Your Safety, Your Say

Labour Day is an opportunity for workers across the globe to pause. Whether you use the day to rest and recover, to reconnect with others, or to think about ways to improve the conditions of your trade, the day is about having a breath and look at the reality of labour without the rush of the race for success (or survival).

In a landscape where 71% of music makers and professionals are freelance, however, the date can easily be dismissed and pass unnoticed. This is highly detrimental, given that freelancing is a particularly hostile and challenging model of work. The specificities of freelancing make plenty of room for abuse, exploitation and intimidation. It's vital that we push together for increased standards of protection for freelancers all across our sector, and for that, we need information and perspective.

Last year, Black Lives in Music worked to inform the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) report on Misogyny in Music, which found wide-scale...

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The Challenge of the Perfect Embouchure

The main instrument of any musician is their own body. From the brain to the limbs, to the internal organs, to the skin, different parts of the body interact with musical instruments, with other bodies and the world around them to create music. It's no wonder, then, that musicians and their health are a topic of interest in medicine.

An interesting example was presented by the British Dental Museum this year with the exhibition The Challenge of the Perfect Embouchure. Defined as "the way in which a player applies their mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or wind instrument, especially as it affects the production of the sound," embouchure is critical for players of these kinds of instruments.

The exhibition was dedicated to Maurice Porter, a dentist and amateur clarinettist who became an authority on embouchure during the 50s and 60s. One of the first doctors to pay attention to how poor dental or facial health was specifically detrimental to wind and brass players, Porter wrote some...

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Nominations open for the MU's Executive and Regional committees

Nominations for the Musicians' Union Executive and Regional committees 2024-2025 are open until midday of Wednesday 27th September, 2023.

The Executive committee is the governing body of the union and it's in charge of taking major decisions that affect the working conditions of musicians across the country. The Regional committees are in charge of day-to-day management and perception of local concerns. If you, or someone you know, have a passion for social work and political change, consider submitting your or their name for a nomination. You could make a big difference! 

Click here to read all the information on what the positions entail and what are the requisites to apply. If you have specific questions about the role you'd have in a committee, you can contact our director Millicent Stephenson at [email protected] and ask about her experience. She was part of the Executive Committee for a few years, and she's currently part of the Regional Committee for the...

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Jacob Collier's audience goes chromatic

Jacob Collier is an English musician whose music often features combinations of jazz with elements from many other musical genres. He's known for his extensive use of reharmonisation (which means altering the harmony of an existing melodic line) and close harmony (which means that the distance between the highest and lowest note of a given chord is of no more than one octave). He's also famous for his energetic and interactive live performances, where he usually conducts the audience to sing.

During many years of spontaneous audience interventions, Jacob had been trying to make the choir go beyond the major scale. During a concert in Rome last year, he finally achieved it:

A chromatic scale is a twelve pitches scale where each of them is separated by a semitone (also known as half-step). The semitone is the smallest interval between pitches in the Western scale, so it's uncommon for untrained musicians to sing it intuitively. Suffice to say, that, that an entire theatre...

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Take Action to Stop Job Cuts at BBC Orchestras

Following intense discussions with the Musicians' Union over several weeks, the BBC announced on March 24th that they will not be closing the BBC Singers on September 30th of this year. While these are positive news, the futures of BBC Singers and the BBC Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras are still at risk.

In order to protect these musicians, and keep the British music community stable and healthy as consequence, the MU is calling us to write to the BBC with the following suggestions:

  1. Maintain the BBC Singers as a full-time employed BBC Performing Group with a bright future.
  2. Withdraw proposals to make 20% cuts to jobs in the BBC Concert, Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras.
  3. Commit to maintaining all six Performing Groups as an essential part of the BBC’s public service remit.

If you want to learn more before taking action, or need a template to know how to write your petition, you can find resources on this post by the MU. Consider...

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Take the Musicians’ Census 2023

The Musicians’ Census is a joint project by the Musicians’ Union and Help Musicians to get a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a musician in 2023. The more participants there are in this census, the better these institutions will understand the work and life conditions of musicians in the UK. This will allow them to take more precise action to address our concerns and talk with the government in order to be able to offer:

-Organised support for musicians, regardless of their background.
-Information, advise and training on pay conditions.
-Union services.
-Promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion.
-A steady campaign for a fairer and safer industry.
-Social and legal recognition of musicians' work and importance within the industry.

You can participate following this link: https://www.musicianscensus.co.uk/

Don't forget to share this information with your musician friends in the United Kingdom!

 

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Millicent's Speech For (MU) Motion 20: ‘Being Black In The UK Music Industry’.

This was Millicent's speech to move the (MU) Motion 20: Being Black in the UK Music Industry, delivered at the TUC Black Workers Conference:

Good morning Conference. I am Millicent Stephenson, Musicians’ Union, and I am moving Motion 20, ‘Being Black In The Music Industry’.

Music is important and woven into the fabric of our society. It motivates, soothes, conveys ‘I love you’ and ‘good-byes’. It is a social, physical, spiritual thing which goes through our being. What would life be like without music?

Music is also a professional career choice on par with any other. However, within the music industry there are stratas and issues. One of which is ‘being black in the music industry’.

You may be familiar with Jazz music, songs like ‘Summertime’ and ‘At Last’, but did you know that it came from the black communities of the United States? Also, the root of Jazz is the ‘Blues’, the music of...

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