250 students made aware of the career paths of Swiss musicians as part of the Mystères de l'UNIL

From May 31 to June 11, 2021, the LIVES Centre met more than 250 pupils from the canton of Vaud within the framework of the "Mystères of UNIL". This year, because the doors of the university could not be opened as they should be, the workshops took place in the classrooms of the French-speaking part of Switzerland, during 2 weeks. The LIVES Centre went to about 15 classes with its animation "S'adapter au tempo: Les parcours professionnels des musicien-nes romand-es". A workshop combining music and lifecourse, in order to teach students a little more about the many different types of musical careers. 

There are about 1200 musicians in French-speaking Switzerland. Their career paths are extremely varied and have been analysed thanks to the Musicians' Lives study conducted by sociologists Marc Perrenoud and Pierre Bataille. In order to identify their particularities, a team of 7 researchers from the LIVES Centre met 123 musicians between 2012 and 2015. These professionals told them how they earned their living from music throughout their careers.

Musicians frequently have many activities (rehearsals, concerts, studio, teaching, composition, etc.), which contributes to the richness of their professional trajectories. However, when analysing their income, three main types of career stand out.

  • Creators (26%) - These artists compose and perform their own music, either alone or in a group. They derive a significant part of their income from royalties, sales of recordings and fees for performances in theatres.
  • Artisans (35%) - These professionals are more anonymous. They perform mainly on stage and usually play the music of other musicians. Their income comes mainly from payments they receive for their performances at music bars or private events (weddings etc.).
  • Teachers (39%) - The group of teaching musicians is the largest in the study. This activity allows them to have a stable income. In addition to teaching, they continue to perform in public and earn money this way, but it is not their main income. 

To leave a little souvenir for the students, a short playlist representing the musical universe in which the French-speaking Swiss musicians are immersed has been prepared expressly for them. We hope you will enjoy it!

For more information: Marc Perrenoud, Pierre Bataille, Vivre de la musique ? Enquête sur les musicien·ne·s et leurs carrières en Suisse romande (2012-2016), Lausanne, Antipodes, coll. « Existences et sociétés », 2019.