Reader: Musicians Are Always Getting Screwed on Their Pay

Aidan Pagnani is one of the founders of the Colorado Musicians Union.
Aidan Pagnani is one of the founders of the Colorado Musicians Union.
Ali Jay
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After a year of unemployment, Colorado musicians are fed up with low rates and poor treatment by venues, according to guitarist Aidan Pagnani. So he and sax player Sarah Mount formed the Colorado Musicians Union, with a goal of changing that sorry situation.

The new union, which has been coming together over the past year and a half, is now asking gigging musicians to do the following: refuse any contract resulting in under $100 per person per gig or $500 per band if groups exceed five members; push musicians and fan bases to build inclusive and safe communities that exclude fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, prejudice and harmful ideologies; and boycott or strike against any venue or business after a union-member vote demands it — specifically, boycott any bar that Jay Bianchi is affiliated with, including So Many Roads Museum and Brewery and Sancho’s Broken Arrow.

While the accusations against Bianchi are very specific, pay around town for musicians in general is bad, the founders say. And in their Westword Facebook comments on the Colorado Musician Unions post, readers agree. Says Rick:

Yeah, never been a fan of Mister Bianchi and his miserly ways. So kudos to the union for targeting him.

Notes Alison:

They're not asking much. I got $100 per gig minimum with my band back in the early 1980s and they are asking for that now.

Responds Max:

Exactly! The fact that it's been a standard in the past means that it shouldn't be difficult to re-establish that standard now. Especially when $100 is worth a lot less now than it was in the early 1980s!

Adds Jeannie:

My husband was in a band; they were always getting screwed on their pay.

Wonders Damon:

What about corporate venue pay scale? Or is this just directed at "indie" venues?

Replies Scott:

I’m confident local bands make more money playing the Oriental Theater than they do at any AEG or Live Nation venue.

What do you think of the Colorado Musicians Union? What do you think base pay should be? Post a comment or email editorial at westword.com.

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