Musician can be the most beautiful profession in the world. But financial uncertainty affects many artists. No less than 61 percent of professional musicians cannot live on music.
A recent study by the Music Industry Research Association (MIRA) shows that the American professional musician earned an average of only $ 21,300 in 2017. That was less than in the 6 years before. Most of the money came from live performances. With giving music lessons and other musical activities, this income was boosted a little. To make ends meet, a part-time job outside of music was often required.
The survey also asked what musicians least liked about their profession. Financial uncertainty and marketing appear to be the biggest frustrations; constantly fighting to get the small wages paid out.
How are things in the Netherlands? It is common here that musicians only send an invoice after their performance. Only large, well-known artists can demand payment in advance. The rest runs the risk of getting paid very late or, in extreme cases, not even being paid. This gives artists a lot of uncertainty.
Some customers also have a helping hand in burdening the musician, for example, with drinks afterwards, against the agreements made. Furthermore, sometimes no or less is paid because a party would have been a loss. And that while the risk is always for the operator unless agreed otherwise.
Our research among almost 100 artists shows that the situation in the Netherlands corresponds to the American figures. More than half have experienced problems with the payment of performances.
Some tips and tricks to prevent this: As an artist, always try to be as professional as possible. For example, in the communication, pretend that there is a manager or booker behind you, this reduces the chance that Catering owners do not comply with their agreements.
A second tip is to exchange information with other artists. Room owners who do not keep their promises tend to do so more often. Artists like to talk on Facebook about fun shows and busy performances. It is better to also share disappointments in private Facebook groups, where you work as colleagues, so that your colleagues can avoid these disappointments in their own performance.
There are booking platforms like ShowBird.com that want to ensure that musicians can concentrate on what they prefer to do: have a great performance. For example, artists always have their money within 48 hours of the performance. Without discussion!
And it may seem like an open door: make clear agreements with the locations where the games are played and ensure that these agreements are always in your e-mail. Try to prevent all kinds of costs from being deducted from the wage.