We aspire to improve standards in the live performance industry, empowering independent musicians to earn a living from their music.
We believe music is art, not a commodity. We believe the beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder and, in that way, art is invaluable. Paradoxically, we also believe in a reality where musicians can earn a living by performing their craft.
Musicians’ Living Wage exists to advocate for equitable pay on behalf of independent artists and working musicians. By engaging musicians, music lovers, and local industry stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue, we are creating a community with a vested interest in supporting local music by promoting education and awareness for the importance of musicians’ ability to earn a self-sustaining income in music.
Our objective for the Musicians' Living Wage is to create a forum where anyone can join the conversation, trial new ideas, and collectively improve the standards for independent musicians. In its fully-developed form, Musicians' Living Wage will have online platforms with industry news, educational materials, and promotional tools empowering musicians to earn a living from their music.
Austin is known worldwide for its live music with over 2,000 artists and 8,000 professional musicians. The problem is only a thin margin of those musicians are making a living from their music; the vast majority rely on supplemental income and many are working full-time day jobs to support themselves. As the cost of living continues to rise, musicians’ pay has remained the same as it was decades ago.
This issue was brought to a head in 2015 when the City of Austin funded a census revealing that more than 20% of Austin's professional musicians are living below the Federal Poverty line ($11,670) and 80% are making less than $15,000 (gross) per year from their music. There were quite a few initial attempts to organize conversations but the dialogue seems to have fallen silent while the issue persists.
There has a been a groundswell of support from organizations like All ATX, Black Fret, HAAM, and SIMS Foundation who are serving Austin musicians through their charitable missions. But this is a systemic issue and Austin is one of many cities across the country that are scrambling for solutions.