FAIR PLAY UK
A new website created by two local musicians aims to provide more local work for the best local talent.
www.fairplayuk.com has been founded by Johnny Stubbs, a professional guitarist and member of several function bands, and wife Carly, singer of folk act Pipe and Tabor, who have twice supported Joan Armatrading on tour.
The website not only aims to provide more local work for bands, but also hopes to hand the initiative back to musicians and away from increasingly profitable agencies.
AAH spoke to Carly Stubbs to find out more...
What inspired the idea for fairplayuk.com?
Johnny is a professional musician and plays guitar in several bands, all of which are represented by agencies. The agencies do generate work, but they are taking a huge proportion of the fee and we think it’s unfair.
Don’t agents typically take a big percentage?
In the music industry, agencies may be taking up to 50% with the band left to split the rest. That’s not always the case - there are good ones too - but some of the bigger ones are taking too much money from the musicians.
Why are musicians allowing that to happen?
Ultimately, management companies and agencies are using the Internet in a way that musicians are not. They have created beautiful websites and present musical acts in a way that is easy for the buying public to understand. So if, for instance, you are seeking a band for your wedding, you will search on Google and most likely be directed to an agency website, with a list of acts and a price for booking them.
But that’s not the price the band will receive?
No. A band may play at a wedding having cost £2,000, yet the musicians are probably getting half of that. Which isn’t fair on the band, or the person booking.
Why are bands not doing their own thing?
They are musicians, not web designers or Google rankings experts. It is very difficult for a band to find regular work if they are not associated with a national agency. So the musicians have had to ‘play ball’. It is an unfair system, but until there is an alternative nothing will change because musicians rely on live performances for income.
So you looked at creating that alternative?
At the moment, my husband - and the fantastic musicians he performs with - play all over the country, earning no more between them than somebody sat behind a computer. We thought that there had to be a fairer way. Johnny and I put the word around to gauge interest and everyone felt much the same. So we set upfairplayuk.com
How does it work?
In terms of how it looks, it is much like your average agency site. People look through the different bands and singers available. We have swing bands, funk bands, pop and rock bands, party bands, and acoustic acts. You go watch videos of the acts in many cases, or listen to a demo, and if you find a band that you like, send us an email or text message, or call us.
Can you book online?
No, not directly, because we don’t want bands to be exclusively available via fairplayuk. We are not an agency that has ownership over acts. So we receive an enquiry and then contact the acts to see if they are available.
Are the acts paid more?
The price of every band is based on each member being paid the right amount of money. Then fairplayuk takes a small amount of top of that. Overall, the musicians are better paid, and the booking cost is lower.
Is this idea solely about money?
The lack of fairness is a big part of it, but our other concern is that local bands are not getting local jobs. People are booking through national agencies and as a result musicians are travelling all over the UK. You may have a fantastic function band from Manchester performing at a wedding in Horsham, whilst a fantastic function band from Horsham is at a wedding in Manchester. It is ridiculous. We want to work with hotels, businesses and local venues as we have enough excellent local bands to take the local work.
Can any musician join fairplayuk?
The bands we represent are of a high quality. The concept is for professional musicians to be fairly paid for their work. There is a great scene for local acts to develop, with very good open mic nights provided by the likes of Jamie Stanley, and excellent events like The Horsham Battle of the Bands. However, we are looking at established bands as we want our clients to be raving about the acts they book through fairplayuk.com
So who do you have already?
We have One Two Step on the books. They are a brilliant function band that regularly play across Europe. Imperial Grooves are one of the best Motown and soul acts in the country, with MOBO award winning musicians. We also have some of the best local function bands including The Malfunctions and Lady M and the Mr Men. There is a good cross-section of bands, covering different musical genres, and because we have a growing network of musicians involved, people are starting to recommend new acts.
Can individual musicians sign up too?
Yes, professional musicians can join fairplayuk.com and we expect that to develop in the next year. Soon, we hope that if a local venue needs, for instance, a saxophonist, they can find one through us. Also, we have a musician’s lottery. At Christmas, we will make a draw and one of the acts will take the winnings. It’s a nice little incentive!
Here are some of the bands involved with Fair Play UK...
‘This choreographed 7-piece will guarantee to fill your dance floor. Favourites on the corporate circuit, this tight group of professional mobo award winning performers provide a brilliant soundtrack and put on a show which will leave your guests breathless!’
'Claire is a talented professional saxophonist available for hire as a solo performer. Claire plays all variety’s of genres from Jazz to reggae bringing the sax beautifully and easily into any setting.’
LADY M AND THE MR MEN
‘One of the best loved function bands around, they have a reputation for providing a high energy party atmosphere with music, spanning from the 50’s to the current day’
‘Male led high energy party band! If you want your guests dancing on the tables this is the band for you!’
'One of the South’s most prestigious and professional live party bands. Available in a variety of formats from a two-piece all the way up to a seven-piece complete with brass section, they play music from the 60’s to current day.'
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
'A well established duo singing folk and pop classics with percussive/ acoustic guitar.'
View some of the band's videos below. Or to find out more or to hear music from the acts involved in Fair Play UK, visit the website at www.fairplayuk.com