A New Union

Australians love live music. It’s everywhere and part of everyone’s life. It’s also a multi-million dollar industry, yet the majority of musicians do not make a living from music.

• Average musician incomes are below the minimum wage.
• Most need to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
• After preparation time & other expenses, musicians are left with a fraction of their hourly performance rate.
• Performance contracts are regularly broken. Gigs are often not paid at all, or cancelled with little notice.

Is there any doubt that musicians need a stronger voice? We’ve come together under the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) to form a new union.

An Industry in Crisis

Is music an industry driven by the churn and exploitation of musical talent rather than by the development and nurturing of a sustaining culture?

Here are just some of the key indicators of an industry in crisis:

Musicians are underpaid

For every 1 hour of performance time, musicians spend 3 hours rehearsing, marketing and promoting their music.

After preparation time and related expenses, musicians receive a fraction of their hourly rate when they perform.


Despite making up almost 50% of qualified musicians, women only hold 28% of senior & strategic roles in key industry organisations.

Too many gigs are unpaid

1 in 4 gigs are unpaid, and gigs are increasingly difficult to find. To make matters worse, average musician incomes are below minimum wage.

Most need to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.

Contracts are regularly broken

Gigs are often not paid at all, or cancelled with little notice, with performance contracts regularly broken without consequences.

35% of musicians are paid less than the agreed rate at least 10% of the time.


Membership Benefits


Members of Musicians Australia receive Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance included in their membership, at no extra cost.

Members' Forums

For problem solving and advice, members have access to an online forum and MEAA staff. We will also be launching a new tool to help members identify good and bad venues.

Code of Conduct

By joining Musicians Australia, you stand together with your fellow musicians to support fair fees for live performance, and say no to undercutting and unpaid gigs.

Part of MEAA

Musicians Australia members are part of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australia's largest and most established union for all creative professionals. This gives you access to a range of services, discounts, and benefits.

Get Involved
As the voice for Australia’s working musicians, with a plan to make our industry fair and sustainable, we need to be loud and organised. We need you to get involved. Only with members can we make our plans a reality. That’s why we have developed a new, cost-effective membership including a range of benefits for working musicians.

Membership of Musicians Australia costs just $3.49 a week. For that price, you also get public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

Our Plan To Win

A Plan for Change

We’ve spent the last six months talking with musicians from all over Australia. What we’ve learnt is that the problems with the industry are too complex and entrenched for simple ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions.

Fixing musicians’ income means fixing the way contracts work and making sure performance agreements are reliable and can be enforced; it means getting the settings right so that we can grow opportunities for musicians and encourage the best operators to keep investing; and this means making sure that venues can operate where the audiences and musicians live; ands to do this we’ll need better planning and licensing regulation, from all levels of government.

Getting any of this done requires stability and a set of reliable standards defining the rules musicians will stand by and require of business and the community. Musicians need to know that they can count on fair fees when they play and that they won’t end up being undercut, having gigs cancelled at short notice or money not paid at all.

We need an industry that respects the time it takes to prepare, set up and travel to gigs. We need the best venues and promoters to be recognised for how they treat musicians and we need rogue operators taken out of the industry.

Fair standards for live performance will encourage more musicians to keep up with their craft. It will promote diversity and music that truly reflects the richness of modern Australia. Fair standards for live performance will bring people together, marginalise anti-social behaviour and boost our entertainment and night time economies.

We can all agree on this, so how do we get there? Through our “Love Live Music” campaign we will develop and implement an industry code of conduct.

Fair fees, no unpaid gigs & no undercutting.

How will the Code of Conduct Work?

An industry code of conduct will set fair fees for performances and ensure that musicians will not undercut one another. It will assist musicians demand a minimum fee for performances. Fair fees will allow venues to prosper and provide a reliable base for musicians, with exceptions for genuine “open mic nights”, and charity fund raising.

Under the code, performance fees will account for load in and load out, set up, and sound checks and fair payments will extend to local support acts and festival performances.

It will establish a standard, enforceable, performance fee agreement, in plain English that doesn’t require legal expertise to understand.

Importantly disputes will be dealt with in a no-cost jurisdiction, where lawyers are not required, such as an industrial or consumer tribunal.

And of course, our code will contain principles and guidelines for preventing and dealing with harassment, discrimination, bullying and anti-social behaviour.


How Our Union Works

Musicians Australia is the collective voice of Australia’s working musicians. Our objectives are to:
1. Make a stronger, more rewarding and productive music industry that is driven by and reflective of our diverse, inclusive and creative music cultures; and
2. Ensure respect and recognition of musicians through fair remuneration and a system of reward and recognition that builds and sustains the creative contribution of all musicians.

We'll achieve these objectives through our "Love Live Music" campaign, which promotes:
1. Regulation to promote the development of more performance opportunities for musicians
2. A system of fair and reliable performance fees, including minimum fees for all performances
3. Adherence to standards against discrimination, bullying, and anti-social behaviour
4. A no-cost dispute resolution process

Our campaign actions are directed at all decision makers and all levels of Government, calling for the endorsement and implementation of these standards through an industry code of conduct.

Equally important to achieving our objectives for live music are strategies for recorded music, broadcasting, streaming, and sales. The business of recorded music is hugely profitable but has been so changed in recent decades that most musicians receive next to nothing from it. We need business models and a regulatory system that ensures the investment made by musicians is rewarded at full value.

Speak with the Musicians Australia Team

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