• The ISM becomes the Independent Society of Musicians

Change comes as the ISM publishes Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector which revealed discrimination and harassment rife in music workplaces, wins landmark case in The Supreme Court and doubles its membership.

For the last 140 years, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has campaigned on behalf of the music profession. The last few years have seen the ISM respond to the significant challenges faced by musicians by increasing its services to members, publishing ground-breaking reports based on original research enabling it to campaign fearlessly on behalf of musicians and the sector and defending members’ interests including through the courts when necessary. Recently, these have included publishing Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector, winning a landmark case in The Supreme Court on holiday pay and raising awareness of the huge impact COVID-19 and Brexit has had on musicians that have resulted in changes in government policy. The ISM’s new name will make it even more effective in its advocacy and support for its members.

As one of the leading professional bodies in the UK, the ISM was recognised by the UK Association Awards in 2021, when the organisation won the Individual Member Association Award of the Year. The ISM Is a nationally recognised subject association for music. The unique effectiveness of the ISM in the music sector is due to its financial and political independence and the change of its name to Independent Society of Musicians reflects the values which lie at its core. The ISM’s founding objectives to support the music profession and promote the art of music remain unchanged.

Founded in 1882, the ISM’s ever-growing membership is drawn from all areas of the sector and across a wide variety of musical genres, backgrounds and nationalities. The ISM membership encompasses performers, music teachers, composers and songwriters, music therapists, music students, music administration staff, music technology professionals, and a wide variety of music organisations.

The independence of the ISM allows the organisation to speak with authority on the issues facing musicians something it has done for generations. This independence is ever more important as the ISM works for its members to resist any reduction to employment protections, dealing with the cost of living crisis, threats to the curriculum in our schools caused by spiralling costs and accountability measures, continued impact of the global pandemic, challenges created by Brexit and issues around diversity and inclusion.

With the publication of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill there are indications from the Government that it intends to weaken workplace protections such as the right not to work more than 48 hours per week. Recent ISM research shows the damage which can be done if the workplace is not safe. The ISM’s recent major report Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector revealed discrimination and harassment is rife in music workplaces where it is extremely difficult to speak out because of a culture of fear. The ISM will fight any attempt by the Government to water down workplace protections since our research is clear where this leads. If the Government is serious about productivity then we need safer working environments where harassment and bullying and discrimination are a thing of the past.

Deborah Annetts, ISM Chief Executive, said:

“This is an incredibly exciting day for the ISM as we become the Independent Society of Musicians. Our independence has long been a crucial factor in our effectiveness and enabled us to bring about significant change for those working in music. Our new name better reflects our core values and our absolute focus on improving the lives of musicians.

The past few years have been some of the most tumultuous the music profession has ever seen. The ISM has played a leading role lobbying governments of all four nations and relevant stakeholders on behalf of all those working in music and at the same time providing highly relevant services such as focussed legal advice and professional development.

Today’s announcement is about the ISM investing in the future and will support the ISM in delivering its founding vision for the next 140 years.”

Vick Bain, the ISM President in the 100th year of the role, said:

“The ISM has a formidable history; we have been at the forefront of musical life for 140 years and it’s with great pride that we take these steps forward today.

In recent years the ISM has become a powerhouse for campaigning and the result of this work can be seen in five Brexit reports and ground-breaking research into music education including the two recent publications, Music: A subject in peril? and The Case for Change.

And the ISM has a strong reputation for inclusion. Right from its inception, women were welcomed as full members and the importance of inclusivity can be seen in ISM’s recent work, namely the Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector report. They have formed the bedrock of the ISM’s campaigning to improve the workplace experiences of those in the music sector.

The word “Independent” is central to everything we do so I welcome the new name. It reflects who we are and what we do.”