FAQ Coronavirus/COVID-19 for freelance musicians and cultural institutions

This FAQ still offers valuable information but is outdated. If you require further information in english please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

All information for download

What immediate measures can you take if you have lost income due to the cancellation of a scheduled gig or opportunity following COVID-19 precautionary measures?

  1. Document the lost income: It is vital to document all lost gigs, fees and salaries. According to Verdi's specifications, we have created a document facilitating the individual recording of losses. You can download it here (on the right).
  2. Send a change notice to the KSK: KSK-insured persons with loss of income can reduce their contribution payments. Notify the KSK until the end of March and adjust your estimated earned income downwards for 2020. The relevant form is available here (DE).
  3. Suspend and reduce tax payments: Current advance payments of income tax or corporate income tax can be reduced upon request. Please contact your relevant tax office for this purpose.
  4. Apply for Unemployment Benefit II: If applicable, find more details on requirements, application and drawing of Unemployment Benefit II here (DE).

Where can you receive direct financial support?

The Ministers and Senators of Cultural Affairs of the Länder support the proposal of Deutscher Kulturrat e.V. to set up emergency aid funds. Moreover, the Federal Government has agreed to provide additional funding for emergency assistance in the cultural sector. Currently, there is no official information as to when these funds will be set up. The following possibilities for urgent financial assistance exist elsewhere:

  1. Immediate aid from the GVL: GVL beneficiaries who have lost their income due to COVID-19-related event or production cancellations can receive a one-time financial assistance of 250 Euros within the scope of GVL's social grants. More information here.
  2. DOV emergency fund: The German Orchestra Association has set up an emergency fund and launched an appeal for donations. Find all information here (DE).
  3. German Orchestra Foundation emergency fund: The German Orchestra Foundation has set up an emergency fund and launched an appeal for donations. Information on how to apply for financial support can be found here (DE). A membership in the DOV is not required.
  4. Crescendo Emergency Fund: The music magazine Crescendo has also set up an emergency assistance program. Musicians can apply informally for up to 500 Euros. All information here (DE).
  5. Short-time allowances for employees: If you offer employment to more than one person, you can apply for short-time allowances. The Federal Employment Agency pays between 60 and 67 percent of the lost net wage and reimburses employers for the social security contributions related to the lost working hours. In order to apply for short-time allowances, at least 10 percent of the workforce must be affected by a significant work loss. However, short-time allowances are not available for workers in minor employment! All important information can be found here (DE).

The event for which you were booked is cancelled. Are you entitled to a cancellation fee?

The lawyer Peter Raue gives the following advice in the Tagesspiegel newspaper:

  1. Check whether the contract contains a clause on force majeure. If so, this applies.
  2. If this is not the case, the law applies. For this, it is important to differentiate between events cancelled voluntarily and events prohibited officially.
  3. For officially prohibited events, the condition of ‘impossibility’ applies. Artists are released from their obligation to perform, but they are also not entitled to a fee.
  4. In the case of voluntary cancellations, the organizer is bound to the contractual obligations. However, the legal situation is unclear for cancellations made voluntarily yet following official recommendations. Here, the case of force majeure applies again since the organizer has cancelled the event for reasons outside of their control.

In this case, the DOV recommends the following:

  1. Try to postpone the event.
  2. If this is not possible, claim contractually agreed cancellation fees or try to negotiate these retrospectively with the organizer on a goodwill basis.
  3. For documentation purposes, keep written copies of contractual agreements and cancellations and document your lost fees. This might be useful at a later date when applying for compensation payments.
  4. Be sure to negotiate possible cancellation fees when entering new agreements.

What digital tools are available for online teaching?

Tools for online teaching:

Tips and experience reports about online teaching:

Which digital tools can you use as a musician e.g. for monetizing digital concerts?

Platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo and Instagram can be used for videos and live streams. Platforms like Buymeacoffe, Ko-fi, Patreon or Steadyhq allow artists to provide products or services and be compensated through different types of payment. Payments can also be accepted via Paypal. Be sure to check to what extent these incomes need to be taxed.

Newly established quarantine tv enables musicians to disseminate videos easily via Vimeo. After sending a short clip of the video and a Paypal.me link to the platform, quarantine.tv then shares the clip on their channels. As soon as someone donates, the artist sends the full video and password to the donor.

Who can you contact if you run a venue and are now facing significant challenges?

Venues and festivals are advised to get in touch with Livekomm and its regional associations, such as KlubNetz e.V. in Lower Saxony. LiveKomm has already launched a comprehensive package of measures and provides a wide range of information for promoters and venue operators on its website (DE).

What happens to public funding allocated for a project that has to be postponed or cancelled?

This must be agreed upon with the funding institution on a case-by-case basis. In principle, the funding commitment remains effective even if the event is cancelled, as this is a case of force majeure. In any case, it is important to inform funding institutions about the current status of the project. The Stiftung Niedersachsen has already released a statement regarding this matter. The Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe has published an infographic about the handling of project funding with regards to COVID-19 providing an overview of steps to be taken.

How can you help freelance artists now?

Consider donating to the following emergency funds:

Show solidarity by signing the following petitions:

You can also help musicians by not returning concert tickets but rather attending postponed events. The #aktionticketbehalten campaign supports this cause.


Landesmusikakademie und Musikland Niedersachsen gGmbH
Geschäftsstelle Musikland Niedersachsen


T +49 511 64279204

Die Landesmusikakademie und Musikland Niedersachsen gGmbH ist eine Gesellschaft des Landesmusikrats Niedersachsen e.V. in Kooperation mit dem Land Niedersachsen, der Stiftung Niedersachsen und der Niedersächsischen Sparkassenstiftung.