough press, and the powers that be start to change their tune.

Which is exactly the strategy being employed by jazz/folk/electronica artist Corey Mwamba.  His change.org petition to demand payment for musicians and artists playing the upcoming Olympics has almost hit 5,000 signatures, a critical early threshold.

Here’s his plea.  If you agree with what he has to say, consider signing the petition.

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“Ensure the payment of arts practitioners performing for Olympic events”



I’m writing to highlight one of the many issues around the Olympics; and to ask if you would consider signing a petition in support of arts practitioners.

Arts practice is not just a joy to experience and a marker for culture in a civilisation; but also a profession.

There have been reports (most of which stem from the Corporate Watch report) and evidence from musicians that show that LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] seems to understand the drawing power of music and the arts for its entertainment, but holds those who make up the profession in low esteem.  In short, LOCOG is not paying professional musicians for performing, citing that the publicity is adequate compensation.

This is a fiction: currently on the London 2012 site, it is impossible to find a listing of all musical groups performing at all of the opening events: only headline acts are mentioned.

LOCOG’s “policy” of not paying musicians has had a lot of publicity – but who knows what the policy is for other art forms?

Putting aside whether you like sport or not, the Olympic Games are costly.  Everything needs to paid and accounted for.  The mystery is why arts practitioners like musicians are not included on the balance sheet, especially when the service they are being asked to provide – the entertainment of the spectators and showing the best of the host nation – is such a vital part of the Olympics (see the Olympic Charter recommendations for National Olympic Committees, point 3.2).  To have omitted financial accounting for the arts would seem poor planning and a shame for the United Kingdom – a major exporter of its arts.

There are other professions involved with staging events and providing services around the Games that are being contracted and paid. The relationship with the arts in this case is and should be no different.

It isn’t enough to just say “no” to performing: We all can say “no” – and several have. But all that happens is that someone who will say “yes” will be found – the situation and unfairness remains, and the next time we’ll have to say “no” again – no one learns anything.

The petition is about **highlighting and explaining** the unfair situation that’s being presented by LOCOG and changing it so that as artists we don’t HAVE to say “no” repeatedly to publicly funded bodies asking for the arts to ameliorate their events for free when they have the budget to pay.

The aim of the petition is to send a clear message to LOCOG to acknowledge the arts as a valued profession that should have been accounted for in its financial planning for the Games events; and that if LOCOG intends to use the arts they should pay for it.

I do hope you’ll consider supporting our cause. If you do, you can sign it here:


– Corey Mwamba

5 Responses

  1. Visitor

    You also don’t get paid to play the superbowl.

    I have two friends playing in the Olympic Ceremony, they are getting paid, by the artists and bands who hired them. So, yes their employers are “paying to play” but to them it’s worth it.

    No one is entitled to anything.

    • bp

      i like to make the “they’re not entitled to anything…” argument for bands that nobody actually listens to who aren’t making money off their work, but this is a completely different thing.

      the olympics is pretty much an industry with tons of corporate sponsors and these artists are being asked to play. the whole situation is fucked up.

      • bp

        but i do agree that they can just say no to playing.

  2. Visitor

    How about you just not play unless they pay you? I know, crazy idea right.

  3. Tish

    This is just another example of how things are going.

    Next time we’ll all hear how it will be pay to play!

    For some reason big events like this seem to think that they can get something for nothing. Now that’s fine if you are a superstar or whatever, it is good publicity etc, and you can afford to take the loss, but for most bands / artists this is not the case, and they are playing purely for the exposure they thought they would get. However, when people like LOCOG don’t publicise who is playing, and when that kind of behaviour goes on (with the exception of publicising the stars performances) the whole idea of exposure for an up and coming band / artist goes out of the window.

    There are so many venues in the UK and Ireland who now have this attitude, and it is killing the live music scene. Bands / artists cant afford to go out and play because there is no return, not even a chance to break even!

    LOCOG should be championing the small bands / artists, leading the way, and paying the bands / artists enough to cover their expenses whould be part of that. However, sporting people really only think about themselves, and here in britian where we like to think of ourselves as “Sporting” ie. we give everyone a chance, the attitude of Seb Coe and co at LOCOG proves that sportsmen really arent “Sporting” at all – rather, they are selfish, and unfair.

    I wouldn’t play at the Olympics! No way. No fee – no performance!