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Attending Recording Sessions

Recording session safety advice for freelance musicians during Covid-19

This information refers only to recording session work undertaken in England. Recording studios in Wales and Northern Ireland remain closed by law currently. Advice will be updated as and when this situation changes.

The Scottish Government has recently published new guidance for creative studios and shared workspaces, which the MU fed into and which you can read on their website.

The decision about returning to the workplace or performing in public is one that only you can take. You must make sure that you take adequate steps to review any relevant guidance and come to a sensible decision based on your own enquiries.

The MU’s advice is for general guidance only and does not represent any instruction, encouragement or advice to return to or begin work. The MU can accept no liability for the consequences of your decision including any illness or other adverse impact.

Questions to ask before taking part in a recording session

You may wish to consider the following points before making your decision:

Is the proposed recording session lawful?

The Government has enacted Health Protection Regulations restricting the operation of certain business types and activities. The regulations are subject to regular amendment based on the prevailing Covid-19 infection rate. Prior to a recording session taking place the recording studio should ensure that such activity is not restricted under these regulations.

Have you been provided with a copy of the venue’s Covid-19 risk assessment in relation to the proposed recording session?

Government guidance suggests that detailed risk assessments are conducted prior to any work taking place. A copy of the risk assessment relating to the proposed recording session should be provided to you in advance, giving you enough time to read and understand it, and be comfortable that the level of risk of Covid-19 infection has been sufficiently minimised.

Are you aware of the health and safety measures and procedures that have been put in place by the venue in order to minimise your risk of infection?

Your working environment is likely to have changed significantly since the last time you were there. Some examples:

  • You will be required to observe social distancing throughout your time at the venue. In order to enable this, arrival times may be staggered, or a socially distanced queuing entry system may be in place.
  • You may be required to submit to a temperature check on arrival and sign a form to confirm you are well enough to work.
  • One-way systems, or signed right-of-way systems, may have been set up in corridors of less than two meters width.
  • New reduced room capacities will be in place and should be sign-posted at entry points. Recording should be undertaken in smaller ensemble groups within socially distanced studio layouts.
  • New cleaning and hygiene procedures are likely to be in place.
  • Toilet facilities may be operating with reduced capacity, and socially distanced queuing, which may require adjustment to the scheduling of breaks.
  • Special arrangements should be in place regarding handling of sheet music and session form paperwork in order to minimise the risk of passing infection.

Details of all new measures and procedures should be made available to you in advance, giving you enough time to read and understand them, such that you can make an informed decision on whether you feel safe to undertake the work, and comply with any requirements made of you on the day.

Are you at higher risk from Covid-19?

Whilst Covid-19 can make anyone ill, for some people the risk is higher. NHS England has identified two categories of higher risk (high and moderate). If you fall into either of these categories, you should inform the contractor in the first instance to ascertain whether any extra precautions can be put in place in advance of the session to help preserve your safety.

What if I still don’t feel safe to undertake the recording session?

Everyone has a right to work in an environment where they feel safe. If, having answered the above questions, you do not feel safe to undertake the recording session, or you have raised concerns which have not been sufficiently addressed, you should not go ahead with the session.

If this is the case, please contact our Recording & Broadcasting department to discuss your concerns by emailing rb@theMU.org or calling 0207 840 5559

Advice on attending a recording session

Having been sufficiently reassured that a safe working environment has been provided in which to undertake the recording session, here are some other things you will need to consider:

Safe travel to and from the studio

The Government has published detailed guidance on travelling safely during Covid-19, with which you should comply at all times. Read the guidance on the Government’s website.

Social distancing

You should have been provided with detailed information regarding specific measures that have been devised by the studio to ensure social distancing is encouraged wherever possible (as per the ‘Safe Working’ advice, above).

You should ensure you have read and understood the details of these measures in advance of arrival at the studio. The measures are likely to mean your working experience is quite different to how it was before.

Inevitably mistakes are likely to be made as everyone tries to adapt to the new ways of working and interacting. Work will undoubtedly progress at a slower pace than before, and everyone is likely to find it a little awkward initially. Please have consideration for your fellow musicians and other studio staff, whilst everyone adapts.

Studio layouts

Previously, additional mitigations such as extended social distancing, were required for singing, wind and brass given concerns that these were potentially higher risk activities. DCMS commissioned further scientific studies to develop the scientific evidence on these activities, which has allowed these additional mitigations to be reconsidered.

From 15 August 2020 both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance. People should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible. Workplaces, employees and their customers should ensure 2m distancing applies wherever possible.

However, these studies have also indicated that it is the cumulative aerosol transmission from those present in a workplace that is likely to create risk. DCMS are continuing to develop more detailed understanding of how to mitigate this potential aggregate risk, but in that context, workplaces should therefore consider:

  • Maintaining social distancing wherever possible.
  • Limiting the number of performers as far as possible. (with non-professionals being restricted by rules on Meeting people from outside your household).
  • Taking steps to improve ventilation as far as possible and whenever possible, both through the use of mechanical systems, opening windows and doors whenever possible, and additional breaks in recording.
  • Continue to take other vital steps, including preventing unwell people from attending, maintaining cleanliness, supporting contact tracing and other mitigating measures.

By considering and adopting these measures cumulatively, the overall risk will be reduced. See more in UK Music safety guidance in workplaces for music production. 

Hygiene and cleaning

In advance of agreeing to undertake the recording session, you should have been provided with detailed information about the cleaning regime in place at the studio to help prevent the potential spread of Covid-19 from contact with surfaces and equipment. The Government have provided guidance on the level of workplace cleanliness required to minimise the potential risk of infection on their website.

You should clean your hands on arrival at the studio, either with hand sanitiser or soap and water depending on what has been provided for you, and try to clean them as regularly as arrangements will allow during the day. It is advisable to bring your own hand sanitiser with you in order to ensure schedules are not unduly disrupted.

Instruments should be cleaned regularly using your usual cleaning method and should not be shared with anyone else.

Food

For the time-being studios will be unable to supply food or drinks. You will be expected to bring your own food to the studio including bottled water as necessary, as studio water coolers will not be in use. It is possible you will be asked to remain in your seat during a lunch break, in order to ensure social distancing is preserved.

It probably goes without saying, but it’s advisable not to share food or drinks with anyone else at this time. Please also ensure that any rubbish is placed in bins if provided or taken home at the end of the day.

Temporary variation of MU agreements

We have published some temporary variations to the terms of the MU’s collective bargaining agreements covering recording sessions in order to allow sessions to be conducted as safely as possible. 

Insurance

Your MU public liability insurance is valid, provided that you and the studio in which you are recording are following the government guidelines, and subject otherwise to the MU PLI policy terms and conditions.

Contact us

We will continue to update this advice as and when required, but if you have any immediate queries, or concerns that have not been addressed, please contact our Recording & Broadcasting department by emailing rb@theMU.org or calling 0207 840 5559

Teachers' Toolkit

Session Variations Covid-19 (PDF 55.31 bytes file opens in new window)