AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) launched a campaign on Feb. 7 against the South by Southwest, or SXSW, festival, claiming that musicians are underpaid, with some artists receiving only $100 for their performances, according to a UMAW page on Action Network.

The union says that performers are offered entry wristbands, or $100 for solo and duo performers and $250 for bands. This claim is supported by the SXSW Support webpage. International performers only receive entry wristbands and are not paid at all.

The webpage also states that “some acts may be scheduled for more than one” performance, and that they will not receive additional pay.

Los Angeles-based musician and UMAW member Joel Jerome Morales says that the pay isn’t enough to even start to cover artist’s expenses.

“That amount of money isn’t enough for any four-piece band to actually travel out to Texas, to pay for room and board, or to pay for everything involved with a trip, not to mention the hours of putting into their work,” Morales said. “Music is labor, being in a band is labor. This festival brings in a lot of money, and musicians aren’t seeing any of it.”

“Since SXSW launched in 1987, musicians have been the festival’s backbone and main draw,” reads the UMAW’s letter to SXSW and Penske Media, “Yet despite SXSW’s consistently growing profits and ever-expanding programming over the past 30+ years, the musicians performing at the festival have been exploited with low pay, high application fees, and other insults.”

The campaign has four demands:

  • Increase compensation for performers to at least $750;
  • Include a festival wristband in addition to financial compensation;
  • Pay parity for domestic and international performers; and,
  • An end to application fees for performers.

Information about the application fees was not accessible on the SXSW website, but the union claims that the fee is currently $55. This is around half of the pay for single artists and duos, and 20% of the pay for bands.

SXSW’s press office provided a response to KXAN on Wednesday.

“SXSW is honored to host over 1,400 showcasing acts every March,” the statement reads, “We are committed to creating professional opportunities by bringing emerging artists together with media, the global music industry, and influential audiences. We appreciate the feedback from the UMAW and will be doing our policy review after next month’s event.”

As of Wednesday, 1984 performers and bands signed the UMAW’s petition.

“Bands are making this whole thing happen. You do get push back, as far as like, ‘bands should be struggling’ or ‘you should struggle as an artist’ and ‘you should be happy just doing something you love,'” Morales said. “I think that mentality is so hurtful for people that are just living a real life, have rent to pay, a family and have bills. I feel that people need to not just support us musically with [their] love, but give us support on this campaign.”