April 15, 2024
Full-time Aussies earning 'ridiculous' $6k per year forced to take on second job

Most Aussie musicians are next to nothing and are taking on multiple part-time jobs to make a living and keep their dream career alive, according to new research.

Musicians Australia spoke to more than 500 musicians across the country and nearly half (49 per cent) of them reported pulling in less than . Only one in five respondents were able to fully rely on their passion to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

The majority have resorted to taking up a to make ends meet. Rosie Jackson told Yahoo Finance she had four non-music-related jobs that she juggled to get by, in addition to her wedding singing and personal music career.

Rosie Jackson knew singing wasn’t going to pay all her bills but she said the music industry can be brutal. (Source: Louis Saggus)

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“It’s f**ked,” she said when discussing how much musicians had to do on the side to continue their music career.

Playing at weddings is the big money-maker for Jackson and she estimates she has around 15 ceremonies booked for this year, which will net her around $7,500. While Jackson explained the industry wasn’t consistent and could be very stressful, she said it was one of the only viable options “to make money doing music and not going insane”.

When she performs at different venues or events, the pay can vary wildly and can depend on whether she’s doing covers or original songs. Sometimes, she won’t even get paid for the performance, and will instead have other costs like flights and accommodation covered.

She knew early on that singing and playing music weren’t going to pay all the bills, but it was disheartening to keep grafting week in, week out to keep her music career going.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who have quit music, because it was too hard,” she told Yahoo Finance. “I have known a lot of them who have been like, ‘Now I have to just do something else because this is ridiculous’.”

The results from Musicians Australia’s research laid bare this exact issue.

More than half of the artists who were surveyed said pay was the biggest barrier to doing music full-time and 42 per cent said they had played at unpaid gigs. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would receive less than $250 per gig, despite many of them spending up to 20 hours a week on rehearsing, practising and preparing for the event.


Kimberley Wheeler, federal president of Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) Musicians, said artists weren’t treated fairly.

“It is not properly acknowledged that what we do is an occupation,” she said in a statement. “Musicians are typically treated as having a lesser right to earn income than other earners in the music industry. We operate as businesses. We need to earn a living wage, not pocket money.

“There’s more we can do within the industry to set up win-win scenarios where the venue operator and the musicians can benefit. It’s a matter of public interest that we have a viable live music industry in Australia.”

Tasmania is the only state or territory that hasn’t endorsed Musicians Australia’s campaign to have a minimum fee of $250 per musician per public-funded gig.

Jackson told Yahoo Finance venues needed to get better at paying artists to perform.

“I think there are a lot of entities that have built a reputation of being pretty shit to play at because they don’t give a f**k about the musicians that are coming in and like bringing the people in and making them drink,” she said.

“It’s almost the attitude of like, the venue is doing them a favour by letting them play … and like, ‘You should be grateful’.”

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