Artists accuse festival of exploiting local talent
FURIOUS musicians have launched a stinging attack on Canterbury's music festival Lounge on the Farm, accusing organisers of exploiting local bands.
Organisers claim the three-day festival in July provides a showcase which gives experience and exposure.
But a group of rebel performers have launched a backlash saying this policy hits the wrong note.
They have dubbed the festival "Scrounge on the Farm" and want festival bosses to pay ALL acts who grace the stages at Merton Farm.
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Whitstable singer-songwriter Em Peasgood has criticised the festival's You Say They Play competition which invites local bands to compete for a slot in exchange for a festival ticket.
Em, 31, has accused promoters in a blog, of "de-valuing" the work of the county's talented musicians.
She said: "Quite a few musicians feel taken advantage of by Lounge on the Farm. It infuriates me. Many are full-time, professional musicians like myself. Organisers think they are doing us a favour, but this is less about supporting local talent and more about making money."
Em, who teaches choirs to supplement money from gigging, speaks from first-hand experience. Her former band Emily and the Beast played in the festival's first line-up.
She said: "Back then, it was common knowledge that local musicians were unpaid, myself included. But we were keen to be involved because we were excited at the prospect of a good local music festival.
"Sadly, our enthusiasm was short-lived. We were not looked after and were not thanked for our participation. I left with a sour taste in my mouth."
She claims she had trouble even getting in despite her band's name on posters and was forced to lug heavy equipment because she could not park near the festival.
She said several musicians have had similar experiences.
She added: "I get the impression that in the eyes of Lounge on the Farm, the term local musician holds a cheaper currency.
"Every musician is local to somewhere. Last year's headliner Ellie Goulding could be considered local to Canterbury.
"The work doesn't just start when musicians turn up at a venue. They can spend ten years training, which is more than a doctor. It's a highly-skilled job. You wouldn't ask a plumber to do a job for free, so why a musician?"
Another disgruntled musician is Bob Carling, who fronts folk-rock outfit The Acoustic Architects.
He claims he qualified for a slot at the festival after his band attracted enough votes in the You Say They Play competition two years ago but was left embarrassed when organisers failed to honour the agreement.
Bob, who plays at The Unicorn in Bekesbourne and the Old Neptune in Whitstable, said: "We spent a lot of time asking our fans to vote for us but we weren't allowed to perform. When we complained, we were treated appallingly.
"The festival brings in a lot of money through ticket sales so why can't it pay the acts who contribute to that success?"
Also affected is Cut The Funk frontman Paul Jobson who has performed with Chaka Khan and Joss Stone.
He says he is still awaiting payment for a Lounge on the Farm gig two years ago.
He has accused festival bosses of "using and abusing" local talent to fill spaces for free to pay bigger, more well-known acts.
Em has called for a meeting with organisers to discuss the issue and has also started a discussion on the festival's own website.
No one from Lounge on the Farm had replied to the allegations as the Times went to press.
To read Em's blog, visit www.publicemilie.com.
What do you think? Should all musicians be paid to perform at music festivals or is the exposure and experience a sufficient reward? Get in touch by calling 01843 578167 or e-mail lowri.stafford@KRNmedia.co.uk