Being a professional musician is a difficult path. It’s a long journey from playing small pub gigs for nothing more than the joy of playing to a crowd to building enough profile that you can support yourself on your musical earnings.
On the way to this dream, you’re going to need support from some professionals to keep youself safe and avoid some of the pitfalls that are waiting for you in a creative career. Fortunately, lots of professional bodies, charities and other organisations exist to make sure you get the support you need to navigate this difficult world.
If you work regularly as a musician you may wish to join the Musician’s Union. As well as being a good hub to connect musicians with resources like rehearsal space, tuition and of course each other, they also ensure good standards throughout the music industry. If you’re being forced to work extra hours without overtime pay, for example you can appeal to the union for representation and advice.
They also campaign about issues affecting musicians. For example, the Musician’s Union is campaigning for better provision for musicians traveling on airlines with their instruments.
While no one wants to encounter legal problems, being self-employed and working for many different clients means the possibility to run into difficulties are multiplied. If you have a contract to sign that you are uncertain of, run into the problem of non-payment for your services or need to protect your intellectual copyright, you may need to consult a music lawyer.
Lawyers who specialise in performer’s issues are available, or you may wish to use a less specialised lawyer who you already have a relationship with. Using an online lawyer rather than a high street firm can help you keep costs down by making sure you only pay for the service you need, rather than a whole hour’s appointment. Reading and advising on a contract before you sign it likely be a quick job, and using a lawyer who will only charge you for the time taken puts this service in your reach and makes it more financially justifiable.
Other support can be found through ISM, the professional body for musicians. Even if you’re not sure what sort of help is appropriate for you, joining and making contact with ISM gives you access to people who can identify who can help you, and connect the two of you.