Does passion pay off? The socio-economic position of musicians and composers

1. Profile


Approximately half the music respondents were younger than 45 years of age. This means they occupy a midway position among the artists surveyed.


The music sector continues to be an extremely masculine sector (as does the film sector). 78% of the musicians and composers in the study are men. In the youngest age group this percentage is 64%. Just 2.5% of the 65+ age group are women. This figure is only 10% among the 55-64-year-olds.


82% of the musicians and composers hold a higher education qualification. This percentage is higher than that of the other groups of artists. Among the higher educated artists there is clearly a large proportion of master’s degrees compared with bachelors, which is not the case for the other disciplines. Half the musicians and composers hold an artistic qualification.


The musicians and composers in the study represent the group that considers itself most recognised. Just 14% of the respondents considered themselves as up-and-coming and just over 60% as a recognised artist.


In the study the different music genres in which the artists could be active were divided into five main genres. Four of the five were practised by over 40% of the respondents: classical, mainstream, pop and rock, jazz and roots and popular variety. The high percentages reveal that the majority of musicians practice multiple genres. Half of the respondents do not practise classical music, 22% of respondents practise exclusively classical music.

2. Activities, remuneration and time allocation


The most common activity among musicians and composers is performing at shows or concerts. 90% of the respondents indicated that they had played at one or more shows or concerts in 2014. As a rule performances are remunerated. 70% of respondents cited studio recordings and 60% composing and arranging. In contrast the activity that is remunerated least often involved creation: composing music and writing lyrics. This is remunerated in just 50% of cases.

The musicians were asked about the number of performances they performed in during the reference year 2014. Approximately half the respondents reported over 20 performances.


As in the other groups of artists teaching and giving workshops represents an important activity linked to artistic work. 60% of the musicians and composers gave lessons in 2014, which are invariably remunerated. Almost half of the musicians and composers that taught did so in part-time art education, half also in the form of private lessons or workshops. Producing and studio engineering were performed by just over 30% of the respondents and singing or band coaching by 20%. More often than not these activities were remunerated.


The group of musicians is the group least active in other artistic disciplines. Nevertheless a third of the musicians also stated they were active in other artistic fields. One fifth was also remunerated for this work.


Approximately one third of the musicians also have a non-artistic job. These jobs mostly involve the education and training sector, and art, amusement and recreation.


On average 55% of the musicians and composers’ working hours are spent on core artistic activities. 85% of their time is devoted to art-related activities.

3. Income profile


The most common status under which musicians practise their artistic activity is as an employee – 36% worked as a musician in paid employment in 2014, 30% via a Social Agency for Artists (SBK) or employment agency. 28% worked under the secondary occupation self-employed status. 15% of the music respondents worked under the main occupation self-employed status. Along with the performing artists they are least likely to use this status.


The musicians and composers that worked as self-employed persons (for all their activities) in 2014 received an average net annual income of €34,000, with a median of €24,000. Of those who worked under the secondary occupation self-employed status half received €5,000 or less from work billed and €30,000 or less from paid employment. A quarter earned €44,000 or more from the share of income from paid employment. These figures are high in comparison with the other disciplines. The musicians that worked as employees in 2014 earned a median net income of €20,000. This figure is in line with that of the writers and illustrators. If we examine the net annual income of the employees according to subdiscipline, we see clear differences between those who play exclusively classical music and those who do not play classical music or do so, but not exclusively. The classical musicians (employees) have a median income of €30,000, while their other musical colleagues earned approximately €22,000. Among the self-employed the classical/non-classical differentiation was not so pronounced with regard to the level of income.


The average income of musicians and composers (paid employees only) steadily rises with age. The gender gap is already visible at the beginning of the career and persists until around the age of 55 at €5,000 on an annual basis. Among the oldest age group of 55-64-year-olds there is no difference between the income of women and men.


While the musicians and composers devote 55% of their time to their core activities in music (type 1), on average they earn 40% of their income in this way. On average 67% of their income originates from art-related activities (types 1, 2 and 3). This percentage is only higher among film-makers. On average 20% of income originates from a job outside the artistic field. 12% of the musicians and composers earned all their income from the artistic core activity of creating and performing music (type 1). Half of the respondents earned all their income from activities within the arts (types 1, 2 and 3).


16% of the musicians can fall back on unemployment benefits under the artist status, 9% on a different unemployment benefit.


In 2014, half of the group of musicians and composers earned €500 or less on an annual basis from copyrights and related rights. However, the group’s average is €5,000, which indicates that a small group earned substantial amounts from copyrights and related rights.


With an average of €29,000, the professional expenses incurred by musicians are highest of all the groups surveyed. Remuneration for third parties amount to an average of €9,000, costs of materials and equipment (requested as one total), and recording costs each amount to around €3,500.

4. Job satisfaction

Around 90% of the musicians and composers are satisfied with the content-related and artistic aspects of the job. 80% are satisfied with the possibilities for personal-development and developing their activities as an artist.

One third of the musicians and composers are dissatisfied with the remuneration they receive for their performances, one third are satisfied and one third hover in between. The artists are rather more divided when it comes to satisfaction with the level of their total income. 46% of the musicians are dissatisfied in this respect. 60% are dissatisfied with job security and 37% are dissatisfied with their future prospects as an artist.

There is great satisfaction with the public’s appreciation. 88% are satisfied. Almost half the musicians and composers also stated they are satisfied with the treatment of critics and the media.

56% of the musicians and composers stated that their job is easy to combine with a family. 14% find it difficult to combine with their family. A large majority indicates they never consider giving up their career as a musician. Around 35% sometimes think about doing so.

5. Support

With 63% of musicians and composers satisfied, this group of artists is notably the most satisfied with the possibilities for further education at the artistic level. When it comes to the possibilities for further business-related education or for obtaining business-related advice the artists are more divided. As with the other artists: the fact that most musicians position themselves in the intermediate categories may indicate a lack of knowledge about the possibilities for further education.

78% of the musicians and composers are affiliated to a management company, 30% to a trade union.

The musicians and composers are most likely to turn to colleagues as an initial source of information. The accountant represents a source of advice for three-quarters of the music respondents. Almost half of the musicians consult an employer for advice and 30% the trade union and management company.

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