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77% of producers and recording engineers work for free, study finds

The findings emerged as part of The Music Producers Guild's Working For Free report

77% of producers and recording studio engineers have done free work for self-funding artists in the last three years, according to a new report released by The Music Producers Guild.

The organisation's Working For Free study also found that 88% of respondents had been asked to work for free at some point during their career, while 34% said they were doing unpaid work for independent labels. Nearly 17% did unpaid work for major labels.

The report was released late last week as part of a 'Should You Ever Work For Free' panel at Pivotal Music Conference, with respondents saying that they had varying reasons for taking on free work. 50% said they were doing a genuine favour for a friend, while 20% said that they felt 'under pressure' to do a 'favour' for an existing client. A further 42% had done ‘on spec’ work, which they'd agreed to on the understanding that they would be paid if the client ‘liked’ the work.

"I knew unpaid work was a problem in our industry, but I didn’t realise how endemic it was," said MPG Executive Director Olga FitzRoy. "Of course, people will do favours for friends, but it’s completely unacceptable for record labels and commercial studios to exploit professionals in this way. We don’t employ someone to put in a new bathroom and then decide to pay them if we feel like it."

Read DJ Mag's feature asking if dance music is too middle class here.