What we do
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music.
Since 1882 we have been promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working within music. We are a wholly independent organisation supporting over 7,800 members across the UK.
We protect and support our members by providing them with expert legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialists services as well as access to an active community of like-minded musicians and the enhanced status that comes with being a member of a professional body.
The ISM also campaigns tirelessly for the rights of musicians, in support of music education and for the music profession as a whole. Find out about ISM campaigns.
Members of the ISM come from all over the music profession and from a variety of different musical backgrounds. As well as working musicians, the membership also includes recent graduates and part-time and full-time music students who are eligible for full membership at a discounted rate.
We support our members with a roster of high quality services including:
- one-to-one specialist legal advice and representation from our expert in-house team and a 24-hour legal helpline which operates 365 days a year
- comprehensive insurance: public liability insurance (up to £10,000,000 cover), legal expenses insurance (up to £100,000 cover) and discounted musical instrument insurance
- unpaid fees service that recovers overdue payments owed in relation to a musicians' work
- DBS Disclosure service and safeguarding advice
- tax support services including a daytime tax helpline, tax investigation cover and a discounted tax return completion service
- expert advice from our experienced staff team and access to hundreds of online advice pages
- listings to help you find work including listings in the ISM Music Directory, the UK's only online directory of professional musicians with proven credentials, and the ISM Handbook
- award-winning professional development and networking events including seminars and conferences which members can attend at a discounted rate
- the enhanced professional status that comes with being a member of a professional body
- access to a community of over 7,800 like-minded musicians
- financial help from our Members Fund in times of hardship, and more...
Becoming an ISM member
We welcome musicians from all musical backgrounds and genres, and from all areas of the profession. If you are working in music you can join us as a full or graduate member from just £75.
If you are a music lover and wish to support our vital campaigns work, you can become an ISM friend for just £60 a year.
Entry criteria explained
The ISM is a professional body and therefore musicians applying for full membership (excludes friend membership, student membership and corporate membership) are required to provide proof that they are working at a professional level. In order to ascertain this, there are three routes into membership.
Prospective members are required to provide one of the following:
- Qualification - details of a degree-level (NQF level 6 or above) qualification in music that they have passed. The applicant is required to provide the ISM with the name of their course, date of graduation and the name of the institution they studied at
- References - contact details of two referees who can verify that the applicant is working at a professional level in music. One of these referees must be an ISM member
- Fast-track - contact details of an employer or representing body included in the ISM's fast-track scheme who can verify that the applicant is working at a professional level in music. Speak to our Membership Team to find out more about this route into membership: 020 7221 3499, email@example.com
ISM Music Directory - find a musician
The ISM Music Directory is the UK's only online directory of musicians with proven professional credentials. The Directory lists thousands of musicians from all areas of the industry including teachers, performers and composers.
All ISM members listed in the Directory have agreed to adhere to the ISM Members’ Code of Conduct and the ISM Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy, Code of Practice and procedures as a condition of their membership. Members believed to be in breach of one or more of these codes are subject to the ISM Disciplinary Procedure.
ISM Registered Private Teachers
Our Registered Private Teacher status highlights those who have been reference and DBS checked (DBS Enhanced Disclosure) by us specifically for their work as private music teachers.
We provide high-quality professional development events (workshops, seminars, webinars, conferences, networking events and other events) to musicians to help them develop important skills and make the most of their careers. ISM members are eligible for discounted booking rates for these events and our webinars are free to attend.
In our work to protect musicians' rights and support the profession, we campaign and lobby the Government to make our views known to policy makers. Our Protect Music Education campaign united 134 organisations, 5,000 individuals and many distinguished musicians. Our Bacc for the Future campaign is supported by over 170 organisations and over 20,000 individuals.