Self-Employed and Employed Work in Artistic Fields

For assessing whether artists are employees or New Self-Employed persons, one needs to check whether the features of personal dependence outweigh the other features. Where artists, such as singers, musicians or actors become active based on fixed rehearsal and performance programmes, and they contract for a performance season and are subject to the instructions of the director or conductor regarding the number of rehearsals, rehearsal time and how the work is done, it is, as a rule, an employment contract.

For these reasons, orchestra, choir or ballet-company members who regularly work at the same venue basically qualify as employees. Musicians who are responsible for evening 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.

If a writer gives a reading in a local library, a self-employed work relationship may be assumed. The same holds true for painters offering finished paintings to private persons or galleries or for pop bands who regularly perform at various concert halls.

Artists and Traders

Although artists are, as a rule, classified as New Self-Employed, it is sometimes difficult to draw a line between their work and activities in what is called 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 in order to sell them later is a New Self-Employed. A fashion photographer who photographs models in certain garments 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 independence from government regulation due to the role they play in society in the general public's interest. They should be carried out with as little government supervision or influence as possible. Members of the liberal professions are, for example: artists, medical doctors, lawyers, journalists, lecturers ... 

The difference between Freelance Professionals and the New Self-Employed is that freelance professionals are members of a statutory professional interest group whereas the New Self-Employed are not.

Freelance professionals are, for instance, medical doctors, lawyers, public accountants,... 

The New Self-Employed include, for example, artists, journalists, teachers, lecturers,... 

As far as social security matters are concerned, artists benefit from certain special regulations, such as the possibility to suspend their self-employed activity. 

See Artists' Social Security Fund