Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Alana Blackburn, Lecturer in Music, University of New England

The “gig economy” has been the life for musicians for many years. Despite financial instability and the prospect of unemployment, why do musicians choose this type of work? And what can we learn from their motivations?

A study published by the Australia Council for the Arts estimated that 15,400 musicians (excluding composers) were working in Australia in 2016. In that year, 80% of musicians were freelance or self-employed. Of the rest, 12% had a working salary or wage and 8% didn’t work in music.

The survey also shows that musicians undertake a wide range of arts-related and non-arts activities. This mix of activities helps with developing skills to adapt to changing environments and maintain their financial position.

Read more: Why gig workers may be worse off after the Fair Work Ombudsman's action against Foodora

Freelance musicians will be the first to admit it’s a difficult choice of career. Nevertheless, despite this career path being a necessity for most, there are some reasons why musicians and artists (or similar employees) choose to head down it.

Musicians can survive under these circumstances by developing important overarching and transferable skills. A variety of reasons and skills ensures they remain employable, rather than employed.

Living the gig life

For musicians it is commonly described as a “portfolio career”, a career of multiple jobs – usually paid and unpaid, part-time or freelance work. Many jobs are based on short contracts or negotiated relationships where no long-term commitment is required.

This type of employment presents financial challenges. Benefits such as superannuation and paid leave are often missing.

Read more: How gig economy workers will be left short of super

However, musicians (and other artists) consider what they do meaningful work. Personal values are at the heart of what they do, rather than organisational rewards such as a salary or promotion.

Musicians personally identify that their work has a purpose. Therefore, subjective measures of success and the freedom to make independent choices are significant elements of their portfolio career. The benefits include being able to take charge of their own career management and feeling empowered to grow, develop, achieve and contribute in a variety of creative and professional ways.

Their intrinsic success lies not in what others expect of them, but in achieving personal freedom and being true to their beliefs. It’s about meeting personal and professional needs.

A study by Ruth Bridgstock found that portfolio career musicians are motivated by a self-directed working environment driven by personal values. Their career is measured by psychological success and often based on a passion for what they do.

The gig economy is nothing new for musicians – here's what their 'portfolio careers' can teach us A willingness to learn many skills and be adaptable enables musicians to do something they believe in. Perry Duffin/AAP

Much like other fields including small-business owners, independent contractors and consultants, gig work is seen as taking charge through self-determination. They enjoy the freedom and responsibility of shaping their career, which forms part of their self-identity.

A survey of musicians’ education, training and professional practice also revealed that passion was the driving force in their careers. However, when asked if they would prefer to work entirely within the music industry, many of the respondents answered no. This suggests a personal desire to develop skills and interests in other areas.

The survey responses also indicate that musicians are life-long learners. They want to continually learn new skills in and outside their field.

Read more: Why music is not lost

Learning survival skills

Adaptability and self-awareness are two main abilities that help make musicians ideal gig workers. In a dynamic working environment, musicians need to be open to new possibilities and to apply creative decision-making.

A portfolio career requires continuous learning, enterprise skills and social networking. Transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, planning and organisation, are also necessary. Musicians demonstrate these skills through long-term and short-term career goals, the capacity to work from one project to the next, collaborating with other artists and balancing high- and low-risk ventures.

Musicians want to learn and have the ability to intentionally act and adapt to change. They demonstrate self-knowledge, a dependency on personal and professional networks, personal enterprise and technological skills. To survive and support their art by managing multiple jobs, musicians develop a strong capacity to self-manage.

Despite the challenges of working as a portfolio careerist or working in the gig economy, it turns out musicians are generally satisfied with their life. The skills and attributes musicians possess reflect a flexible, self-managed career drawing on numerous experiences and passions.

For those who can’t have, or don’t want, a 9-to-5 career, the lessons of musicians can help them design a career that suits personal and professional needs, as well as contributing to the economy in a variety of ways.

Authors: Alana Blackburn, Lecturer in Music, University of New England

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-gig-economy-is-nothing-new-for-musicians-heres-what-their-portfolio-careers-can-teach-us-98247

Writers Wanted

Why Netflix Increased Prices for Australian Customers


Expanding Victoria's police powers without robust, independent oversight is a dangerous idea


New Zealand companies lag behind others in their reporting on climate change, and that's a risk to their reputation


The Conversation


Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

5 Essential Tools for Working Remotely in 2020

The average, modern office worker spends 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a company building. Since the start of COVID, however, many of these companies have allowed workers to work from home due...

News Company - avatar News Company

What happens to all those pallets?

Pallets — they're not something everyday people often give much thought to. But they're an integral part of any business which receives or distributes large quantities of goods. But once the goo...

News Company - avatar News Company

Ten tips for landing a freelance transcription job

Transcription jobs are known to be popular in the field of freelancing. They offer fantastic job opportunities to a lot of people, but there are some scammers who wait to cheat the freelancers. ...

News Company - avatar News Company

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion