Study Finds That U.K. Musicians Must Supplement Income With Outside Jobs

Classic Arts News   Study Finds That U.K. Musicians Must Supplement Income With Outside Jobs
A survey conducted by the U.K. Musicians' Union has found that most musicians employed by the country's top orchestras must supplement their income with other jobs, The Stage reports.

The organization hired consultants from a firm called The Hub to survey musicians from 17 orchestras and companies, such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the English National Opera, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

The salaries of British musicians have not kept up with inflation, according to the study. The average musician, with an average of 21 years' experience, earns between Ô£22,000 and Ô£24,000. Nine of ten musicians surveyed have outside jobs, and over the last three years, more than 50 percent increased their non-musical workload.

In addition to a pay scale that has remained level or fallen, musicians registered complaints about working conditions, hours, and travel. One musician noted that the ballet company he plays for will not guarantee work for its musicians, and continually reduces the orchestra's hours, partly by using foreign orchestras when the company travels. Over the last decade, he said, he has gone from working 21 weeks per year to 12.

"Despite having always been told how talented I am," that musician said, "I can now hardly earn a living."

Musicians' work has also diminished due to the drop in recordings.

Andrew Missingham, director of The Hub, said of the study's results, "The people we surveyed were extremely dedicated but it seemed that this was being leant on with regard to the terms people had to work under. There was a real feeling that people were being undervalued. It's quite a dispiriting position to be in and I would be interested to see how long the orchestral profession can keep this up."

Russell Jones, director of the Association of British Orchestras, responded by saying that the situation is more complex than the study made it out to be. "[V]ery few players, some managers would say none of their players, earn the basic rate of pay. Some earn substantially more, and when actual hours worked is factored in the picture is much improved."

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