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  • Writer's pictureCactus City Staff

Musicians, make some noise: Call to musicians across the country to take part in the first Musicians

  • Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union have launched a new nationwide census to generate the first ever comprehensive picture of the UK’s music-making population

  • Accessible to all musicians*, insights from the Musicians’ Census will help measure changes in the musicians’ community over time, and track long term trends

  • Notable voices from Black Lives in Music, London Symphony Orchestra and UK Music support Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union, encouraging musicians across the country to complete the Census

Musicians in the UK are being urged to take part in the first Musicians’ Census, launched by the Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union. The ambitious project aims to both map the total population of musicians and build a picture of what musicians’ lives and careers look like to help develop a deeper understanding of the community within the UK.

Recent research from Help Musicians has shown the cost-of-living crisis, ongoing impact of the pandemic and Brexit, amongst other factors, are all having a ​‘brutal’ impact on the UK’s musicians with close to half (49%) saying they are ​‘very’ or ​‘extremely’ concerned they will be forced to leave the industry, whilst a further 35% are ​‘slightly or ​‘somewhat’ worried they will have to**. Repeated every three to five years, the Musicians’ Census will allow organisations such as Help Musicians and the MU to monitor and respond to these challenges.

Data will be gathered on demography, diversity, health and wellbeing, and the breadth of working patterns and income. To ensure all musicians, and everyone working on behalf of musicians, can benefit from the project, key findings will be shared with partner charities and music industry bodies. This information will help organisations plan how best to represent, advocate for and support musicians in future years, thereby building a stronger, thriving, more inclusive industry.

Naomi Pohl, Musicians’ Union General Secretary comments: “The world has changed significantly in recent years – and with that, the landscape for musicians. But without quality data and representative insights, it’s difficult to understand what today’s musicians really need and how we can help. There are an estimated 37,000 musicians in the UK – over 32,000 of which being members of the Musicians’ Union. While we interact with musicians on a daily basis, but with the community spanning such a broad range of demographics and backgrounds, we know more can be done to understand the holistic picture. This is why we need the Musicians’ Census – to learn more about the community so we can build a better industry, one that’s inclusive, accessible and fair to all.

“We appreciate that the UK’s musicians are regularly asked to complete surveys by a number of organisations, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. However, to enable us to make real positive change, we to hear what you want and how you feel. The Census takes just minutes to complete; together we can make a difference; together we can bring about real social change.”

Sarah Woods, Deputy Chief Executive at Help Musicians adds: “At Help Musicians, we believe that musicians really count, and we have been working for over 100 years to make a meaningful difference to the lives of musicians across the UK. To date however, there has never been a comprehensive picture of the total population of musicians and without this insight we are unable to ensure our support is as impactful as it can be.

“With the Musicians’ Union, we developed this project to ensure that the future design of our services and support initiatives is truly built upon a detailed and factual understanding of the lives and careers of all those we seek to serve. Working collaboratively with others within the industry to track trends we will all better understand and shape a world where musicians can thrive in the decades to come.”

Industry leaders and notable musicians, including Charisse Beaumont from Black Lives in Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music, and Maxine Kwok at the London Symphony Orchestra are encouraging all musicians to get involved and take the Census.

Charisse Beaumont, Chief Executive, Black Lives in Music says: “Data isn’t about numbers, but it is about understanding big truths and developing actions in a more meaningful way. I'm encouraged that Help Musicians and The Musicians’ Union are conducting the Musicians’ Census. Now there can be acknowledgement of the experiences of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse musicians and organisations can work to help meet their needs. Never has there been a more crucial time to truly help all musicians working in the music industry.”

Maxine Kwok, Violinist and Board Member at London Symphony Orchestra adds: “Improvement can only happen through a greater understanding, which is why I’m really pleased to hear about the Musicians’ Census. Whilst we work under the umbrella of ‘musicians’, we are individuals, and this census will allow us to finally delve into that. It will help us recognise what’s going well for some and the challenges facing others so we can in turn create a better, more inclusive industry for the next generation. With insights comes understanding and it’s only if we understand the problem that we can make real, positive change.”

The Musicians’ Census officially launched on Monday 16th January. To find out more and take part, please visit:

*The Musicians’ Census is open to anyone considering themselves to be a musician in the UK who earns an income from music or plans to earn an income from music in future. Whether that’s performers, teachers, studio engineers, composers etc. – we want to hear from the widest group possible.

About the Musicians’ Union

The MU represents over 30,000 musicians working in all sectors and genres of music. As well as negotiating on behalf of its members with all the major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance for professional and student musicians of all ages.

The Union was founded in May 1893 in Manchester by a musician, JB Williams, who became the Union’s first General Secretary. Further details about the history of the Union can be found here:

About Help Musicians

Help Musicians is a charity that loves music and for over 100 years has been working hard to make a meaningful difference to the lives of musicians across the UK. We want to create a world where musicians thrive.

A musician’s life can be precarious with ups and downs throughout a career. Opportunities must be hard-won, whilst challenges come along all too easily, with unsteady income and physical and mental health concerns common issues to navigate. In addition, training can take many years and, along with investing in instruments and other equipment, puts up financial barriers to creative progression. Help Musicians offers a broad range of help to support music creators in times of crisis and opportunity - ensuring musicians across the UK can achieve their creative potential and sustain a career in music.



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