One in five musicians worked unpaid last year

One in five musicians worked unpaid last year


norman lebrecht

November 05, 2015

A survey of the UK music industry, published today, shows that it adds £4.1 billion to the British economy.

That’s nice.

But a remark by UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple gives cause for considerable concern. Jo writes in her introduction that ‘35% (of musicans) are not paying into pension schemes, and 21% … had undertaken work for free during the past year with the aim of furthering their career.’

That’s not economic growth, it’s charity.

Read her introduction here.

jo dipple


  • Malcolm James says:

    If this is charity, so are unpaid internships, but they are widely defended.

    • Scott Fields says:

      Exploitative unpaid internships in other industries isn’t much of a justification for disparate musicians working for free.

      • Scott Fields says:

        “Desperate,” that is.

        • Malcolm james says:

          I wasn’t suggesting it was. I was just making the point that the sort of thing NL was criticising is pretty widespread, and often in a more formalised manner. Internships are too often simply a form of cheap labour which restrict access to a profession to those who are privileged.

  • Alvaro says:

    MORE EDUCATION!!! More conservatories!!!! More classical music because I am an old fart with a big ego who thinks this music is superior because of a dumbfounded newspaper article thst says classical music cures testicular cancer…..

    The world already has 2X the supply of orchestras and conservatories that it needs. Dragging people into that career is not only irresponsible, its simply disgusting – knowing these statistics.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      Two things: (1) being pan-aesthetic is the absence of an aesthetic sense – nothing to brag about, and (2) you have no knowledge of what it takes to be a classical musician or else you would know that no one gets dragged into the profession, it takes real effort.

      • Alvaro says:

        Believe me, I know enough to see how out of desperation to cover their own bills, music teachers will brainwash teenagers and lure them into pursuing a degree not because of talent, but because they must keep a quota in order to maintain ‘adjunct’ or ‘professor’ status. By the time 99% of these kids realize they have wasted their 20’s in a profession that 1) has oversupply, and 2) where there are reducing numbers of jobs, their only option is to become teachers themselves, and thus must lure the NEXT generation of young musicians to enter the profession in order to make it to the end of the month…..You could not create a more perfect devil’s circle if you engineered it. Its simply sad.

  • Roy Lisker says:

    I’m amazed that anyone could believe that the number of unpaid gigs is only a mere 20%

  • Dave says:

    Once you go down the road of working for free, you can never get off it.