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Recording and Broadcasting Section

The MU R&B department negotiates collective bargaining agreements with broadcasters and umbrella organisations for other regular employers of session musicians (record labels, independent film and TV producers, and advertisers).

Last updated: 30 March 2021

The negotiated collective agreements set out the terms and conditions under which session musicians work, when engaged by each employer, for the next three to five years. 

We also issue licences for the secondary use of recordings. An example can be a pop track that is recorded and then subsequently synchronised into an advertisement. Most music users realise that the Master Rights need to be cleared with the label, and the Composition Rights with the Publisher, but often a licence from the Musicians’ Union in respect of the Performers’ Rights is overlooked. This leads to a high degree of detective work on our part, and no small amount of persistence in order to  extract the required fees. 

Some session musicians do not grasp the importance of signing MU approved session forms. Experienced session musicians are inclined to complete the MU approved forms.  

In the UK, there is an automatic granting of rights from the musician to the label or production company. If you turn up to a studio and don’t sign an MU approved form which holds back some of these rights, you have inadvertently lost them all, aside from the right to PPL income which, thankfully, can’t be transferred. 

Our overall aim is to maximise the pay and employment of UK session musicians, and to collect every secondary use fee they are due. Making sure MU approved forms  are signed gives us the tools to do so. 

Recording and Broadcasting Section Committee 

The Committee comprises members who are session musicians, contracted artists, home recording artists and others, in order to ensure that all aspects of recording and broadcasting are properly represented on the Committee.  

“Sitting on the R&B Committee has allowed me to become involved with the negotiations for rates,” says trumpeter Paul Spong, whose career includes playing with Wham!, Elton John, Wet Wet Wet and Robbie Williams. “Change seems to take a long time in the music industry. The recession that hit in 2008/2009 seemed to freeze everything across the board, with no rate rises; everybody’s wages remained stagnant.” 

“I think we waited for a good six or seven years before the BBC and  PACT rates were increased. The Union did a remarkable job in negotiating the rates to keep pace with inflation. It’s small, slow movements, but it’s the only way things will change. I think we’re in a better place than we have been for a long time as a Union, and my work with the Committee allows me to feel personally more involved in helping my fellow musicians and to progress music.” 

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