NPT’s ‘When the Gig Is Up’ Aging Matters documentary premieres May 31, 2024

Aging Matters When the Gig Is Up

When the Gig Is Up, NPT’s latest Aging Matters documentary, incorporates musicians’ stories into a program about the kinds of financial concerns faced by people whose nontraditional careers do not include retirement plans or other benefits. This includes freelancers, gig workers and other self-employed individuals.

The documentary premieres on NPT Friday, May 31, at 8 p.m. and will also be available at and on the PBS app. A panel discussion with musicians featured in the documentary follows the premiere at 8:30 p.m. When the Gig Is Up airs on NPT2 World Channel are Saturday, June 1, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 2, at 1 p.m.

“If you’re a freelancer, if you’re self-employed, it’s really important to talk to someone and get your ducks in a row,” says Erin Akery of The United Way of Greater Nashville’s Financial Empowerment Center in the documentary.

We’ve all heard stories of famous and successful people – hitmakers and professional athletes among them – who suddenly find themselves in dire financial straits.

“I was so caught up in working, I got to get the job done. I have to sing,” recalls Gerald Alston of The Manhattans. “And there was nobody taking care of the business portion.”

Aside from gig workers taking care of income tax payments and setting up 401(k) or other retirement saving plans, another big concern is often the matter of getting paid at all or having opportunities for residual payments when their work is reused or rebroadcast.

“In this day and age there’s a lot more transparency in terms of an artist knowing what they’re getting paid, how they’re getting paid, what their contracts actually look like,” says Damon Williams, chairman of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. The nonprofit foundation helps provide emergency assistance to artists who need funds for living expenses or medical bills.

Also appearing in the When the Gig Is Up: Matt Bridges, program director, Music for Seniors; John Engelland, freelance musician, singer and bandleader; bassist Dave Pomeroy, president of Nashville Musicians Association AFM local 257; lifetime professional musician Dan Schafer; and songwriter, pianist and vocalist Frankie Staton.

When the Gig Is Up was produced by senior producer Suzy Hence, whose previous Aging Matters documentary, Women Unseen, focuses on the challenges women face as they age, including economic insecurity.

Major funding for Aging Matters is provided by the West End Home Foundation, The Jeanette Travis Foundation, and The HCA Healthcare Foundation, on behalf of Tristar Health. Additional funding provided by Jackson National Life Insurance Company and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

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