AUSTIN (KXAN)  — On a dreary Thursday morning outside of the Austin Convention Center — the epicenter of the South By Southwest Conference & Festivals — dozens of musicians came together to chant with signs, drums and a megaphone. 

But these musicians were not assembled for a SXSW-sponsored performance. Instead, they were gathered to decry what they called low and unfair compensation rates for appearing and performing at the festival. 

“We are demanding that this festival — that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars — finally fairly compensates the musicians who perform at this festival, who have been getting the same sorry deal for over a decade, where we are offered no payment and a wristband to attend the festival or a paltry $250 if you’re a band or $100 if you are a solo artist,” said Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, an artist from Rhode Island who performed at the festival. 

 “It has been a bad deal for a decade, and they haven’t given us a raise in over a decade,” he continued. 

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), which DeFrancesco cofounded, launched a campaign on Feb. 7. UMAW are asking festival producers to cut the application fee and increase the compensation for a SXSW performance to at least $750, DeFrancesco said.

Since last month, 2,500 artists signed the demands letter, and at the end of the rally, DeFrancesco hand-delivered it to festival officials. 

DeFrancesco said that while the compensation rates for performing have remained stagnant for 10 years, the application fee to perform has increased by 40%, climbing from $40 to $55. 

Currently, participating artists can take the cash for performing or receive a free festival pass. Last year, only 128 of the 1,501 musicians or acts who performed opted to be paid, while the remaining musicians chose to receive the registration package, according to reporting by Axios. 

“If you tally up how many bands applied to the festival, South by Southwest made almost $300,000 just in application fees from musicians,” DeFrancesco said. “At most, they’re paying out around $30,000 to musicians, so you can do the math, right? They’re essentially robbing a quarter of a million dollars from musicians.”

“This is an international festival. If fans are going to keep coming to this and they want artists to keep showing up, then they have to pay us more,” he continued.

District 9 Austin City Council Member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri has expressed his support for UMAW’s mission on Twitter, attending the rally Thursday morning. 

“I love the festival South by Southwest,” Qadri told the crowd. “When you love something, you expect more out of it. You expect it to be better and to do better. It’s very important for there to be fair pay at South by Southwest.” 

SXSW Press and Publicity said the following about today’s rally:

“SXSW is honored to host over 1,400 showcasing acts every March. 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 the event.”