Prince Bernhard slammed for asking musicians to play for free at Formula 1 race
Prince Bernhard has drawn the ire of the music industry by asking a number of artists to play for free at the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort next weekend, offering them tickets to the event. The Dutch prince is part-owner of the circuit. Various major music organizations called it a wrong signals not to pay artists for their work.
"Far too often singers and bands are told: but you enjoy doing it?" said Arrien Mollema, chairman of BAM! Popauters. "It's a bizarre thought that you wouldn't get paid for work you do. Prince Bernhard doesn't rent out the many houses he owns for a free ticket to a concert."
"Performing for free now will not help in the conversation we are trying to have about fair reimbursement for artists," said Berend Schans of the Nederlandse Popcoalitie. "The people who build the stands at the Grand Prix or take care of the asphalt, don't do that for free tickets either."
Artists often get the short straw, according to Frank Kimenai of pop umbrella organization POPnl. "It is seen as a hobby. This question from the prince shows great contempt for a sector that works very hard and has already been hit hard over the past year and a half," he said. "The relationship between the financial strength and size of the Grand Prix, the large number of houses that the prince owns, and the flexibility that is required of artists is completely lost."
Singer Davina Michelle agreed to perform the national anthem at the Formula 1 in Zandvoort for free. Her manager stressed that she considers it an honor to perform at this event and "that's why she does it without payment."
A number of musicians called on Michelle to withdraw and send a message in that way. Kimenai called it "a fundamentally wrong signal" when an artist performs for free, but softened the statement a bit by adding: "If you're a racing fan, I understand that performing at this place can be worth more to you than if you're not."
Humberto Tan said on his talk show on RTL 4 on Thursday that he had an "extensive" conversation with Prince Bernhard and the prince regrets asking artists to perform for free. The first email in which he asked band Chef'Special to do so should never have been sent, the prince said according to Humberto Tan. He also said that he would like to apologize to the band.
Chef'Special does not necessarily need an apology, singer Joshua Nolet said on the talk show. According to him, the prince is only a "vehicle" for artists' anger at politicians because the event sector has been silent for so long.
The Dutch Grand Prix said on Friday that it will not respond to the commotion caused by Prince Bernhard's request. Earlier the organization said that it understood that the request to perform for free was misunderstood. "We thought artists who were racing fans were approached."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.