Becky Baldwin

5 reasons for musicians to join a union

Unions are here for everyone, no matter your job. Meet Becky Baldwin, bassist in three-piece all-girl punk band IDestroy. The band has been touring Europe and the UK non-stop for the last 18 months, but Becky still has time for the Musicians’ Union. Here’s why:

Image: Boris Schöppner

1 – “If you want to be a professional, you have to join”

“At uni, they told us professional musicians join the union. So I did. Six years later, the Musicians’ Union has helped me out with lots of different things – checking contracts, chasing payments, reviewing my rights. They take the time to talk me through everything; I feel like I’m in safe hands. You can get into a lot of trouble otherwise.”

2 – It’s always your choice to take action

“When you show an MU officer a contract, their response is usually going to be: ‘this could be fairer.’ But they’ll never force you to negotiate. In my experience, you have to weigh up what you’re going to get with what you’re willing to risk. I like having that power in my hands.”

3 – There are more benefits than you realise

“A lot of MU members don’t realise the benefits that are available to them. For example, did you know union membership can include insurance for musical instruments and equipment? There is also lots of training and workshops for members.”

4 – A bit of engagement goes a long way

“I’m on the local committee for the MU. We meet up several times a year and talk about any new issues facing musicians. Most of the time, the officers are already on it! I like being in the know about my industry – I think it’s important. And, because I go to these meetings whenever I can, I’m always up to speed.”

5 – We can make our industry better

“A few years ago, I was trying to get some work through a gigging website. After I joined (£30 a month, thank you very much), most of the good jobs defaulted to ‘male-only applicants’. I was really annoyed and rang up the MU. They put me through to the head of the equalities committee – who then recruited me! The experience made me realise I have a role to play in making our industry fairer.”