The Working Musician Report 2012Posted on January 4th, 2013 by Lee Jarvis in Music Industry News
The Musicians Union recently published a report detailing the low income of musicians throughout 2012. The union commissioned DHA Communications, who surveyed nearly 2000 working musicians and industry experts from around the UK, and pulled other relevant data to compile the report. Their findings may not be that alarming for anyone who is looking for work in the music industry, or has struggled to get a foot in the door…
56% of musicians surveyed earn less than £20k.
60% of musicians report working for free in the past 12 months.
81% of those surveyed received income from a Performing Artist role.
60% of those surveyed received income from a Teaching role.
61% of musicians attended a music college / university or conservatoire.
40% of musicians hold a degree in music.
21% of those surveyed had been in a professional musician for over 30 years.
19% of those surveyed had been in a professional musician for less than 5 years.
34% of musicians held another job outside of music.
35% of musicians pay into a pension scheme.
49% are not a member of any collecting societies.
Being a freelancer in the music industry and adding other music-related tasks to your work week seems to be a growing trend in recent years. The advent of DIY tools for musicians has helped individuals and bands with the ability to retain more control over their art, but in order to effectively use the tools (and save money on a major-label middleman), you have to expand your knowledge base and pick up new skills. One musician comments “We’ve had to constantly adapt to find ways of making it work…I’d always expect to work hard, but one change is probably the onus on the artist to organise or take over roles in production, artwork, videos….”
The full report (download from here) concludes that the skill and experience of the average musician is very high, and that they are qualified and capable of the roles that they undertake. However, the pay scale and opportunities for employment in most roles is very low. Another musician is quoted saying “I think it’s very difficult and it’s getting more difficult. I mean lots of people are doing sidelines. I do too. I’ll be lucky if I work 15 days a month now and you just can’t really survive like that.”
Whilst the musicians of the 21st Century are finding ways to multitask and make ends meet, the abusive performance income wages still remain. A common example of a live event will see bar staff, security, admin staff and many others being paid, with musicians being expected to provide atmosphere and entertainment yet also sell tickets or play for free. The low value placed on the roles of musicians within society is something that needs to be addressed by employers and government bodies alike, in order to sustain an industry that in many ways provides so much culture, heritage, and value to the public.
The Musicians Union has launched a campaign for fair pay for musicians at worknotplay.co.uk