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Better strategies for herding cats? Forms of solidarity among freelance musicians in London, Paris, and Ljubljana

Better strategies for herding cats? Forms of solidarity among freelance musicians in London, Paris, and Ljubljana

Greer, Ian, Samaluk, Barbara and Umney, Charles (2018) Better strategies for herding cats? Forms of solidarity among freelance musicians in London, Paris, and Ljubljana. In: Doellgast, Virginia, Lillie, Nathan and Pulignano, Valeria, (eds.) Reconstructing Solidarity: Labour Unions, Precarious Work, and the Politics of Institutional Change in Europe. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 166-187. ISBN 978-0198791843

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Abstract

This chapter focuses on freelance musicians in London, Paris and Ljubljana, most of whom are self-employed and engaged in multiple relations with various actors that offer their services, hire them to perform, or act as channels for dissemination and distribution of their music. These mostly one-off engagements are precarious as they lack an ongoing employment contract and involve employment insecurity. In the freelance segment a large reserve army of recent graduates and amateurs pushes down pay and other standards. Unpaid jobs are attractive to many musicians in this market because they are presented as career-development opportunities to access new audiences. Musicians’ desire to work can inspire a fatalism about material conditions that is common to all three cases and which severely limits the organizing potential of unions and institutions. Nonetheless, different forms of solidarity do exist, including ones organized by trade unions and collectives. In France and Slovenia action is directed at protecting highly encompassing welfare institutions that mitigate the consequences of precarity for freelance musicians. Unions help individual members navigate the market through legal advice and events, as well as advocacy for various kinds of state support. Collectives help their members increase their creative autonomy through better access to performance opportunities, while sharing publicity and cutting out profit-extracting intermediaries such as booking agents. Because the advocacy work of unions and collectives is mainly aimed at the state, institutional differences explain some variation in their strategies, but in all cases their effect on precarity is limited by musicians’ aspirations and the features of the market.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Freelance musicians, collectives, trade unions, Slovenia, UK, France
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 09 May 2018 16:33
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: GREAT a
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/19653

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