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Australians love live music. It’s everywhere and part of everyone’s life. It’s also a multi-billion dollar industry, yet the majority of musicians do not make a living from music.

  • Average musician incomes are below the minimum wage
  • Most need to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
  • After preparation time and other expenses, musicians are left with a fraction of their hourly performance rate. 
  • Performance contracts are regularly broken. Gigs are often not paid at all, or cancelled with little notice.

Is there any doubt that musicians need a stronger voice? We’ve come together under the Media, Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) to form a new union.

An Industry In Crisis

MUSICIANS ARE UNDERPAID

For every 1 hour of performance time, musicians spend 3 hours rehearsing, marketing and promoting their music.After preparation time and related expenses, musicians receive a fraction of their hourly rate when they perform.

WOMEN IN MUSIC ARE DISADVANTAGED

Despite making up almost 50% of qualified musicians, women only hold 28% of senior & strategic roles in key industry organisations.

TOO MANY GIGS ARE UNPAID

1 in 4 gigs are unpaid, and gigs are increasingly difficult to find. To make matters worse, average musician incomes are below minimum wage.Most need to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.

CONTRACTS ARE REGULARLY BROKEN

Gigs are often not paid at all, or cancelled with little notice, with performance contracts regularly broken without consequences.35% of musicians are paid less than the agreed rate at least 10% of the time.

A Plan For Change

Fixing musicians’ income means fixing the way contracts work and making sure performance agreements are reliable and can be enforced; it means getting the settings right so that we can grow opportunities for musicians and encourage the best operators to keep investing; and this means making sure that venues can operate where the audiences and musicians live; and to do this we’ll need better planning and licensing regulation, from all levels of government.

Getting any of this done requires stability and a set of reliable standards defining the rules musicians will stand by and require of business and the community. Musicians need to know that they can count on fair fees when they play and that they won’t end up being undercut, having gigs cancelled at short notice or money not paid at all.

We need an industry that respects the time it takes to prepare, set up and travel to gigs. We need the best venues and promoters to be recognised for how they treat musicians and we need rogue operators taken out of the industry.

Fair standards for live performance will encourage more musicians to keep up with their craft. It will promote diversity and music that truly reflects the richness of modern Australia. Fair standards for live performance will bring people together, marginalise anti-social behaviour and boost our entertainment and night time economies.

We can all agree on this, so how do we get there? Through our “Love Live Music” campaign we will develop and implement an industry code of conduct.

How Will The Code Of Conduct Work?

An industry code of conduct will set fair fees for performances and ensure that musicians will not undercut one another. It will assist musicians demand a minimum fee for performances. Fair fees will allow venues to prosper and provide a reliable base for musicians, with exceptions for genuine “open mic nights”, and charity fund raising.

Under the code, performance fees will account for load in and load out, set up, and sound checks and fair payments will extend to local support acts and festival performances.

It will establish a standard, enforceable, performance fee agreement, in plain English that doesn’t require legal expertise to understand.

Importantly disputes will be dealt with in a no-cost jurisdiction, where lawyers are not required, such as an industrial or consumer tribunal.

And of course, our code will contain principles and guidelines for preventing and dealing with harassment, discrimination, bullying and anti-social behaviour.

© 2021 All rights reserved. Musicians Australia is an initiative of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).