McDonald’s asked indie band Ex Cops to play at their South by Southwest (SXSW) musical showcase this week, but the company said they can’t pay them anything but exposure because they have no budget to pay artists performing on their stage.
The fast food chain is valued at more than $96 billion and is a major sponsor of SXSW, but apparently can’t afford to pay the musicians working for them, according to Forbes.
The idea of playing for free at SXSW didn’t sit well with band member Brian Harding who penned a response to McDonald’s in an open letter that’s gone viral.
“Their selling point was that this was ‘a great opportunity for additional exposure,’ and that ‘McDonald’s will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc.'”
“In lieu of being paid like a real artist, or anyone who is employed to do a service, McDonald’s assures us that we will “be featured on screens throughout the event, as well as POSSIBLY mentioned on McDonald’s social media accounts like Facebook (57MM likes!)'”
“It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials. Doritos received a lot of flack for their stage a couple years ago, but I’m going to assume they paid Lady Gaga.”
“Oh, I almost forgot; ‘McDonald’s will offer free food to all audience members.'”
“And I’m aware that to achieve any exposure is a Herculean task in 2015, but the Boethian Wheel is a real thing, and this will continue to exist if we, as artists, keep saying yes in exchange for a taste of success. Even if smells like a s—-y Fish filet.”
The pop duo hailing from North Carolina released their second album Daggers in November, 2014 and they’ve worked with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins and Ariel Pink.
Harding says he wrote the letter so people can see how hard is to make it in the music industry today.
“To not offer a band one penny is completely disrespectful,” Harding told the New York Times.
McDonald’s response, including the hastag #slownewsday, did little to douse the fire of criticism spreading across the web, according to Rolling Stone.
“We follow the same standard protocol as other brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival, “McDonald’s Global Media Relations Director Becca Hary told Rolling Stone. “We look forward to serving McDonald’s food, drinks and fun in Austin. #slownewsday”
SXSW, the music concert in Austin, Texas has grown into one of the largest music events in the country and its not uncommon for artists to be sponsored by large corporations, as Lady Gaga showed us when she was sponsored by Doritos.
The pop duo will be performing at SXSW, just not for McDonald’s. They have six appearances scheduled including one for Pandora, for which they’re being paid, according to the New York Times.