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Youth Music calls for end to unpaid internships in music sector

By | Published on Friday 7 June 2019

The boss of music education charity Youth Music – Matt Griffiths – has called on the music industry and the arts at large to put an end to unpaid internships and low paid work.

Griffiths was speaking after his organisation was presented with the Funding Champion prize at the Living Wage Champion Awards this week, in recognition of its work tackling low pay in the arts and culture sector.

Although unpaid internships in the music industry are not quite as common as they once were – mainly because the government started better enforcing the law on such things a few years back – Griffiths says that some in the sector continue to take advantage of young people’s passion for music in order to get cheap or free labour.

He also cited the charity’s own Sound Of The Next Generation research that found that 67% of young people make music but feel a music career is out of reach for financial reasons.

Youth Music says that it encourages all the music education organisations it supports to pay its people at least the ‘living wage’ – which is higher than the minimum wage set by law – and also to become accredited living wage employers. It has also launched an initiative called Youth Music Creatives which offers paid opportunities to help young people pursue a music career, and it is currently looking to the music industry to support that programme.

Echoing the remarks made by Griffiths at the Living Wage Champion Awards, Youth Music’s COO Angela Linton added yesterday: “As an organisation supporting young people’s lives in music, it is particularly important to us to ensure that our funding enables the workforce to be fairly paid. Unlike the government minimum wage, the real Living Wage applies equally to those under 25. Historically, the music industry has been rife with unpaid internships, and Youth Music calls for an end to these practices now”.