It seems like everyone in the cultural sector is talking about “fair pay” – but what does that actually mean? What should I charge for playing, rehearsing, or teaching? Look no further: here are the minimum fee recommendations from the IG Freie Musikschaffende (IGFM), Musicians’ Guild (Musikergilde), the Austrian Union Association (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund/younion), and the Austrian Composers Association.
Genre-specific commentary: Pop/Rock/Electronic, Jazz/Global and Contemporary/Classical
Looking at the fee recommendations below, you might have the impression that €370 for a single 2-hour performance is a pretty good wage. But look again: the work necessary to be able to play that concert far outstrips the two hours you spend on stage. Examined in detail, it quickly becomes clear that a musician’s hourly wage has to cover a lot more than just the time spent performing.
Self-employed musicians do not have the benefit of a fixed employer – nor, in most cases, can they count on steady income from regular performances. That means additional work to secure engagements – for instance networking, which is time-consuming (and not always successful). They also have to attend to necessities like insurance, bookkeeping, and various other administrative activities that also take up substantial time. Fees also have to cover costs like the purchase of (often very expensive) instruments and technical equipment, practice and rehearsal studios, and the acquisition or preparation of sheet music.
And that’s all before we get to the work of music-making itself, the nature of which can vary widely from one engagement to the next. Regardless of musical style, the work always starts long before the concert itself. Below, we offer a few examples and comments on the meaning of the fee recommendations.
Fees for pop bands are generally negotiated for the performance alone; practicing and rehearsal are considered part of the package. At a fee of €370, if we consider 1.5 hours for the concert plus 1 hour for soundcheck, 1 hour for load-in and setup, another half hour to pack up after the concert and (at least) two hours for rehearsal beforehand, we arrive at an hourly wage of €62 – and that’s before deducting taxes and social insurance, and without even considering time for administration, marketing, etc. In short, the real hourly wage is considerably less.
Musicians often travel for 2-3 days for a single concert – those are days that they can’t play other concerts, unless more than one performance is taking place at the same venue. The fee should take these days into consideration as well. Travel and accommodation costs should, of course, be assumed by the promoter. If the band works with booking agents or management, they generally receive a commission of about 20% of the agreed-upon fee. In the case of pop bands that play original material, the time for songwriting should also be taken into consideration.
Most jazz and “global” musicians have to play in numerous projects in order to make a living. Playing more than one concert at a single venue means developing a new program every time in order to get booked again; this often means a constant cycle of practicing and/or developing different concert programs parallel to one another. A high level of virtuosity and extensive knowledge of instrumental techniques is a must for most musicians working in these genres. Work is generally highly project-oriented in order to maintain visibility – this means a high musical output, but often a low number of performances per program or piece.
The preparation and rehearsal of pieces in the classical genre (whether historical or contemporary) that a musician doesn’t already have in their repertoire is extremely time-consuming. It’s not unusual for a piece to require several rehearsals, with the accompanying organization and logistical effort. Contemporary pieces may also require the player to learn and integrate whole new instrumental techniques – this requires considerable practice time, which should be reflected in the payment. A rehearsal usually lasts 3 hours (including break time) and should be paid as well.
A further aspect to consider is that many new works, for various reasons, are performed only once or, at best, a few times. When we consider that musicians are dependent on a steady flow of engagements, and that rehearsals and performances cannot overlap, it becomes clear that – even if these minimum fee recommendations are followed – it is by no means easy for a musician to make a living. The fact that actual fees often fall far short of the recommendations makes it painfully clear why even musicians with a full concert calendar often live in extremely precarious circumstances.According to the rates listed here, one 2-hour performance and three 3-hour rehearsals would cost €470.80, which breaks down to an hourly rate of 42.80. After deducting about 50% for taxes and social insurance, the net hourly wage is about €21. However, when you factor in the time needed for practicing and administrative work, and the costs of instruments, repairs, and materials…the real hourly rate drops even further.
Minimum fee recommendations for musicians
Recommendations for freelance orchestra projects and ensembles
The Association of Freelance Musicians (IGFM) recommends the following minimum fees.
For musical performance in an orchestra
Based on their calculations, the IGFM recommends the use of Austrian collective agreements for orchestras as a model; these recommendations are structured in units or “shifts”; one shift generally lasts three hours, including a break.
- Minimum fee per rehearsal shift: €103.58
- Per concert shift: €207.15
For musical performance in small ensembles (app. 6 persons or less)
The recommendations for musical work in small ensembles up to about six persons are intended to apply regardless of genre, and have been reviewed by musicians from various branches:
- Minimum per rehearsal shift: €172.63
- Per concert shift: €345.27
A “working day” lasts 6 hours (not including travel, warm-up, etc.); as such, it can consist of 2 shifts as defined above. Thus, a fair daily rate can be calculated from these recommendations, for instance:
Day rate for 2 rehearsals: €345.27
Day rate for 1 rehearsal + 1 concert: €517.90
In the case of multi-day projects, employers and musicians can negotiate a reduced day rate for the entire project, based on these recommendations.
A single recording session can last up to three hours, including a break of at least 20 minutes, and should be compensated as a concert shift (see above).
As of January 2023
Recommendations for small ensembles and bands
The Musicians’ Guild recommends the following minimum fees for performances by bands and ensembles whose members act in a solo capacity – for instance, a four-person pop band or classical chamber ensemble.
The minimum recommended fee is €370, for a “regional” act. There are no recommendations for “soloist” fees; they are subject to free negotiation.
- Concert, international act: €770
- Concert, national act: €570
- Concert, regional act: €370
- “Playback” appearance, radio: €470
- “Playback” appearance, television: €770
- Rehearsal fees
1 day (max. 8 hours): 50% of a concert fee
– Surcharge for Sundays and holidays: 50% of a concert fee
- Royalty release for concert recordings: 1 concert fee
- Television recording/broadcasting: 2x concert fee
- Video or audio recording: 1 concert fee
As of April 2022
Recommendations for freelance instrumental and vocal teaching
The IGFM recommends a fee of €66 per hour (gross) for freelance music teaching. The fee should be adjusted according to the specific situation.
IGFM: Honorarempfehlungen der IGFM
As of January 2023
Collective agreement for musicians, negotiated by the Österreichischer Veranstalterverband and Younion
The following salaries were negotiated by the Österreichischer Veranstalterverband (Austrian Association of Concert Promoters) and Younion, the Austrian labor union association. They apply whenever a member of the Veranstalterverband engages musicians.
§32, Appendix A/1 of the Collective Agreement for Musicians of 1. May 2022
Amounts are displayed as monthly salaries in euros.
|Daily||4x per week||3x per week||2x per week|
|Working time of 4 hours or less per workday||1,502.25||1,103.79||927.49||651.30|
|Working time of up to 5 hours per workday||1,743,68||1,252.75||1,066.86||736.34|
|Working time of up to 6 hours per workday||1,901,65||1,364.57||1,156.79||810.47|
As of May 1st, 2021, musicians are to receive payment for work outside of their home according to the following minimum hourly wages:
€43,50 (gross) per hour for working times up to six hours.
€36.10 (gross) per hour for longer working times.
The minimum payment for a working shift is €77.70.
As of May 2022
Guidelines for Composition
The starting point for these fee guidelines was an estimation of how much time goes into the composition activities; additional factors including business-related and living costs were also considered, as was the average income of a self-employed worker in Austria (according to Statistik Austria). When considering whether the suggested fees are appropriate or not, it is important to consider whether the compositional work is significantly greater or less than the average presented here.
|1 – 10 Min.||10 – 15 Min.||15 – 20 Min.||20 – 30 Min.||30 – 60 Min.||über 60 Min.|
|Werke für 2 Instrumente||ab 2.000||ab 2.600||ab 2.900||ab 3.100||ab 3.400||ab 7.100|
|Werke für 3 Instrumente||ab 2.600||ab 2.800||ab 3.100||ab 3.400||ab 3.600||ab 7.700|
|Werke für Solo Instrumente||ab 2.800||ab 3.100||ab 3.400||ab 3.700||ab 3.900||ab 8.400|
|Werke bis 9 Instrumente||ab 3.100||ab 3.400||ab 3.700||ab 4.000||ab 4.300||ab 9.180|
|Werke bis 15 Instrumente||ab 3.400||ab 3.800||ab 4.100||ab 4.500||ab 5.100||ab 10.200|
|Werke bis 20 Instrumente||ab 3.900||ab 4.200||ab 4.600||ab 5.000||ab 5.400||ab 11.475|
|Kammerorchester||ab 4.400||ab 4.900||ab 5.300||ab 5.700||ab 6.200||ab 13.114|
|Sinfonieorchester||ab 5.100||ab 5.600||ab 6.200||ab 6.700||ab 7.200||ab 15.300|
|Großes Sinfonieorchester||ab 6.200||ab 6.800||ab 7.400||ab 8.000||ab 8.600||ab 18.360|
|Musiktheater bis 15 Min.||ab 3.000|
|Musiktheater bis 30 Min.||ab 5.000|
|Musiktheater bis 60 Min.||ab 7.000|
|Musiktheater/Bühnenmusik Große Häuser||30 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Bei der Verwendung von Chor oder einer Solostimme||25 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Bei der Verwendung von Video||30 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Elektronische Werke werden wie Solowerke d. o.g. Mindesthonoraren behandelt.|
|Bei zusätzlicher Verwendung von Instrumentalisten gelten die o.g. Empfehlungen.|
|Bearbeitungen/Remix/Arrangements||50 % der o.g. Mindesthonorare|
|Die Notenmaterialkosten entsprechen den „Herstellungskosten für das Aufführungsmaterial“|
|Herstellungskosten für das Aufführungsmaterial||15 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Festivalzuschlag||25 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Klavierauszug||30 % Zuschlag zu den o.g. Mindesthonoraren|
|Mindesttarife für Proben mit Musiker*innen:|
|Im Inland||80 Euro/Stunde|
|Im Inland Festivals||120 Euro/Stunde|
|Im Ausland||160 Euro/Probe|
|Im Ausland Festivals||200 Euro/Probe|
|Preis pro Auftritt und Person||500|
|In einer Gruppe (bis drei) pro Auftritt und Person||750|
|Im Ensemble pro Auftritt und Person||400|
|Solo mit Gruppe/Ensemble pro Auftritt und Person||1.000|
As of April 2023
Minimum Wages in Austria: Collective Agreements
Austria has no minimum wage required by law. However, 99% of employees are covered by collective agreements (between employers and labor unions) that include a minimum wage. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Labor Union Association have agreed on a minimum wage of €1500 per month (gross) for most collective agreements.
In comparison: Germany has a statutory minimum wage; as of 2021, all workers must be paid at least €9.50 per hour (gross). They also have a right to vacation time and paid sick leave.
Further information on fee recommendations, rates, and international best-practice models
- The minimum fees of the IG Freie Theaterarbeit (Association of Freelance Theater Workers) have been partially integrated into the subsidy structures of the City of Vienna’s cultural department (MA7).
- The IG Bildende Kunst (visual arts) has its own list of fee recommendations.
- The IG Autorinnen & Autoren (literature) offers fee guidelines for readings and discussions.
- The association of museum and exhibition guides offers recommendations of their own (as of 2018).
- The National Chamber of Architects and Engineers offers a calculation program for fees.
- Designaustria (graphic design association) also has a calculation program.
- The IG Kultur has developed a wage table and fee recommendations for cultural initiatives.
- The Deutsche Orchesterverband (orchestra association) publishes fee recommendations for freelancer orchestra and choir musicians, musicians in smaller ensembles, and soloists.
- The initiative art but fair is a supporter of fair working conditions and wages in the performing arts and has a list of best practice models.
As of 2023
The Development of Fair Pay Measures in Austria
The City of Vienna held a symposium in 2019 on the subject of fair pay. Since 2020, the Federal Ministry of Culture has been working on the development of a fair pay strategy, together with the Austrian states and the Austrian Cultural Council. From the beginning, mica – music austria has supported the effort with our expertise.
Parts of the music industry are governed by collective agreements – for instance, the major orchestras in the various states, the State Opera Orchestra, and the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien (Vienna theaters). The Promoters’ Association has also negotiated a collective agreement with the Austrian Union Association/Younion for its members.
The associations for freelance composers and musicians have each developed minimum fee recommendations for their respective areas.
It should be noted that the EU began a consultation process in 2021 with the end goal of allowing individual self-employed workers to bargain collectively.
This listing of fee recommendations has been published for the purpose of grant applications and as a basis for negotiation; it is intended both for applicants and funding bodies.
It is important to mention that it the responsibility of the employer to determine whether activities require a fixed employment contract or not; if fixed employment is required, a collective agreement may apply.
The fees for musical work are agreed upon between a musician and their employer. These agreements should be put in writing. If no written agreement exists, in the absence of any applicable laws to the contrary, a reasonable payment for services is still required according to Paragraphs 1004 and 1152 of the Austrian Civil Code: “If the performance of a service for another entity is either explicitly or…implicitly conditioned on payment, the agreement is a contract of payment. […] If the contract does not specify payment and [the services are not specified as being provided] free of charge, a reasonable payment is required.”
The fee recommendations are dependent on musicians providing a service. When considering a reasonable payment, one should consider whether the services to be provided are considerably above or below the norm.
The fee recommendations are intended to apply to individual musicians and their artistic work, as well as the administrative and other duties they perform themselves, and are not intended to apply to services provided by agencies, management, or ensemble management.
Current news about fair pay
This information has been published with the cooperation of:
The IGFM is a national organization for freelance musicians from all genres. Founded in 2020, the association actively supports the improvement of conditions for all freelance musicians in Austria.
The Musicians Guild is a public-interest organization of active musicians and Austria’s largest representative organization for freelance musicians.
Younion is a labor union representing more than 145,000 members in Austria, from 200 different professional groups in 2000 Austrian cities and towns.
Austrian Composers Association
This public-interest organization represents roughly 700 composers living and working in Austria, from all genres and styles.