Understanding Musicians’ Award Rates in Australia

musicians award rates Australia

The music industry is a vital part of Australian culture, with countless talented musicians, artists and orchestras providing entertainment and inspiration to the masses. However, many people are unaware of the intricate business details involved in music, such as musicians’ award rates in Australia. As an orchestra administrator, artist or musician, it is essential to understand the award rates and how they impact your work and potentially your income.

MEAA (The Australian Musicians’ Union), a professional organization dedicated to supporting artists, plays a significant role in establishing Award rates that musicians must be paid. These rates serve as a baseline for minimum pay and conditions for working musicians. It’s crucial to note that Award rates may vary depending on the specific orchestra, and level of experience of the musician.

In this guide, we’ll explore musicians’ Award rates in Australia and explain the role of the Union. By the end of this post, orchestra administrators, managers and musicians alike will have a better understanding of Award rates in Australia and how to ensure they receive fair compensation for their work.

Whether you’re a seasoned musician and performer or new to the music industry, this guide is a must-read for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of musicians’ award rates in Australia.

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Musicians’ Award Rates in Australia

What is an award?

An award in the context of Australian employment law refers to a legal document that outlines the minimum pay rates and minimum employment conditions for specific industries or occupations. There are over 100 industry or occupation awards in Australia, covering most employees in the country.

Awards apply to both employers and employees and provide a baseline for minimum pay and conditions. However, if an employer has a registered agreement in place, the Award may not apply to them.

Employers can be covered by more than one Award, depending on the jobs that their employees perform. Just like a building and construction business may have qualified carpenters and office staff who perform administration work, requiring coverage under two separate awards; orchestras will have various staff types like philanthropy, marketing and administration staff alongside their artists.

Like anyone in Australia, artists are entitled to the National Employment Standards and Awards. Fair Work can assist with finding the right award and therefore minimum wage and entitlements for musicians using their award finder.

Some awards that might be relevant to orchestras are: the Live Performance Award and the Broadcasting, Recorded Entertainment and Cinemas Award.

These Awards can help by providing venues and administrators with minimum rates for musicians’ payments and additional allowances required in different situations.

Repercussions to not adhering to Awards

Penalties for non-compliance can vary depending on the specific act of violation and the jurisdiction in which the organisation operates. In some cases, penalties may include fines, sanctions, or legal action. It is therefore important for organisations to stay up-to-date with relevant laws and regulations and to establish compliance protocols and training programs for employees to avoid potential penalties.

It is also important to note that ignorance of the law is generally not considered a valid excuse for non-compliance. It is the responsibility of organisations to be aware of the relevant laws and regulations that apply to their operations and to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance, no matter their size.

musicians australia members

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Musicians Union of Australia

As a classical musician in Australia, understanding your award rates and employment conditions is crucial to your career. That’s where unions come in – the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Musicians Union of Australia (MUoA) are unions that works to represent musicians in the Australian music industry, advocating for their rights and ensuring fair working conditions. The MEAA & MUoA both play a vital role in negotiating employment conditions and rates for musicians in Australia. They work with employers, including orchestras, to ensure that musicians are paid appropriately and have suitable working conditions. This includes helping negotiate pay rates for rehearsals, performances, recordings, and other related work.

Joining the MEAA or MUoA can provide numerous benefits for musicians. By joining, for example, you gain access to a range of resources, including legal assistance and industrial advice and support. Additionally, they can help you negotiate contracts and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your work. Membership also provides access to networking opportunities, which can help you connect with other musicians and further your career. You can see what you become entitled to as a member of MEAA here.

As a musician, singer or artist, you are likely able to join MEAA. The MEAA website has more information on the application process here.

The Musicians Australia website may also be of interest for musicians as they help musicians to determine the total fee including the minimum fee for a standard 3 hour call as set out in the Live Performance Award; amongst other support.

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Calls and their impact on income

In Symphona, and in the Awards you’ll begin to read through, you’ll notice the term ‘calls’. Calls are an industry specific term most appropriately equated to shifts in other industries. Calls can exist in different types and lengths. Common call types are rehearsals and performance or performing calls.

There are very custom agreements that can exist about changes to calls, balancing of calls, call counting within call ceilings and floors; but we won’t go into those as they are often determined by Enterprise Bargaining Agreements within specific organisations.

A commitment to supporting orchestras and musicians

At Symphona, we believe that every musician deserves fair compensation and working conditions. That’s why we’re committed to ensuring organisations adhere to industry Awards and standards; and support musicians with their unique challenges when it comes to getting paid adequately for their work.

Our commitment to supporting both organisations and musicians in this regard takes many forms. Most notably, through our Project Offers feature. Currently, Project Offers serves as a non-financial first step in negotiating a project based relationship. It is our intention in time to serve our customers better by integrating the financial implications of such offers into Symphona.

We’re working closely with musicians and industry experts to develop our app with best practices – but what we believe this looks like in future is being able to support fee negotiations and components that impact them, like work history, based on data held by Symphona.

Ultimately, our commitment to supporting organisations to adhere to industry awards and standards is rooted in our belief that music has the power to transform lives and bring people together. By creating a more fair and equitable music industry, we can help ensure that musicians are able to continue creating and playing the music that enriches our lives and touches our souls.

If you’re an administrator or musician and all of the above feels a little overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and we can connect you with people that can help.