Wednesday, June 05, 2013


We artists may lack the hard handed romance of coal miners or factory workers, but we’re getting ultra screwed too and our pal Barry Hoskyns has just drawn the line…

“Calling all freelance content providers (musicians, writers, actors, photographers, designers etc):

Join me in WITHDRAWING UNPAID LABOUR from the creative and media industries. The exploitation of freelance content providers has gone on too long, and we are all responsible for letting it happen.

Please do not:
• Write, act, photograph or design for free
• Provide images, music or performances for free 
• Do radio or television interviews for free

If a company or corporation asks you to provide your time and skills for nothing, TURN IT DOWN. You have nothing to lose by saying NO.
If you have any concern at all for your economic future as a content provider – and for the future of subsequent generations of such providers – please don't ignore this issue. 
PASS THE WORD ON to any content providers you know. 

Further thoughts for those with a slightly longer attention span…

• If you allow yourself to be seduced by the myth that your unpaid labour will "look good on your c.v." (or equivalent blah), try to see that you jeopardise not only the welfare of your replaceable elders but your OWN long-term economic future. 
• You set up a paradigm whereby you in turn become replaceable. The rolling exploitation of unpaid workers and perpetual interns is based on a false notion of deferred reward. 
• If we do not start demanding recompense, ultimately humans will have no value. As Jaron Lanier states in his essential new book WHO OWNS THE FUTURE?, "Capitalism only works if there are enough successful people to be the customers."
• How is it that our online habits have huge big-data value to tax-avoidant entities like Google, Facebook and Amazon yet NO VALUE WHATSOEVER when we request payment for our contributions to the networked information economy?
• We must return to the core humanist principle of valuing not just institutions and material things but actual living humans. 
• If the present economic paradigm prevails, it will vindicate Margaret Thatcher's contention that there is no such thing as society. Wouldn't it be nice to prove her wrong?

• If you are making money from the labour of others, then you should share that wealth with them. 
• If you knowingly exploit somebody while telling yourself, "Why would I pay someone if s/he's willing to work for nothing?", how do you sleep at night?
• If you habitually hire interns, at what point does their work experience end? At what point does somebody actually become WORTH PAYING? 
• The culture of internship and work experience sustains class inequality, because only privileged kids can work for free. Only THEY receive the economic subsidy the government withholds from those born poor and with little hope of educational betterment. 
• This is not only a moral but a MARKET imperative. In the long term markets will collapse if there aren't enough people sharing in the wealth. 


Barney also adds a footnote from dreadlocked Silicon Valley maverick Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns The Future?:

“As much as it pains me to say so, we can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists and photographers. What is not survivable is the additional destruction of the middle classes in transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education and health care. And all that destruction will come surely enough if the dominant idea of an information economy isn’t improved.”

The secret word is Slave


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough I came here to post this from Guardian article on Lanier in response to your bollocks about giving up the blog in favour of Facebook - but here will do:

"The web has gone from being what geeks call a client-server model to one dominated by what Lanier calls "siren servers" such as Facebook, which hold billions of internet users in thrall without sharing the wealth that they generate with the people who create that wealth in the first place. In the Odyssey, Circe warns Odysseus against the Sirens "who enchant all who come near them". If anyone unwarily draws in too close to them, she says, "his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song". Facebook addicts, please copy."

I always also wonder that since the corps could shut down illegal media copying quite easily, why don't they?

mrjohn said...

If you are working somebody is making money, make sure it is you.

Mr Jones said...

Does that mean no more free concerts in the park, maaan? Bummer.

Mick said...

Hell no. If it's free show, I'll work free anytime. Same as I'll work for free for some subverse start-up rag, but not to increas some asshole's profit margin.

Anonymous said...

i only can tell how i handle this since more than 30 years and i'm doing/feeling fine that way:

i completely live in/from/for the counterculture via playing in bands, painting & drawing for radical political campaigns & stuff, writing in fanzines...
doing that all for free exept the music side, where i also play a lot of benefit stuff, but im after the royalties and also charge money for commercial gigs.

but mainly i make ends meet by tattooing.

i'm doing all the free stuff for my comrades/the antifascist & revolutionary movement and not for some c...s wich are already stuffed with money- that's why i'm after the royalties, because my bands had quite a bit of airplay, where the radio stations had to pay for it to bloody GEMA (i'm german)- if i/my bands wouldn't go for that money, some rich bastards will share our part of the cake.

but i always tell people to download my stuff for free from blogs. if they want to support me, they can buy some vinyl at our gigs- but not at big record shops. that also is the way i handle it: i love to downl<ad quite a lot from blogs for free- but if there's an existing band behind it, i gonna visit their gigs and buy some vinyl directly from them- so i can be sure the money ends in their pocket and not in some capitalist's bank account.

i also refuse to do shit like google, facebook and all that class enemy traps.

Mick said...

You seem to have it pretty much sussed out. My own approach to paid and unpaid work is not dissimilar.