60% of Freelancers ‘Optimistic’ about the Next 12 Months but Changes Still Needed.

Produced in partnership with Handle Freelance Solutions, THE BACK LOUNGE and UK LIVE Event Freelancers Forum, ‘Powered by Freelancers – The Live Music Edition 2024’ is the first in-depth analysis of its kind and was commissioned to help understand and identify the changes required to improve the experience of the freelancers who are crucial to the success of the live music industry.

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

The UK’s live music industry generated £5.2 billion in 2022 and the summer of 2023 showcased a post-pandemic resurgence for much of the sector, despite challenges remaining for grassroots music. This report identifies a core positivity but with key concerns and suggestions for improvement and demonstrates how the live music industry can become an even more attractive, inclusive, and safe space to work for all.

One of the key findings 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, which include financial security, better pay, flexibility and work-life balance; factors that are becoming increasingly important to those working in live music.

Around recruitment and securing work, 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. Throughout the report, varying factors around age and gender point towards an imbalance that demonstrates the need to nurture opportunity and diversity to ensure that the industry attracts a wide range of new talent and is a secure and positive place to work.

The cancellation of work by event organisers at short notice also emerged as a key concern for many of those taking part in the survey. 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.

Darren Woolnough, Managing Director at Handle Freelance Solutions said, “The research mirrors the conversations that we have daily. 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.”

Suzi Green, Founder of THE BACK LOUNGE said, “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. Hopefully it will spark conversations, provoke reactions, and ultimately help influence positive change in some of the areas where change is much needed.

Paul Jones, Director of Ethix Management, the Event Production & Management Specialists said, “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. 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.”

Jon Collins CEO of LIVE said, “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 ground breaking report, the first of its kind, and in doing so deliver invaluable insight into the freelance experience. 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.”

UK Music Industry’s First, Comprehensive Study of Freelancers in the Live Sector Reveals Both Optimism and Concerns


Handle Payroll Solutions Ltd T/A Handle Freelance Solutions, Ink Rooms, 25-37 Easton St, London WC1X 0DS

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