Fair Trade Music connects musicians, venues, and fans to promote a healthy music business—one that pays musicians fair wages.
We certify that venues have “Fair Trade Music” when they pay wages and benefits that are fair to both the musicians and the venue — that respect the livelihood of the performers, yet don’t put the venue out of business.
Seattle musicians: come to the Fair Trade Music meeting tonight. It’s open to working musicians of all genres. Guest speaker: Dmitri Iglitzin on the legal rights of working musicians. He’ll give a short but invaluable presentation on the legal rights of working musicians followed by a short Q & A session.
If you have needed answers to questions about contracts, cash payments, non-payment etc. this is the time to ask!
Dmitri Iglitzin is a partner in the law firm of Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt, Seattle, Washington. He received his B.A. from Yale University, magna cum laude, and his J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law, magna cum laude.
He represents numerous unions, including affiliates of the American Federation of Musicians, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, the Laborers International Union, the Service Employees International Union, AFTRA, IATSE, and the American Federation of Teachers. Among his most notable legal accomplishments is the case of Wingert v. Yellow Freight Systems, Inc., which resulted in a decision by the Washington State Supreme Court holding that all workers in Washington State have a legally enforceable right to a paid ten-minute rest period for every three hours of work.
Welcome to Fair Trade Music AFM, a website designed to connect the dots of the growing Fair Trade Music movement. Founded in Portland, Oregon, Fair Trade Music is opening new chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Get involved today!
It’s not easy being a club musician in Seattle, no matter what genre or type of music you play. We are the working-stiff musicians. We are the ones exploited by club owners and promoters who want a great show, but who don’t want to pay the piper.
We routinely play three or four-hour gigs and only get paid what the club makes from the admission of patrons at the door, or even less sometimes. The current way we are paid for our work, makes our lives and our careers unsustainable. Getting receipts from the door brings our pay to about 50 cents an hour — way below the minimum wage. To us, one show means hours of preparation time, rehearsal time, equipment purchase or rental, travel time back and forth from the gig, parking, demo taping and much more. We get exploited for the love of the music. But for us, hope reigns supreme. Maybe one show will bring us a contract, or maybe we will have a good night where pay and atmosphere meld together.
The current situation in most music venues in Seattle is unfair, unsustainable and doesn’t actually support the creation of great music or support a family. But we know local musicians are the life of the city. National groups come and go, are expensive to see and do not represent the inner core of a town. Local musicians are the town’s heartbeat.
But that heartbeat can’t sustain life the way club musicians are paid now. We are expected to bring our own fans to shows by doing the majority of the marketing and advertising, we are expected to perform for almost no wages, provide hours of entertainment, call the club booker 20 or 30 times to get the booking and then be happy with the proceeds we bring in at the door. Sometimes we even have to pay for the doorman out of our percentage of door proceeds, and then we are expected to go home happy… and then try it all again for a re-booking.