In addition to IT specialists and tech support, artists are among the most likely to be gig workers. In fact, throughout history, you could say that artists have made up a contingent workforce.
Today, professional visual artists work on commission or sell their creations through galleries, art shows or online platforms. There are some actors who are fortunate enough to land a steady gig on an ongoing television show, but most go from audition to audition hoping to land a role in an upcoming stage production or film.
You might be surprised to learn how many musicians are gig workers. And we’re not just talking about cover bands and wedding singers! Most orchestras and symphonies these days do not maintain a regular roster of employed members, rather individual classically trained musicians are contracted for each performance.
One Historical Exception
It seems like artists have pretty much always had to fend for themselves, but there have been exceptions. For example, there was the studio system in Hollywood, which involved a handful of the biggest studios in Hollywood gaining control not only of the films being made but also of the distribution networks.
The studio system also gave the movie studios control over actors. In fact, as Classic Hollywood Central explains, “The Star System is the most famous part of The Studio System. It was common practice between the 1920’s and 1960’s and a big part of the success of Classic Hollywood. In this system the Hollywood stars were employees of the studios that they were working for and were bound to them in contracts.”
Norma Jean Mortenson – better known as Marilyn Monroe – is one of the most famous examples of the studio star system. Her career – in fact her very image – was controlled largely by the studio she signed with.
Which definitely highlights one of the most attractive aspects of being a gig worker: control.
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