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McDonald’s blasted for asking indie band to play SXSW for free

McDonald's asked indie band to play SXSW without compensation.

McDonald's asked indie band to play SXSW without compensation.  (Reuters)

Music fans are up in arms after indie duo Ex Cops told fans that last week McDonald’s had asked them to perform at South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and wanted to compensate them only with food.

Amalie Braun and Brian Harding of the Brooklyn-based duo may not be household names but they have been signed to a small label and are successful enough to make a living from performing, reports Business Insider.

After receiving the offer from the burger chain, an offended Harding took to Facebook to express just why he was so upset. As a selling point to take the gig, Harding explained that McDonald’s said the performance be “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that the chain “will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc.”

Harding stated that he doubted what this obscure jargon actually meant—and suggested the chain probably has little idea either.

“Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald’s can at least pay their talent a little. Right?...It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials," Harding wrote.

Harding's original post has received over 10,000 likes and more than 700 comments since being posted. Most fans echo the musician's sentiments and call out the burger chain for being "ridiculous" and "cheap."

McDonald’s, which is currently worth about $97 billion, responded to Harding, in defense of its initial offer.

“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"

But Bruun told Rolling Stone the fact that this they didn’t offer payment for the performance is simply  “not true.”

“They're not following any guidelines because everyone else is offering money,” Bruun told the music magazine. “They'll have to take that up with South by Southwest if they think they're following the guidelines ... Other, much smaller corporations are offering us money." 

The Ex Cops have several scheduled performances in Austin, including one sponsored by smaller companies like Pandora—which is paying the band for their time.

McDonald’s may be trying to reach more youngsters by enhancing their presence at the popular music, technology and culture festival, but so far seems to be alienating many people in the social media sphere after news of their gratis offer to the Ex Cops was made public.

In December, McDonald's Chief Digital Officer released a statement announcing the chain's upcoming sponsorship at SXSW. He stated the goal was to "improve the SXSW experience for everyone" with new features in their McDonald's lounge.