News June 22, 2020

Study shows why Aussie musicians are hardest hit by coronavirus

Study shows why Aussie musicians are hardest hit by coronavirus

A new three-year study called Making Music Work by the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre shows why Australian musicians are among those hardest hit by the .

The 600 musicians surveyed indicate that 97% of them are doing it “for the love” and 70% of them have been doing it for over 10 years, with one in three hanging on for 20 years.

But 49% have to take on at least two jobs to keep their music careers going, and less than one-fifth of these jobs are usually not long term or financially consistent.

These casual work arrangements meant many musicians fell through the cracks with JobKeeper.

Most of their money comes from gigs, which of course has dried up in the last three months.

“The Making Music Work report shows that the vast majority of Australian musicians undertake a portfolio career which encompasses a variety of concurrent roles,” according to Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre director Professor Brydie-Leigh Bartleet.

“This complex balancing act shows us why and how musicians are especially exposed to the current COVID-19 crisis.

“The most common reasons for leaving the were financial stress, lack of income and caring responsibilities – all of which have since been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

The study also revealed that 23% of musicians live with a disability and 55% reported they have a mental illness.

The study identified 560 jobs that musicians take on. The most common were instrumental (25%) and private music teacher (10%). Others were composers and technicians.

Jobs outside the music world included sales assistants, journalists and librarians.

Despite the high rate of musicians who love being in the profession, 12% were thinking of leaving before the pandemic.

The three main reasons were financial stress, lack of income and caring responsibilities – which are set to trigger as the impact of coronavirus seems to stretch out further.

Making Music Work notes that in spite of the challenges they continually face, Australian musicians continue to be creative, resilient and adaptable to changing circumstances.

“Our study has shown how creatively and financially entrepreneurial Australian musicians can be when negotiating multiple music and non-music roles,” Bartleet said.

“These musicians have developed highly diverse and agile skill-sets.”

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