A minimum wage for musicians?

A minimum wage for musicians?


norman lebrecht

November 11, 2021

The German trade union ver.di is proposing that musicians and (especially) singers, one of the worst hit groups during Covid, should be guaranteed a minimum fee for all performances, rather than having to negotiate each time from scratch.

Is that such a radical idea?

When rehearsals and travel time are taken into account, many musicians in Germany take home less than 30 Euros an hour.

Read here.


  • Tom Hase says:

    For most freelance musicians outside the musical centers, 30 Euros an hour is actually what they get paid if you only count performance time. If you include rehearsal and travel time the rates are much lower, often around minimum wage – or experienced musicians are asked to perform “for exposure” (read: for free) right away. If you think that I am exaggerating you can find the most ridiculous “offers” on the German facebook page “Kuenstlergagen”, which collects the most offensive “job offers”. Of course one can argue that it is everybody’s own fault to agree to such terms, but the reality of many musicians in Germany right now is different.

    • Nick says:

      True and very unfortunate. The answer is: CUT LAWYERS FEES to ZERO!!! All work pro bono! It will work just beautiful!!!

  • PeterB says:

    “Less than 30 euros an hour” is not in the article. It mentions between 40 and 50 euros all in, but that’s for playing in a church during Mass on Sunday…

    Yes, artists who are not embedded in an institution are struggling. Arts subsidies in Europe disproportionally go to institutions (but at least they exist). But orchestra musicians in Germany are very well paid.

    • Nick says:

      Let’s agree that orchestral people are simply paid!! and not only in Germany, but in the US as well. PAID WELL?!?
      There is no such a thing for orchestral people outside of concertmasters and first chairs. They are just paid.

  • Maria says:

    A great idea if only it could happen. Okay if you’re a star or an elite singer, and the society is rich, bit many are simply not. . But in the end, it creates less work, fewer concerts where sdoloists are used, and less performing experience for those professionals who are lucky to get employed. Instead, societies use students as is the case for years in the UK. They have turned the middle level of concert singing profession into a student occupation as they come cheaper – they still get paid to gain experience, but then no profession there when they leave college as more students are used. Germany is a different story, no doubt. I used to sing a lot in Germany as a British concert soloist, sent by my agent. We’d get paid more than in the UK, but then Germany saved themselves money by employing us instead of someone German, until the Eastern Europeans came in and were even cheaper still.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Let’s agree that musicians are generally underpaid, with the exception of some highly overrated baton flippers.

  • caranome says:

    What’s the difference between a classical musician and a 14-inch pizza? The pizza can feed a family of 4.

  • Piano Lover says:

    Why not apply for conducting?
    Looks easy since many have done both-instrumental AND conducting.

  • How is it they have unions for musicians and don’t have a union “scale” for pay already?

  • Nick says:

    Let’s negotiate a minimum AND A MAXIMUM wage for lawyers!! It will work much better in the long run.