This is a guest post by Sam Chapman. If you have useful advice and want to share it in front of thousands of independent musicians, click here.
If you are a musician trying to making a living in the competitive music industry, you may have come across the Musicians Union (MU). The Musicians’ Union is an organisation that protects the interests of musicians in the UK, providing legal advice, education and training, insurance, and much more. Even if you aren’t from the UK however, you may still want to read this article. It can give you an idea of the type of services that are out there for musicians, and allow you to know what to look for in your own country.
So, what are the benefits of joining such a union? Well, this is exactly what we look at below. I hope this article will give you a better idea of what help you can get as an independent musician, and show you that professional help isn’t as unobtainable as you may have first thought.
A lot of musicians are only really interested in one thing: Making great music. Most of us are creative types, and don’t always like dealing with the business aspects of the industry. While professional legal advice is something any level of musicians making money should have access to, these kind of services can be expensive. Music industry lawyers, for example, can easily cost in excess of £100 per hour.
This is far too expensive for most musicians, and a ‘luxury’ that most people don’t end up taking. With the Musicians Union however, professional legal advice comes as part of the package. They can help with contract disputes, fees recovery, and many other legal matters. If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you contact them first to make sure they can offer the legal support you require.
As an independent musicians, it’s becoming increasingly important to diversify your income streams. There are a lot of jobs in the music industry that can tie in with your role as a musician. Sometimes, during early stages you may need to do more then one music related job to earn a full time living.
The MU can offer career advice, and assist you with realising opportunities. They will be able to offer advice about the expectations of different areas of the industry, as well as inform you of relevant training available.
As a musician, you may find yourself dealing with performance contracts, record contracts, publishing contracts, and other types related to the music industry. The contract advisory department at the Musician’s Union can offer you advice and guidance regarding the terms of the contracts offered to you.
As mentioned before, music industry lawyers are expensive, so it’s wise to get professional advice before signing any type of contract. As a MU member, you also get access a catalogue of ‘ready-made’ contracts that you can download and use. These are legally binding, and hold more weight than a contract you may have put together yourself.
As we all know, the music industry is built around contacts. By joining the Union, you are putting yourself in the ideal position to make new contacts. You can do this by attending their in-house events, and by getting involved in their online community. You can also discuss industry related matters with other professionals in your sector, which can be hugely beneficial. The MU has regional offices, making it even easier to network with musicians in your local area…
As a musician, getting appropriate insurance to cover your equipment etc can be a challenge. Many insurers see musicians as high risk, as often you have expensive equipment travelling around from location to location. Once again, this is something the MU can help you with.
They have negotiated special insurance schemes for musicians. In fact, by becoming a member, you are automatically given public liability insurance up to 10 million pounds. This means that if someone injures themselves as a result of your actions, you have some protection in place. This covers you at a range of locations and in a range of situations.
Often, finding the right person to talk to within a company can be difficult. To help with that, the Musicians Union publishes lists of contacts to their members. This is a reliable source of up to date contact information of managers, labels and much more.
Education and Training
As I previously mentioned, the Union puts on a range of industry events themselves. These include seminars and workshops, and give you access to training that call help you in the music industry. They also provide a lot of advice specifically for music teachers.
A good amount of musicians earn money from teaching music. The MU advises music teachers on the issues of teaching in schools, colleges and from home.
Musicians Union Rates And Conclusion
If you’re at the stage in your career where you’re looking to deal with contracts and need additional support, the Musicians’ Union could be for you. You can access all of the above for £177 per year, or only £20 per year if you’re a student. If you’re still studying, there’s no reason not to snap up this low rate asap. If you’re not a student, you may want to think about whether the MU is worth the cost at this stage of your career.
If you have the money and want additional help from experts, the benefits are clear. If you are earning money from music, joining the Union may well be worth the outlay. Even if you’re an amateur musician, it may still be beneficial for you to sign up. You can develop your knowledge of the industry, and make contacts to enhance your career. Ultimately, whether or not you decide to join will depend on your personal circumstances and goals. One thing that is clear, is the Musicians Union plays a vital role for UK musicians. After all, 30,000 members can’t be wrong.