Open Access

The Many Faces of the Freelance Performer of Contemporary Music in the 21st Century

In The Chamber Musician in the Twenty-First Century, , Ed.


This chapter examines the many non-musical skills that are required of the freelancing contemporary music performer. Recent generations of musicians working in contemporary music are increasingly self-managing their work rather than having agents or management teams. These musicians now need to learn the skills of agents and managers as well as those of marketers, PR agents, lawyers, fundraisers, project managers, social media managers, and compositional coaches. The increasing use of digital technology in both their performances and their marketing also demands that new skills be acquired, from a wide knowledge of computing and audio-visual hardware to skills in programming, photography, and video editing. This chapter has two main parts. One is a case study of one of the author’s own touring projects, examining the many skills and costs required during the two years of commissioning and performing. The second is a survey of mid-career freelancing contemporary music performers—performing as soloists and chamber musicians—that sheds further light on the range of skills developed and utilised by contemporary music performers, their approach to self-training in these skills, the time and financial pressures of self-managed work, and some of the troubling discriminatory issues that they have faced as freelancers. Finally, a number of recommendations address these systemic issues, with the aim of creating a more sustainable, artistically vibrant, innovative, and diverse contemporary music culture.

The Chamber Musician in the Twenty-First Century
Published in:

The Chamber Musician in the Twenty-First Century

Mine Doğantan-Dack ORCID link
, Ed.
Published: July 2022
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