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The Musician Journal: Winter Highlights

The Winter 2018 version of the MU’s journal, The Musician, has just been released. As well as print copies distributed to members, it’s available to read as an online magazine – and in large print and audio format too.

The Winter 2018 version of the MU’s journal, The Musician, has just been released. As well as print copies distributed to members, it’s available to read as an online magazine – and in large print and audio format too.

Some of this quarter’s highlights are explored below.

Making the most of merchandise

The winter 2018 issue of The Musician examines how to make merchandise work for you. Recent reports suggest that tour merchandise can account for between 20-30% of a musician's live revenue.

“Merchandise is the backbone to many bands’ success,” says British bluesman Danny Bryant. “It can be the extra bit of money that keeps the van on the road, or the much-needed income that subsidises the occasional necessary low-paying show.”

The piece explains how the first step to successful merch is standing out – thinking laterally to create items that are innovative, dynamic and tiered at different price points.

In a live industry that is becoming increasingly conscious of its environmental and social footprint, the piece also examines how to produce ethical merchandising, without compromising your bottom line.

Simon Emmerson – Celtic soul brother

“I always tell the band members that they should be in the Musicians' Union,” says Afro Celt Sound System founder and stalwart MU member Simon Emmerson, in the winter issue of The Musician.

Since forming in the early 90s, the band have built up a fearsome reputation, fuelled by storming live performances and Emmerson's staunch belief in multiculturalism as a progressive force.

The band have weathered a number of setbacks but Emmerson's biggest concern is Brexit:

“I'm very, very worried, I really am. I'm old enough to remember touring Europe before the Schengen Agreement and it was hell.

“Every time you left the country you had to have a carnet and you'd be stopped at borders for hours. If we go back to that it's going to have a pretty disastrous effect on bands like the Afro Celts that rely on touring around Europe.”

Jess Gillam – a star in the ascendant

A scintillating performance at this year's Proms cemented the reputation of classical saxophonist Jess Gillam.

The young Cumbrian-born musician embodies the spirit of music and youth, a coupling under threat from sustained education funding cuts and the troubling disappearance of music from the secondary school curriculum.

It's two years since Royal Northern College of Music student Gillam reached the finals of the BBC Young Musician Of The Year. Her booking diary is filling fast, she has been signed to the Decca Classics label and she has emerged as a natural broadcaster.

Her BBC Young Musician podcasts tackle everything from exam stress and performance anxiety to the nuts-and-bolts of being a professional musician. Gillam is also passionate about the importance of music education in the UK.

“Music is such a powerful form of communication,” she observes in the winter issue of The Musician. “It should be at the centre of human experience and of our society...That is why it’s so surprising to me that it is not at the heart of the school curriculum.”

Cover stars – the band from the heathers musical

One of the first female pit bands in the West End is profiled in the winter 2018 issue of The Musician.

The six-piece band worked together on the hit musical Heathers, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London.

The piece focuses on the benefits and challenges of working in musical theatre, offers advice to those starting out and highlights the increasing opportunities for women in this sector.

“I'm very grateful to be living and working during a time where there seems to be a certain shift for female musicians,” says the band's guitarist, Emily Linden. “Things are progressing and changing, and there are some awesome opportunities out there. “I just hope more young female musicians feel inspired to make a career in musical theatre.”

You can access the current edition of The Musician, in online, large print and audio format – as well as a number of back issues – on the MU communications page.


Published: 11/12/2018

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