EXCLUSIVE: 63% of entertainment professionals earn less than £5,000 per year

Mandy.com can reveal that a whopping 63% of entertainment industry professionals earn under £5,000 per year thanks to a lack of access to higher paid work. The Mandy Network recently carried out one of the largest surveys of UK entertainment professionals and discovered that over half of professionals take unpaid roles each year and 60% are forced to take on second jobs, unrelated to entertainment, in order to survive.

4th December 2018
/ By Andrew Wooding

mandy entertainment industry report THEMANDYNETWORK

Our Pay & Opportunities study also reveals that only 13% of professionals take home more than £20,000 per year.

Entertainment professionals are faced with long periods of unemployment, with one in five (19%) unable to secure paid work within the past six months.

In the talent category, 68% of actors, dancers and musicians clawed in less than a paltry £5,000 over the past 12 months, forcing 66% to take on at least one additional job to survive. 

Shockingly, just under a third of talent have never had an entertainment job that lasted more than a week. 

"Getting exposure" is a term often used in the industry and the lack of pay and opportunities means a staggering 53% of all talent agree to do unpaid work to gain experience and get themselves noticed.

Mandy.com also analysed film and TV crew members and found that, while pay amongst crew is higher than talent, 54% of crew members still earn less than £10,000 per year, 13% take unpaid work every month and 12% have been unable to find paid work in the past six months.

entertainment industry pay opportunities report PIXABAY
54% of crew members earn less than £10,000 per year

The report also demonstrates evidence of a gender imbalance within both pay and opportunities in the sector. 82% of women earn less than £10,000 per year compared to 69% percent of men, while 63% of women compared to 57% of men have a second job outside of entertainment to help support themselves.

“Four years ago we revealed that 77% of actors earned less than £5,000 per year - despite a slight improvement this year, the survey shows that impossibly low incomes are still the norm amongst the acting community, in fact this is the case across the entire entertainment sector, whether you’re cast or crew, musician or dancer,” said Phillip Large, CEO of The Mandy Network. 

“Entertainment careers are always going to be laced with uncertainty and periods of downtime. But as this industry continues to draw criticism for its lack of diversity, too many of the meaningful job opportunities are still being handed out behind closed doors.”

The report’s findings also indicate a high level of anxiety, stress and depression amongst all entertainment professionals. Overall, 63% of women and 48% of men surveyed struggle with anxiety, 59% of women and 61% of men suffer from stress, and 37% of women and 36% of men admit to battling depression.

Finally, the study highlights the positive impact of technology on the fortunes of entertainment professionals, with 69% of respondents claiming that online platforms have been helpful when looking for/securing entertainment industry work. 

“With a scarcity of good opportunities in our sector, it’s vital that candidates take the initiative and do everything they can to bolster their chances of success, whether that’s marketing and promoting themselves via social media, using communications tools to audition for roles that would be difficult to travel to or collaborating with others to create films, theatre and content themselves,” Large added.

Our aim is to empower our members to take control of their own career and we saw a great example of this when Christ Overton crewed his short film The Silent Child using Mandy.com, on an unsalaried basis, and won an Oscar earlier this year.

Mandy.com's study was conducted with over 3,000 active members of the entertainment community - click here to see the full entertainment industry report.

Philip concluded by saying "The report is only the first step, we have identified a number of issues and started to raise awareness, but we don't want to stop there. For this survey to be of any use we need to use it to drive real change in the industry. However, we can't do it alone and so we will be seeking the support of a number of the leading associations, union and educators. Hopefully, together we can develop a clear set of actions that will support creative professionals across the UK."


Ian Macnaughton


How is it because of Brexit? Patriarchy? Seriously? Am I missing something isn't it just 'People being screwed because they or others are willing to be screwed. Every unpaid job taken allows this to continue.

Ian Macnaughton


Interested to know if there was a return on 'the Silent Child', did everyone involved get a share of it?

David Cruickshanks


Great article but I'd love it if we could come out of our particular silos and just work as an acting community for the benefit of everyone.

Corinne Strickett


It is a very depressing read but not surprising. Things need to change and not sure how that can happen without a more equal and transparent auditioning/payment/respect process and not just 'jobs for the boys'.

Warren Spencer


Well this makes for depressing reading, no wonder I'm struggling. Will carry on a bit longer but not forever.

Ruben Smith Studios


Shocking report, but then again why should I be? I'm one of those statistics! The entertainment industry is huge, it's high time the wealth is evenly distributed.

Sean Ruttledge


Yeah, this is because of Brexit and the Pay Tree Arkie

Joe Hassan


Brilliant article highlighting something that is a genuine problem in this industry. Not only because it causes financial difficulties for those who endeavour in the business but also a real stigma about the industry and its 'legitimacy' (if you would) from the outside world. One of the first questions anyone ever asks when I mention I am working on something new and exciting simply is, 'Is this one paid then?'. As soon as I tell them it is not, they stop listening as in their mind it does not count as something 'professional'. Easily proven wrong by the linked article about The Silent Child.

I do have an idea of how to make a difference in regards to this problem and would love for someone from Mandy to contact me about taking it further. Hoping that my comment on here will get picked up and someone will message me! :)