Players’ work time

A history of the British Musicians’ Union, 1893–2013

This book is a history of the British Musicians’ Union (MU) from its origins in 1893 to 2013. It uses the Union as a prism through which to examine changes in musicians’ working lives, the industries they work in and wider British society. It argues that musicians can best be considered as particular sorts of worker and that while the MU’s history has hitherto largely been ignored or marginalised, it has much to teach us about musicians, their working lives and the power dynamics of the music industries.

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‘Anyone interested in British musicians and their enduring union should read this book. It identifies the most significant changes in music industries since the early twentieth century, and helps to contextualize the problems and challenges facing musicians today.'
James P. Kraft
Journal of Popular Music Studies
June 2017

‘One of the significant achievements of Players' Work Time is its scope. In this admirable history, its authors demonstrate the complex of influences – social and political, economic and cultural – that govern the employment of those seeking to make their livings as musical workers.'
David C.H. Wright
Journal of Popular Music Studies

‘Their tale is a major contribution to the sociological and political history of British music. Here is the first book to document and analyse the role of the MU in promoting the interests of the nation's professional musicians. It is about musicians as workers, skilled individuals often employed by competing, competitive markets. The book trawls public and private archives to capture a wealth of information about the working conditions of countless musicians whose collective contributions to Britain's cultural life carry major historical significance.'
Andrew Stewart
The Musician: Journal of the Musicians' Union
Winter 2016

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