There are many organisations out there that can make an independent artist’s life so much easier. We thought we’d make your life easier (as we always do!) and create a blog series on some organisations that every artist should consider. Stay informed and think about why you might want to join them.
The MU (Musicians’ Union)
Who is it for?
All musicians, music creators and writers. Our members range from students, young bands and emerging artists to full-time employed musicians, high-profile artists and those doing a bit of everything. The benefits of MU membership reflect the diversity of our members and we therefore provide advice, services, support and representation across all genres, professions and sectors of the industry. If you’re performing, recording, writing or teaching music, we can help you.
What’s the cost?
£16.75 per month, or if you’re a full-time student it’s only £20 for the whole year.
Who are you & what’s your job?
Kelly Wood, Live Performance Official – As part of The MU’s Live Performance department I help to produce information and advice for our members surrounding relevant and current issues: getting gigs, fees & ticketing deals, festival bookings, funding opportunities, working with agents, visas, national & international touring advice, travelling with instruments etc. Following on from the launch of the MU’s Fair Play Guide (http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/news/2012/04/27/fair-play-a-guide-to-co-promotions-ticket-deals-and-live-opportunities-2/ ) and as part of our ongoing work with music venues, we have created a database of ‘Fair Play Venues’ in order that artists can access details of venues that commit to treating musicians fairly.
Matt Wanstall, Regional Officer (North of England) – I look after the MU members in our region (there are 6 across the UK). Whenever you need help, advice or have a music related issue as an MU member you would get in touch with our office first of all. No two days are the same – one moment I might be advising on a 360 deal with a major label and the next I might be helping a busker and anything else in between. Music work can be so diverse these days and that is reflected across MU members and the support we provide.
Why should I join?
Joining the MU allows you to access a wide range of benefits and services that will help you to launch and sustain a career in music. Essentially the MU helps you to take care of the business side of your music, whilst also providing essential supports like insurance (£2k instrument & £10m Public Liability) and legal advice & assistance. We’re full of useful information and ideas when you’re being proactive in terms of building your career, and if things go wrong (unpaid fees, cancelled gigs, employment disputes, breaches of contract, band fall-outs) we’re well equipped to help you and act on your behalf. One of the single biggest benefits is the free contract advice that we provide – invaluable to emerging acts in particular, who often cannot otherwise afford professional advice. If you are offered a management, recording, publishing, agent or any other music industry contract you get an initial free hour and in most cases “aftercare” (3 additional free hours). This is provided by one of the top London music and media firms and there is no limit to the number of contracts you can submit per year.
I’m in a band & there’s four of us, do we all need to join or is one of us enough?
MU membership is individual so each band member would need to join in order to all be entitled to the benefits. However, in the scenario that one band member joins the MU, they would be able to access information and advice in relation to the band and they could also potentially use the legal services in relation to the band’s affairs so long as they were a named party on the contracts or correspondence in question. A real perk to having all band members in MU membership, though, is that you can then have a bespoke Partnership Agreement drawn up by our lawyers, which is vitally important for bands embarking on a career together. A Partnership Agreement sets out a band’s relationship and structure in legal terms and will usually contain clauses relating to song-writing, royalties, finances, activities, decision-making, band line-up, support structure and ownership in terms of the music and band name.
Who can I talk to if I want to find out more?
Matt.email@example.com / Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org