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LIVE report identifies UK freelancers’ concerns

Powered by Freelancers - The Live Music Edition 2024 surveyed 1,281 professionals and is the first comprehensive study of its kind

By James Hanley on 22 May 2024

Suzi Green

Suzi Green

UK trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) has revealed the findings of a comprehensive survey of freelance professionals working in the UK live music sector.

In partnership with Handle Freelance Solutions, The Back Lounge and UK Live Event Freelancers Forum, Powered by Freelancers – The Live Music Edition 2024 was commissioned to help understand and identify the changes required to improve the experiences of freelancers.

A total of 1,281 live music freelancers contributed to the survey, with 87% of respondents stating that “freelance work provides my primary income.”

“Freelancers are crucial to the success of the live music ecosystem and our industry relies on them to deliver unforgettable experiences for fans,. That is why LIVE was delighted to partner with Handle Freelance Solutions, The Back Lounge and UK Live Event Freelancers Forum to produce this groundbreaking report, the first of its kind, and in doing so deliver invaluable insight into the freelance experience,” says Jon Collins CEO of LIVE, which represents 16 live music industry organisations.

“Much in the report is great to see, not least the resoundingly positive response from people when asked if ours is a great industry to be in. Of course, reports like this will always highlight opportunities for improvement and we will be taking all of these learnings and funnelling them into the work of our LIVE Workforce group, where industry experts alongside ED&I and workforce specialists work towards objectives that positively impact the current and future workforce of our industry.”

“The research mirrors the conversations that we have daily”

The report identifies a core positivity but with key concerns and suggestions for improvement. A key finding was that 73% of respondents agreed that live music is a great industry for freelancers to work in, with over 60% feeling ‘optimistic’ about the next 12 months. However, the report also highlights areas where changes are required to improve the experience of freelancers, including financial security, better pay, flexibility and work-life balance.

In addition, 59% of respondents agreed that enough freelance jobs were available, but 56% said that they found it difficult to access or secure those roles. This also raised issues among younger people and non-male respondents with some expressing less optimism about job security and more difficulty finding work.

“The research mirrors the conversations that we have daily,” says Darren Woolnough, MD at Handle Freelance Solutions said. “It highlights a significant concern where late payments and a lack of formal contracts can often be normalised within the freelance community. Instead of pointing fingers, our commitment is to provide the guidance and solutions to help companies understand how they can deliver an exceptional freelancer experience and this research is invaluable to helping us do exactly that.”

The cancellation of work by event organisers at short notice also emerged as a key concern. With less than half of respondents (49%) having signed contracts in the last 12 months before agreeing roles, a similar percentage have experienced cancellation of work in the same period with 48% having jobs cancelled with less than one week’s notice.

“We now have an invaluable temperature check of where we as an industry, powered predominantly by freelancers, are at, right now”

“Having worked on this since July last year when the idea came to life, I feel both privileged and very proud to be part of an amazing team who have given their all to dive deep into the freelance world and then see the remarkable responses,” Paul Jones, director of event production specialist Ethix Management.

“Taking this survey data forward to help professional freelancers in the live sector become better supported is now one of the priorities. Having previewed to audiences, we have seen some very positive reactions and hope they become a main topic of conversation on improving an industry that so many are incredibly passionate about.”

A link to the full report can be found here.

“Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill in the survey, we now have an invaluable temperature check of where we as an industry, powered predominantly by freelancers, are at, right now,” adds Suzi Green, founder of The Back Lounge. “Hopefully it will spark conversations, provoke reactions, and ultimately help influence positive change in some of the areas where change is much needed.”


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