Ask the questions that you have always wanted to ask – the good, the bad and the ugly
Incorporated Society of Musicians
6th March 2015
Ask the questions that you have always wanted to ask – the good, the bad and the ugly

As you may have heard, the Incorporated Society of Musicians is putting on an event, Make Music Work, that will give performers or composers the rare chance to ask those searching questions that they have always wanted to ask but have been wary of doing so… such as, ‘how do I build a sustainable career? Or the scarier: ‘how can I avoid getting ripped off?’

We have heard from many musicians that there are uncertainties within the industry, thus the idea - with the view to blow off the lid of the music industry and expose the myths of making it as a professional musician – was born.

The day will comprise four panel sessions of lively, interactive debate covering four crucial subjects to inspire composers’ and performers’ confidence in building their successful careers.

Alison BalsamAfter the opening speech from keynote speaker Alison Balsom, the day will begin with panel discussion ‘The jury’s out’. If you are wondering whether taking part in competitions or schemes is a surefire way of getting ahead in your career, this panel discussion will give the chance for delegates to share their experiences of participating in competitions and schemes with Ruby Hughes (soprano/ BBC New Generation Artist 2011/2013), Benjamin Baker (YCAT Trust), Richard Morrison (The Times), Emma Bassett (Live Music Now/Westcombe Brass), Roderick Lakin (ROSLARTS), Mark Messenger (Head of Strings at RCM), Ronan O’Hora  (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) to find out if this is the case.

Are you an emerging artist? Take a look at our Funding Wizard to see what opportunities are out here and then head to our Top Tips for Funding Applications blog!

The second panel discussion, ‘Making something from nothing’, will discover the new and innovative ways that musicians are able to turn their dreams into successes and how to get ahead with little money, venue or audience but just sheer determination. The ISM’s Chief Executive Deborah Annetts, Rebecca Driver (Rebecca Driver Media Relations), Tom Hutchinson (Royal Philharmonic Society), Vanessa Reed (PRS for Music Foundation), Igor Toronyi-Lalic, (London Contemporary Music Festival), Michelle Wright (Cause 4), Clare Wilkinson (Senior Grants Manager at the Garfield Weston Foundation and former fundraising consultant) will be on hand to answer questions on how they did just that.

After conducting our annual performers’ survey last year, our results showed us that the music industry is a culture of insecurity; a jungle that musicians are trying to navigate through without tripping up. It was clear that there was a gap in the knowledge surrounding musicians’ rights, contracts, protecting intellectual property and identifying supporters from sharks. Make Music Work’s third panel discussion ‘Getting it straight’ will educate musicians on how to steer clear of legal loopholes and avoid exploitation. This is also their chance to share their horror stories with a panel of creative entrepreneurs – the ISM’s Head of Legal David Abrahams, Ivan Hewett (Telegraph), Gabriel Prokofiev (composer/Nonclassical) James Brown (Hazard Chase), Richard Paine (Faber Music) and Justin Pearson (Royal Society of Musicians) – to get the expert advice needed to navigate their way through this side of the profession.

Milton CourtThe final panel session, ‘The idea’s the thing’ will discover how performers and composers can shape their own musical path, and turn a simple idea into a career. This discussion hears from creative entrepreneurs Sara Mohr-Pietsch (BBC Radio 3), Helena Gaunt (Guildhall School of Music & Drama), John Slack (Berkeley Ensemble), Gabriella Swallow (cellist), Samantha Ward (Piano Week festival) and Toby Young (composer) who will share the experiences taken from creating their own original and successful careers.

Are you a professional musician? Our Help & Advice team are here, should you need us. 

If you would like to discover what’s behind making it as a professional musician, join us at Make Music Work at Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Milton Court in London on Tuesday 31 March. Tickets are £25/15, which includes performances from top artists Juice Vocal Ensemble, Benjamin Baker, Gabriella Swallow, Ksenija Sidorova and Westcombe Brass, networking opportunities, lunch, refreshments and an evening drinks reception.

To book your tickets for Make Music Work, visit