The MU calls for better treatment for freelance musicians

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

The Musicians’ Union is backing a new petition calling for a law to force employers to pay on time for freelance work. The petition reads: “Too many times have we all (as freelancers) faced clients that do not pay, or take forever to do so. We have no structure or law to support us in this matter except for small claims court. Sometime larger clients can bully a sole trader/contractor into relying on their terms, rather than other.

“Employers and agencies often sit on the money to gain their own interest rather than pay quickly and on time. The freelance contractor has no power and has to wait because the money is valuable to them.”

According to research by the IPSE and the Freelancer Club, free work costs freelancers an estimated £5,394 per person every year. It also found that the freelancers surveyed spent an average of 31 chargeable days in the past two years working for no pay, with free work disproportionately affecting women and young workers.

Over half (54%) of freelancers have worked for free in the hope of gaining exposure of their work, and one in five (20%) identified working for free as standard practice in their industry.

You can sign the petition here.

The MU has set up Work Not Play to raise awareness of musicians being asked to work for little or no fee, and show employers and engagers why this practice is wrong.

“More and more professional musicians are being asked to work for free on a regular basis,” said the MU. “Over 60% of MU members we surveyed last year said they worked for free in the previous 12 months. Amongst students, that number was even higher. Over 90% told us they had been asked to work for no fee in the previous 12 months.”

The MU is encouraging those who have been asked to work for little or no fee to tweet their story using the hashtag #WorkNotPlayMU or email the union at



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