Artists’ precarity is not just about pay

15 Mar 2022

In the pandemic, government and ACE built a defensive hedge around the most visible aspects of the arts infrastructure. Susan Jones thinks it’s time to dismantle it.

Equity survey shows inflation is a 'workforce crisis'

21 Jun 2022

The members' survey analysis also reveals Black people and the young are disproportionately leaving the sector after the pandemic.

Four Tet wins legal battle over streaming royalties

21 Jun 2022

Electronic artist Four Tet, whose real name is Kieran Hebden, has reached a settlement with his former label Domino Records after signing over the royalties paid when his music is downloaded or streamed.

Hedben was offered a 13.5% royalty rate for streams and downloads, the same rate applied to sales of music, rather than the 50% rate applied to licensing music. 

His deal with the record company was signed before the advent of digital downloads and music streaming services.

The musician argued that digital downloads and streaming of his music should be paid at the higher rate applied to licensing deals for movies and television, in which the record company doesn’t incur the costs associated with producing physical cassettes, vinyl or CDs.

Hebden’s legal challenge was decided out of court but could set a legal precedent for contract disputes in the music business.

In a statement on Twitter, he said that Domino Records “have recognised my original claim, that I should be paid a 50% royalty on streaming and downloads, and that they should be treated as a license rather than the same as a CD or vinyl sale”.

“Hopefully I’ve opened up a constructive dialogue and maybe prompted others to push for a fairer deal on historical contracts, written at a time when the music industry operated entirely differently,” he added.

He shared images of the settlement showing that he is due to receive £56,921.08 in respect of historical income backdated to July 2017, in addition to 5% annual interest.

Gender pay gap increases at major music labels

15 Jun 2022

The gender pay gap has increased at three major music labels, according to data from Music Week.

Based on data from April 2021, Universal Music UK has a median gender pay gap of 27.3% (25.3% in 2020) and an average pay gap of 31% (29.2% in 2020).

Last year, women occupied 27% of the highest paid jobs and 56% of the lowest paid jobs, while bonus pay went to 81% of women and 87% of men.

“While we are on the path to narrowing the pay gap, the positive effects of the actions we’re taking can take time to be reflected positively in the gender pay gap measure,” the label said.

Sony Music UK had a median pay gap of 15% in 2021, up from 8.7%, and a mean pay gap of 27.9%, up from 25.4%.

Women occupied 38.1% of the highest paid roles and 66.1% of the lowest paid roles. The proportion receiving bonuses was close to parity – 81% of women and 83.5% of men – but the median bonus pay gap and mean bonus pay gap both increased.

Sony says it has instigated policies on menopause, pregnancy loss and domestic abuse, now offers Equal Parental Leave, and has continued to appoint women to senior roles, “although we still have more senior men than women”.

Warner Music UK reported its 2021 figures alongside its 2020 numbers, showing an increase in the gender pay gap, from 14.5% to 17.8%, and an increase in the mean pay gap, from 30% to 36.7%.

Women occupy 34% of the highest paid jobs and 57% of the lowest paid jobs. In 2021, 80% of women received a bonus, compared to 91% of men.

Warner Music has set a target to increase female representation in the combined senior and executive positions to 50% by the end of 2025.

Arts organisation takes part in four-day week trial

07 Jun 2022

Not-for-profit arts organisation 64 Million Artists is among 70 British companies participating in a six-month pilot to offer employees a four-day working week with no loss of pay.

More than 3,300 workers are taking part in the scheme, which is the world’s biggest four-day week trial to date. Staff at participating organisations pledge to maintain 100% productivity in return for working 80% of the hours while retaining 100% of their salaries.

Based in London, Brighton and Stroud, 64 Million Artists offers training and development programmes, collaborates with academic institutions on arts research and policy, and issues creativity challenges to inspire artists and promote positive change.

The trial, which launched this week, is organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy and the 4 Day Week Campaign. 

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford alongside Boston College, USA will work with participating organisations to monitor company productivity and staff wellbeing and to measure the trial’s impact on gender equality and the environment. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” Chief Executive of 4 Day Week Global said.

Other companies participating in the trial span the education, consultancy, housing, skincare, food and beverage, marketing and architecture and construction sectors. 


Mayor of London teams up with Creative UK to support freelancers

26 May 2022

The Mayor of London’s Culture Team and Creative UK are joining forces in an effort to tackle "systemic inequalities" facing freelancers in creative industries. 

The partnership will hold an event in July where freelancers and organisations working across London’s creative economy will be given the opportunity to test, prioritise and develop ideas for a more sustainable freelance model for creatives.

The guidance and ideas that emerge from the online event will be taken forward and shaped into a robust business case, as part of City Hall's Redesigning Freelancing programme.

Creative UK said the fragility of the freelance model, which the creative industries rely on heavily, was revealed during the pandemic when many parts of the creative industries experienced a sudden, large drop in their volume of work, with freelancers left unsupported.

Evy Cauldwell French, Development & Partnerships Manager for Impact & Change at Creative UK, said: “Creative freelancers working throughout London continue to face an unequal playing field, with many sadly choosing to leave creative occupations due to unsustainable practices. 

"We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Mayor of London’s Culture Team, with whom we are empowering organisations and freelancers working across London’s creative economy to create a more sustainable future for our growing workforce.”

Arts workers get lowest pay rise of any sector

25 May 2022

Low pay and real-terms depreciation of salaries could ‘severely damage’ arts sector amid record number of job vacancies, advocates say.

Performance royalties lag amid music sector recovery

17 May 2022

While broadcast and online revenues reached record levels in 2021, royalties from public usage and resultant income for artists have yet to recover from the pandemic.

Equity claims 'landmark' holiday-pay ruling

05 May 2022

Performers' union Equity has hailed a "landmark victory" after an employment tribunal ruled that 16 of its members had a legal right to receive holiday pay.

In an action brought through the union after the 2018 pantomime season, the tribunal ruled that the members had a legal right to receive holiday pay from QDos, now known as Crossroads Pantomimes, after it was sold to the entertainment production group Crossroads Live last year.

Crossroads Pantomimes now has to agree to provide claimants with holiday pay for the affected productions or face a remedies hearing which will enforce a settlement. 

Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming, said: “The consequences of the bravery of the Equity members in this case will send ripples through the industry. 

"Crossroads through their predecessor QDos have for many years avoided industry standards and used their powerful position to deprive our members of the pay and terms and conditions which they are due, including through tactics which the judge referred to as having a ‘potentially chilling effect’. 

"A company as big and powerful as Crossroads should be using Equity collective agreements like the overwhelming majority of major commercial producers."

Live music royalties yet to recover

a band plays to a live audience
27 Apr 2022

While concert revenues and artists payments decline, PRS for Music records substantial growth from online royalties. 

Music venues take cut of merch sales

19 Apr 2022

Academy Music Group (AMG) venues are taking a 25% cut from merchandise sales at live events, according to an investigation by The Guardian.

An undisclosed amount then goes to Universal Music Group (UMG), owners of the world’s three largest record labels, even if the artist in question is not signed to UMG.

In March, post-punk band Dry Cleaning hosted a pop-up merch store away from their gig at London’s O2 Forum, owned by AMG, to retain their profits.

“We probably sold the same number of units, but as we were able to retain 25% it worked out better for us financially,” Band Manager Helena Watmuff said.

Over 380 venues nationwide are included in the Featured Artists Coalition's (FAC) 100% Venues directory, a public database of venues that charge zero commission on artists' merchandise sales.

FAC CEO David Martin said these venues are making selling merchandise at gigs worthwile for artists: “[This creates] a fairer and more sustainable touring circuit, particularly for grassroots and emerging talent.”

Opportunities for emerging artists in market slump

12 Apr 2022

Brexit has edged the UK's art trade out of the global top tier. It could mean more exposure for artists domestically.

Ireland launches Basic Income for the Arts

06 Apr 2022

Up to 2,000 artists will be supported for three years, reflecting a sea change in how arts workers are valued.

Research project seeks arts workers' 'most pressing concerns'

22 Mar 2022

A new research project aims to "build consensus around the most pressing priorities for promoting quality work" in the creative sector.

The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has launched a six-week-long call for evidence, seeking experiences of working in the sector that can form the basis of a sector-wide good work strategy.

The researchers are especially interested to hear from membership organisations that represent large groups, though individual contributions are welcome.

The centre's Director, Hasan Bakhshi, said both labour reforms and sectoral strategies may be needed to address the precarity of arts and cultural work.

Submissions can be made by emailing

Historic legal proceedings against art dealer

21 Mar 2022

Artists' representatives seeking transparency over unpaid resale royalties have commenced historic legal proceedings against multi-millionaire art dealer Ivor Braka.

The Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS) and the Design and Artists' Copyright Society (DACS) say they began making requests to Braka for information in 2006, with Braka reportedly refusing to respond.

The case is the first of their kind brought under the Artist’s Resale Right Regulations in the UK.

The regulations entitle artists to a royalty payment of up to €12,500 on the secondary sale of their works by dealers and associated art market professionals.

“The Artist’s Resale Right, now more than ever, provides invaluable financial support to artists and their estates, so it is imperative that we shine a light on those who are cutting off this essential source of income,” ACS Managing Director Harriet Bridgeman said.

£4m funding opportunity for museums and galleries

17 Mar 2022

Museums and galleries in England are encouraged to apply to the DCMS/Wolfson Fund, opening May 9.

The partners have each contributed £2m to the fund on its 20th anniversary.

Grants are available to up to 370 eligible institutions who want to enhance display and interpretation or otherwise improve access to collections.

Arts Minister Stephen Parkinson called the scheme "a brilliant example of what can be achieved when public funding and private philanthropy come together".

Lottery favourite promises more money for the arts

16 Mar 2022

A new National Lottery operator could mean an extra £439m but details of the deal are shrouded in secrecy.

Arts sector battles a 'great resignation'

10 Feb 2022

Ongoing insecurity seems to be driving an increase in fixed term contracts, as staff demand more pay and flexibility.

Persistent gender pay gap in UK auction houses

03 Feb 2022

There has been little change to gender pay gaps at UK auction houses since 2018.

Reporting by the Art Newspaper has revealed worsening pay gaps at Bonhams, Christie's and Sotheby's. 

Women at Bonhams earn an average of 48p for every £1 their male colleagues receive. A company spokesperson said furlough skewed its figures for 2020 - just 16 staff were on full salary the day they were recorded.

The pay gap at Christie's is 25.6% compared to 25% four years earlier. The firm says most of its global workforce is female, including several new senior hires.

Sotheby's pay gap is now 24.9%; it was 22.2% in 2017/18. It expects new "family friendly policies" to make a difference soon.

Official probe into music streaming market

27 Jan 2022

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate the streaming market "from creator to consumer" following a year-long inquiry by MPs.

The office will consider whether the dominance of major labels is stifling competition or affording any players "excessive power".

While it could be a significant step forward for music creators seeking fair payment, progress remains slow - the DCMS Committee's inquiry and an investigation by the Intellectual Property Office have turned up more evidence but no answers.

The CMA is inviting comments on a study of the market until February 17, with an eye to publishing its findings early next year.


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