According to the first-ever musician census, the average annual income for a musician from their music is £20,700.
The census, which is product of the Musicians‘ Union in association with the non-profit Help Musicians, surveyed nearly 6,000 musicians in the UK. It’s set to be repeated every three to five years.
The results indicate that musicians who exclusively dedicate themselves to music typically hold an average of three to four jobs to sustain themselves financially. Furthermore, musicians who rely solely on their craft for income earn an annual average of £30,000, which falls £4,000 short of the UK median income. The survey also reveals concerning disparities in pay among different demographic groups, with white musicians earning approximately £1,000 more per year than their non-white counterparts and disabled musicians averaging around £4,000 less in annual earnings compared to non-disabled musicians. Additionally, 70% of respondents held a degree and 50% held a music degree.
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One female respondent who lived in London and was 30 years old stated, “Music does not provide a stable income and so progression is often slowed by needing to spend time on other work to make a living.”
On the other side of spectrum, 3% of respondents earned more than £70,000 a year. However, of that small group, 80% were men.
The report shared, “We can see that men and women are paid equally up to the point of earning an annual income of £34,000 from music. After £34,000, men report higher earnings from music than both women and musicians identifying their gender in another way.”
The report comes at a time when the cost of living in general is record high. It’s been estimated that Brexit has caused a general cost-of-living increase and now more foreign-born musicians must pay for visas to remain in the UK.
“The cost-of-living crisis is something huge, that has impacted my welfare and career progress,” said a female respondent living in London. “My biggest issue at the moment is that I simply don’t have time to practice fully anymore, I don’t have the means to organize gigs with my band as they all have better-paying opportunities… It all seems like a vicious cycle that pushes musicians out.”
The Musicians’ Union, which consists of over 33,000 musicians, has a mission to advocate for equal opportunities and inclusivity in the realm of music, with a goal of fostering greater diversity and representation within the industry. Likewise, Help Musicians is a non-profit organization that helps musicians in by giving them support in their work and retirement.
Image Credits: © Chris @chris_ainsworth22 | Unsplash