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How the MU Works

Learn about how the Musicians' Union works and how members take part in Union's work through representative democracy, music sections, campaigns and workplaces.

Last updated: 09 May 2024

Learn about Union's structures


Read more about Democracy

Music Industry Body

Read more about Music Industry Body

Workplace Representation

Read more about Workplace Representation
We are governed by our members through representative democracy



Everything we say and do has the power of over 34,000 musicians behind it

Trade unions have power because of their members, and the MU is no exception. The MU is a democratic organisation, governed by its members through a system of representative democracy, like all other trade unions.

Our democratic structures means that everything we say and do has the power of 34,000 musicians behind it.

Every member can be involved as much or as little as they wish. Explore how you can be better represented, and how to get involved with shaping the MU's policy through its democratic structure.

Find out more about democratic structures

Our members shape MU's policy through music industry sections

Music industry body

Music industry body

Representing the views of different parts of the music profession

Our 'Music Sections’ act as focus groups for musicians working in different areas of the music industry such as music teaching, recording, composing, orchestras, theatre or live performance. These groups represent the views of different parts of the music profession, and are vital to informing our work helping to shape our policy. 

Find out more about MU music sections

We campaign on behalf of our members at local, national and international levels

Campaigning and lobbying

Campaigning and lobbying

Giving musicians a voice

The MU is in regular contact with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and ensures that musicians are represented during vital debates that affect musicians working at all levels of the industry.

The MU plays a leading role in the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) – the international organisation for musicians that incorporates 72 unions from across the world. FIM’s main objective is to protect and further the economic, social and artistic interests of musicians organised in member unions.

Trade union members need a political voice

Politicians make decisions that affect the lives of union members at work and at home. Unions need to be able to influence those decisions.

The MU is part of the Performers’ Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) – a cross-party group of MPs and Peers who act as advocates for the performing arts. One of the major achievements of the APPG is that it is genuinely cross party – something which is extremely rare for a trade union parliamentary group.

The MU takes part in meetings and receptions at the House of Commons that give performers the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with members of both Houses.

The MU's Political Fund allows us to pay its share of the costs of the Performers’ Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group. It also allows us to remain affiliated to the Labour Party.

Members can opt in or out of paying the levy to the MU's Political Fund at any time

Representing members through

We negotiate with industry employers through collective bargaining and agreements

Workplace representation

Workplace representation

Negotiating pay and conditions for musicians

Collective bargaining is a core priority for the MU - and collective agreements are something that only trade unions can agree with employers.

The MU negotiates and agrees fees, rates and conditions with all the major UK employers in orchestrastheatres, engagers, organisations, as well as setting our own promulgated rates.

Browse our collective agreements with employers