Results of first ever Musicians’ Census revealed

Florence Lockheart
Monday, September 11, 2023

Today's report provides the first detailed insight into the demographic makeup of the UK’s musicians, as well as the barriers and challenges they face

(Image courtesy of the Musicians' Union)
(Image courtesy of the Musicians' Union)

Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union have this morning released the initial findings of the first UK Musicians’ Census. The survey is the largest of its kind ever conducted, with results based on information provided by nearly 6,000 UK musicians and offers valuable insight into the demographic makeup of the UK’s musicians, as well as the economic and career challenges they face.

As part of the initial findings released today, the Musicians’ Census found that, while 70% of professional musicians in the UK hold a degree or higher, UK musicians’ average annual income from music work is £20,700. Close to half of those surveyed (43%) earned less than £14,000 a year from music and 23% of musicians stated they do not earn enough to support themselves or their families.

Help Musicians chief executive Sarah Woods commented: ‘The Musicians’ Census 2023 not only offers unique insight into the make-up of the musicians’ community across the UK but also paints a picture of the distinctive set of challenges musicians face to sustain a career in music… The census findings show that musicians need our continued support and working collaboratively with others in the music industry this valuable insight will enable us to do more in the years to come.’

Today’s publication is the first of multiple reports created from the 2023 survey (carried out between January and March), with further reports expected over the coming months. This year’s census forms part of a larger project which will see the research process replicated every 3 to 5 years, measuring long-term changes in the UK’s music industry.

Nearly half of the musicians surveyed (46%), stated that cost-related barriers are limiting their music careers and over half (53%) sustain their career by sourcing other forms of income outside of music. Other career barriers reported include a lack of clear route for career progression (36%), not knowing anyone in the industry (25%), and unsociable working hours (22%).