SXSW, Austin's annual sticky-floored music industry sport coat and jeans cocaine marathon, wherein bands willingly exhaust themselves playing garbage sets for little or no money, deriving sustenance from tacos and the hope of "exposure," features a McDonald's showcase this year. And, no doy, they aren't paying.
This isn't the first year SXSW has played host to a corporation you regularly see advertising during the Super Bowl. Last year, for example, there was a Doritos thing that featured Lady Gaga. However, Doritos paid Lady Gaga $2.5 million dollars for that thing. What of the future Lady Gagas (music industry compliment) McDonald's is courting to perform at their 2015 showcase? The $90 billion corporation, powered by poverty-stricken workers, does not—hmm, let's see, ahhh, maybe if we...ah nope, sorry—have a budget, unfortunately.
Brian Harding of the band Ex Cops wrote about the company's pitch in a post on Facebook:
Their selling point was that this was "a great opportunity for additional exposure," and that "McDonald's will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc"
I don't, and doubt that they know what this means either.
Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald's can at least pay their talent a little. Right?
"There isn't a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)"
Unfortunate! Perhaps the budget was blown exchanging McNuggets for hugs or offering "free food to all audience members" of the showcase, a fact included in the pitch. Harding goes on to note that McDonald's promises the bands will "be featured on screens throughout the event, as well as POSSIBLY mentioned on McDonald's social media accounts like Facebook (57MM likes!)" Neat, and also exciting.
Of course, if you are a band, you are free to turn down such a showcase. Similarly, and less complicatedly, if you are McDonald's, you are free to fucking pay people.
UPDATE 2:58 P.M.: We received an email in response to our post from McDonald's Global Media Relations director Becca Hary:
We follow the same standard protocol as other Brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival. We look forward to serving McDonald's food, drinks and fun in Austin. #slownewsday
Well, in that case.
[image via Shutterstock, h/t Stereogum]