What is the ISM?


The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the UK’s professional body for musicians, was set up in 1882 to promote the art of music and support professional musicians. Now, over 130 years later, the ISM supports a 8,000-strong membership of teachers, performers, composers, music administrators, music technology professionals and portfolio musicians and a corporate membership spanning music organisations, professional membership bodies, music exam boards, music retailers and manufacturers, music hubs and services, universities, schools and UK conservatoires. We support our members through a range of tailored services including specialist in house legal advice, business support, guidance, research and professional development expertise, all while holding fast to our founding principles.

The ISM protects and supports its members by providing them with expert legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance, specialist services and award-winning professional development and networking events including seminars and conferences which members can attend at a discounted rate. Members also have access to hundreds of advice pages, template contracts and free downloads of our Make Music Work series of advice packs. Members are also able to promote their work by including listings in the ISM Music Directory, the UK’s only online directory of professional musicians with proven credentials, and the ISM Handbook.

The ISM has always been a wholly independent, not-for-profit organisation, which allows us to lobby Government as a united voice for music and the creative sector. We act on the information gathered from our members at grass-roots level and from the wider music, arts and education sectors by developing ground-breaking and robust campaigns.

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 four routes into membership.

  • Qualification – providing 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 – providing 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 – providing 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.
  • Membership Officer approval – if you have been working for more than two years within the music sector you can apply by speaking to our Membership Officer who will assess your eligibility.

The age-range of our membership starts at 18, and that’s the only limitation. We have members that joined the membership decades ago.

Visit https://www.ism.org/ to find out more