Motion introduced to require publicly funded venues to pay a minimum fee to musicians
25.11.2021

Motion introduced to require publicly funded venues to pay a minimum fee to musicians

band setup
(Image: waferboard via flickr, adapted, https://www.flickr.com/photos/60944931@N00/4413568063)
Words by Eli Duxson

NSW aims to align with South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland to adopt a minimum fee of 250 dollars

As first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, a motion introduced into NSW State Parliament on November 22 will require publicly funded venues to pay musicians a minimum fee of 250 dollars.

What you need to know:

  • New South Wales’ State Opposition has introduced a motion that will require publicly funded venues to pay musicians a minimum fee of 250 dollars.
  • The motion would align the state with South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland as live music gets well and truly back into the swing of things.
  • It could come into effect as early as ‘Great Southern Nights’.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House John Graham introduced the motion as we continue reopening with the upcoming Destination NSW-funded ‘Great Southern Nights’ and said “it’s vital to make sure there is support for musicians and artists more generally”.

Mr Graham told Sydney Morning Herald “when there is public money at stake there is a public expectation that musicians are actually getting paid”.

“We know that is not always the case, this is an attempt to bring that to a head in New South Wales,” he said. 

Mr Graham’s proposal would bring the state in line with Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland.

The musician’s minimum fee would cover a three-hour call (150-200 dollars) plus meal, travel, and set-up time allowances (50-100 dollars).

Musicians Australia also suggests an artist’s fee may be paid on top of that, but it should not be undercut.

Musicians Australia is a branch of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance who supports freelance musicians as Director Paul Davies said, “if you pour beers at a pub or wait tables you’ll get a minimum wage by law but if you’re standing in the corner of the pub, holding a guitar and singing, you can be playing for peanuts”.

With the motion only covering publicly-funded venues, drummer and performer of 30 years Logan McCrory told SMH that he has been negotiated with to accept beers and food with a reduced fee. 

The Live Performance Award rate for casual musicians is currently $53.71 per hour as a minimum, while there are nuances like being an opera principal ($35.71 per hour) or a vocalist ($39.84 per hour) which affect rates, but all performers should at least be paid the relevant industry standard.

McCrory said “the biggest part about getting the minimum wage is starting to legitimise what we do”.

“Putting us alongside other people like tradies or doctors or anyone that spent a long time training. 

“I mean, try getting a plumber to come around for 100 dollars, it isn’t going to happen,” he said.

The motion will continue to be deliberated. 

Join Musicians Australia here.