Self-Employed and Employed Work in the Arts

In assessing whether artists are employees or New Self-Employed persons, it is necessary to check whether the characteristics of personal dependency outweigh other characteristics. When artists, such as singers, musicians or actors work with fixed rehearsal and performance times, and are under contract for a performance season, are subject to the instructions of the director or conductor regarding the number of rehearsals, rehearsal times and how the work is carried out, it is, as a rule, an employment contract.

For these reasons, orchestra, choir or ballet-company members who regularly work at the same venue qualify basically as employees. Musicians  responsible for entertainment with a partly predetermined repertoire in a holiday club several times a week for a three-month period also qualify as employees.

However, if they have their own business infrastructure, which means, for example, a website, an artist's studio or a rehearsal space, a recording studio, instruments, their own equipment and furthermore regularly changing principals and enjoy artistic freedom in their performances, they are usually New Self-Employed persons.

A writer giving a reading at a local library, may be assumed to be a self-employed work relationship. The same holds true for painters offering finished paintings to private persons or galleries or for pop bands performing regularly in a variety of venues.

Artists and Traders

Although artists, as a rule, are classified as New Self-Employed, it is sometimes difficult to draw a line between their work and activities falling under the term "arts and crafts" which are subject to the Trade Act. What counts here is whether artistic skills are needed for the activity. If primarily manual skills are required, the activity is subject to the Trade Act. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis.


A photographer who produces artistic photographs of landscapes with the intent to sell them is a New Self-Employed. A fashion photographer who photographs models according to a specific concept provided by the principal, is a commercial photographer who requires a trade licence.

Freelance Professionals and New Self-Employed

The New Self-Employed are entrepreneurs who pursue their activity without requiring a trade licence. The intellectual performances they provide enjoy a certain degree of freedom from government regulation due to the societal role they play in the public's general interest. Their practice should remain subject to a minimum of government supervision or influence. Examples of freelance professions are artists, doctors, lawyers, journalists, lecturers ... 

The difference between freelance professionals and the New Self-Employed is that some freelance professionals are mandatory members of a statutory professional interest group whereas the New Self-Employed are not. The New Self-Employed include, for example, artists, journalists, teachers, lecturers,... 

In terms of  social security matters, artists benefit from certain special regulations, such as the possibility of suspending their self-employed activity. 

See Artists' Social Security Fund