Fair Trade Music
Fair Trade Music is an organization founded in Portland, OR, with chapters opening in major music markets across North America. Their mission is to connect “musicians, venues, and fans to promote a healthy music business—one that pays musicians fair wages.”
The main way they do this is to certify “Fair Trade Music” venues for paying musicians fairly. If you’ve ever drawn hundreds of people and been paid peanuts, if you’ve ever been stiffed on a guarantee, if you’ve ever been asked to do all the show promotion or ticket sales for a venue, Fair Trade Music has your back.
Rather than waging a war on shady venues and promoters, Fair Trade takes a more positive approach. Thanks to “Fair Trade Music” certification, artists in a growing number of music markets now have a reliable guide as to who they can trust as partners in their live business. This may not prevent you from having to play at venues with unfair payment terms, of course. As in all sectors of the music industry, some companies will simply exploit you because they can, leveraging your need for exposure to pay you less. We’re happy organizations like Fair Trade Music exist to dissuade this opportunistic behavior to enable more sustainable music business relationships.
The site is endorsed by the American Federation of Musicians (who maintain the venue blacklist among other things) and other advocacy groups.