Germans plan emergency aid for freelance musicians

Germans plan emergency aid for freelance musicians


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2020

There have been calls in Germany this morning for urgent aid for freelance musicians who have lost engagements over the coming weeks and cannot pay their bills.

We hear of singers and soloists who can’t get refunds on airb&b bookings and are facing other immediate expenses.

The German Cultural Council aims to set up an emergency fund for artists, possibly at the Artists’ Social Fund (KSK) in Wilhelmshaven.

The German Orchestra Association (DOV) is lobbying for urgent payments. ‘Salaried members of the concert and theatre orchestras as well as radio orchestras will be relatively well looked after in the coming weeks,’ says DOV Managing Director Gerald Mertens. ‘Freelancers are, however, facing a real existential need.’

It is not clear if payments will be made to non-German residents.


  • Musician says:

    Those aids are still not confirmed. The DOV and the Deutsche Musikrat is asking to the government for help, but they still have to wait for an answer from the politicians. We still don’t know yet if, when, and how it will happen. They suggested to organize the aids through the Künstlersozialkasse, where all freelancer artists are registered for social and health insurance.

    • TishaDoll says:

      The Germans are kind and practical in this regard. I think that is a wonderful idea. I truly enjoy living in Berlin. Saw Rachvilishvili’s amazing, Sofia Lorenesque Carmen last night, along with Fabiano’s strong monochrome AVA voice, color of grey concrete. Barenboim, chorus on fire for last performance until 19 April

  • Christopher Clift says:

    The same measures should be put in place for British freelance players.

    I know of those whose forthcoming engagements have been cancelled by the organisation with whom they should have been working, only to learn that their fees will not be paid.

    They will have turned down other work to allow themselves to take the now cancelled work, but at this late stage (two days’ notice!) it will be almost impossible to find alternative work.

    Where is our Government’s offer of aid when it is needed?

    • V.Lind says:

      God knows — that budget is spending money as if they were, you know, Labour so perhaps some of those pounds for the self-employed and the gig economy will cover artists with cancellations. They should.

    • Jennifer Stinton says:

      I agree Christopher.
      However, if free-lance musicians have been booked, those fees promised for the performance either verbal, text or email should be honoured by the organisers.
      Also, as you stated, the government should step in and assist financially, as will happen for other workers who may have to self-isolate.

      • Christopher Clift says:

        Hi Jennifer, Thanks for adding your support to the argument. (I DID recognise the name btw). I am minded to talk to the organisation in question, because when I freelanced with them (some years ago I admit) I ALWAYS received a written contract, detailing repertoire, rehearsal dates and times, venues, travel arrangements, dress code, as well as the fees and expenses I would be paid. Seems as though times have changed.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        If there is no performance, and hence no ticket revenue, there may not be any money which can be paid to the freelance musician.

      • Eric Stevens says:

        Hi Jennifer.
        Sadly, in the world of freelance music , not the classical world, if you were to demand your fee from the organisers you you are dead.
        The real world.
        Eric Stevens.

  • Angela Brower says:

    I’m an expat, but have German residency and I’ve applied several time for the KSK only to be rejected each time. Now, my work is being taken away from me and I only have my private savings to fall back in. Do you think I will receive help? And how?

    • Christopher Clift says:

      Try again with your approach to KsK – this situation is different from most other scenarios I would guess – lay it on thick that you have had to turn down other opportunities in favour of the work you are losing. Good Luck.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Why were you rejected? I’m also an expat but had no trouble being accepted by KSK. That was 17 years ago, however.

      • Christopher Clift says:

        Mr K,

        Perhaps you can enlighten Angela as to how you were successful, albeit a good number of years ago?

        • Mr. Knowitall says:

          In this case I’m not such a Knowitall. But from talking to other people, especially expats, about applying to the KSK, the usual issue is proving that you really are a professional freelance musician, journalist, or artist. The organization rejects people who have worked only part-time in these fields while working a conventional job or, worse yet, only aspire to work in these fields. In my case, I had decades of evidence of professional work, include a stack of CDs, magazine and newspaper articles about either projects or my work in general, and many reviews. In other words, a big pile of stuff to offer.

          All that said, for all I know Ms. Brower presented the same sort of materials. That’s why I asked about the reasons KSK gave her for the rejection.