Many professional performers work freelance and are, therefore, self-employed. The Corps of Army Music is currently the UK’s largest employer of professional instrumentalists offering a career up to the age of 55. For orchestral players, employers include ballet, symphony, opera and chamber orchestras some of whom will be large enough to employ musicians on full-time contracts. These employers will also employ people on a freelance basis to play specialist instruments, for certain performances and to cover absences, e.g. for those on maternity leave.

Self-governing orchestras, which tend to be less financially secure than the bigger orchestras, will employ musicians on a regular basis, but tend to pay their musicians as freelancers rather than as salaried employees.

There is also occasional work offered by independent fixers for choral society performances, recording sessions and outdoor performances. Freelance musicians or permanent staff can take on this ad hoc work.

The most common employers of singers are opera companies, as there are very few professional choirs. This can lead to other employment opportunities as many of the larger choral societies employ opera singers for solo and oratorio work.

Musician