Musicians’ Union Releases Report On Low Pay & Related Musicians’ Concerns

Work-not-playThe UK-based Musicians' Union recently commissioned research into what musicians in the UK are facing in terms of low pay and related concerns. Though it's certainly not comforting, musicians in the States will find that UK musicians are contending with similar issues. In addition to The Working Musician report, the Musicians' Union also launched the Work Not Play campaign to address musicians being pressured to play for free.

The Musicians' Union (MU) is quite unlike anything I know of in the U.S. for musicians. They currently represent over 30,000 musicians and provide a variety of services:

"As well as negotiating on behalf of musicians with all the major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance for professional and student musicians of all ages.
The Musicians’ Union has specialist full-time officials available to immediately tackle the issues raised by musicians working in the live arena, the recording studio, or when writing and composing.
Such issues can range from copyright protection to valuable contractual advice or from the recovery of unpaid fees to crucial work in health and safety."

The likelihood of American musicians getting together at such a scale is exceedingly low due to historical and cultural reasons. So, though the MU does address such issues as piracy, unlike the industry-oriented organizations in the U.S. that get most of the press they don't limit themselves to campaigns that are at least as much about corporate concerns as they are about the concerns of working musicians.

For example, musicians being pressured to play for free led to the launch of the closely related Work Not Play campaign that either began with or was inspired by the effort to get musicians paid during the 2012 Olympics in London.

As with any such research, certain aspects of The Working Musician report may seem obvious. But wouldn't it be bad science if they left that out?

The Working Musician Findings

  • There is no such thing as a typical musician
  • Tax, benefits and financial services are ill equipped to support creative workers in the UK
  • Working hours and employment status for musicians are extremely varied
  • Working musicians do not attain earnings comparable to other professional groups in the UK
  • Too many working musicians will face retirement with little or no independent pension provision
  • Royalties from compositions and recordings are important additional sources of income for working musicians

The Report's Conclusions

"The major question the findings of this research poses is; for how long can the UK maintain a pool of world beating musicians and attract new talent from all backgrounds given the earnings potential of the average musician and the spiralling costs associated with education, training and sustaining a musician’s career?"

Be sure to download the free report for more details, facts, figures and handy charts.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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