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July 22, 2013 / Sian Moore

Working conditions and union representation in music work

WERU half-day conference at Hamilton House, Greenwich, 2-6pm 20th November 2013

Despite the vibrancy of the music scene in the United Kingdom, freelance musicians frequently encounter precarious and low-paid employment conditions. Research by the Musicians’ Union reveals that while musicians are typically very highly skilled, they are likely to earn less than £20,000 per year. Moreover, musicians are also likely to come under pressure to work for very low fees, and often for free; a fact which attained some wider public recognition following the revelation that many of the musicians playing at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012 were unpaid. These demands are often rationalised on the grounds that they provide ‘experience’ or ‘networking opportunities’, and so forth.

The purpose of this half-day conference is to engage with the issue of the working conditions in the music profession. What are the main problems musicians face at work? Why do they arise? What kinds of things can be done to improve them? Contributions will be presented from representatives of the Musicians’ Union as well as academic researchers. Opinions from the floor will also be welcome, particularly from those with professional experience in music. Hence we are hoping to attract a range of attendees, from musicians themselves with an interest in discussing the working conditions they encounter, to academic researchers interested in work in the ‘creative sectors’ aka the arts.

A full programme will be made available as it becomes finalised. The event is free to attend and includes drinks afterwards. However, if you want to attend please register by contacting Charles Umney at

We look forward to welcoming you to Greenwich.


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