Musicians Fair Pay Campaign

We have been challenged many times to give one calculation to back up our concept on WHY and HOW we arrive at a musicians’ worth of being recommended as £100 per engagement (usually based on 2 sets of 45 minutes but often can be much longer).

To us it seems obvious but in the “Roxanne/Steve Martin” style, let us give you 20 good how’s and why’s!

1. 2 hours of any standard plumber/electrician or other service industry time is £100 and any “call-out” bringing equipment would start at £100 (an emergency locksmith can cost £450+) Professional musicians are artisans and often have devoted 10,000 hours minimum commitment to their skill.

2. Musicians’ Union quotes £129 fee for up to three hours as their guidance, or £172 for 4 hours ex other costs.

3. The average UK wage published by Office for National Statistics – £31,461 a year. £585.50 a week – so if a musician worked 5 days a week that would be £117 per night

4. Back in 2006 Artists’ Newsletter put an artist with 6 years experience on £31k or 10 years experience on £36k – with inflation that would be £45k or £52k now which would equate to £1000 a week or £200 a day/event/gig.

5. Currently LESS THAN 3% earn £31k a year from live performance according to the UK Live Music Census 2017. In fact the largest bracket of annual income sits at 28% of professional musicians earning LESS THAN £5,199 in 2017 from their live performances.

6. Arts Council Fair Pay Guidelines ask for artists to be paid in line with their Union eg: £129 minimum per engagement. (Musicians’ Union).

7. Industry body “Making Music” quotes £177 as the lowest fee for a soloist.

8. Professional musicians have significant rehearsal time (plus location costs) which require factoring into the live performance fee.

9. Currently 66% of respondents to the UK Live Music Census 2017 identifying as professional musicians earn less than £15,600 direct from live music each year, 28% earn less than £5,200 direct from live performance. This must change or their professional status will have to.

10. Professional musicians need to earn enough to cover:

*capital purchases
*contacting venues – booking gigs/performances
*creating invoices/chasing debts
*all other admin
*even strings for guitars

11. Professional musicians need to factor in the cost of the gig promotion that venues now expect musicians to do for their own gigs. Social media, artwork, design etc.

12. Taking into account basic tax rate of 20% on earnings (most professional musicians are self employed) that leaves them with just £80 of the £100 in take home pay.

13. Valuing live music: The UK Live Music Census back in 2017 showed that nationally, professional musicians report they are earning between £80 and £100 a gig.

14. Incorporated society of Musicians quotes solo singer rate as £150 to £325 for an engagement (admittedly skewed upwards by a few rare higher earners).

15. Encore Musicians site which is an agency through which you hire professional musicians, charges £180 starting price for 2 x 45 minute sets.

16. Office of National Statistics says the average weekly cost of living is £592 – again divided by 5 gigs a week, that would be £118.

17. Nearly one in five (18%) of all respondents to UK Live Music Census 2017 moved to their current permanent place of residence specifically for more music opportunities. For professional musicians, this figure rises to nearly a third(31%). Therefore if we want to retain our professional musicians fair pay is key.

18. If we want quality music and professional musicians to live and work in our town we need to pay a professional level salary to ensure quality musicians can afford to stay and play in their home towns.

19. The UK Live Music Census 2017 shows that “live music has significant social and cultural value” – Live music enhances social bonding, is mood-enhancing, provides health and well-being benefits, is inspiring, and forms part of people’s identity. Therefore, we have a responsibility to place a value on it.

20. We pride ourselves on our Music as a tourist attractor and also as a Music City, therefore there is an onus on us to ensure we upkeep this reputation of quality and therefore we should set an example.