The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) has backflipped on a call out asking for musicians to perform for free at its 2017 event, following a sizable backlash from Australia’s music community.
A number of musicians and industry figures shared the advertisement, found circulating Gumtree – and took the opportunity to call out the festival, which is set to host several dozen vendors and suppliers and charge patrons $35 entry.
Melbourne artist Holly Norman penned a long letter to MICE on Facebook, calling out the event for “requesting a free service for professionals,” and hoped that ” the volume of backlash you’re receiving on social media will give you an idea of how you could approach this differently in the future.”
Drummer for Melbourne band The Badloves, Jeff Consi, was one to post a screenshot of the ad, writing “Thanks but no thank$. Can only imagine the $ you are making and then pay a musician in ‘exposure'”
Following Consi’s post, MICE initially defended the job advertisement, writing “We had the option to play a Spotify playlist but wanted to give some local musicians trying to get their music in front of people the chance to do just that.”
That only inflamed the situation, and now MICE have axed the concerpt entirely, and have conceded the idea “wasn’t thought out from all angles.”
In a statement to Tone Deaf, Show Director at GM Events Simon Coburn claimed that admitted that the decision to advertise for artists to play without pay wasn’t approved by management.
“The intention [was] to provide a platform for local talent,” said Coburn, but the “unintended outcome” came a result of a “lack of understanding of the music industry”.
“Once we became aware of the concept, we instructed the team to cancel it straight away, with a view to reassessing how this is approached moving forward. Again, we never intended to be unfair to musicians with this opportunity and shouldn’t have gone down this path.”
You can read the advertisement in full, below.