The working life of musicians: mapping the work activities and values of early-career pop musicians in the Dutch music industry

Rick Everts*, Erik Hitters, Pauwke Berkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the working life of early-career musicians after technological innovations transformed the music industry. Based on in-depth interviews, a diary questionnaire study and post-questionnaire interviews with 17 early-career pop musicians aiming to build a career with their act in the Dutch industry, we investigate what day-to-day activities they perform and how they value these work activities. The analysis reveals that musicians perform a wide variety of non-creative work activities, including DIY and entrepreneurial tasks. Moreover, they spend over 40 percent of their time on creative tasks, and, remarkably, devote minimal time to social media. In addition, three accounts of value were identified which shape the way musicians perceive their work, as they understand their work in pop music as art, as a business or as a hobby, transcending the traditional art-commerce dichotomy. This way, the paper contributes to our understanding on the nature of work and how early-career workers perceive its value in the creative industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-117
Number of pages21
JournalCreative Industries Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported as part of the project Staging Popular Music: Researching Sustainable Live Music Ecologies for Artists, Music Venues and Cities (POPLIVE) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Taskforce for Applied Research (NRPO-SIA) under grant number 314-99-202, research programme Smart Culture - Arts and Culture. Partners in this project are Mojo Concerts and The Association of Dutch Pop Music Venues and Festivals (VNPF).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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