Special Feature

Musician Unions

Formation and roles of unions have always been critical in the development of the music industry world wide hence, it is not surprising to find members and non-members of musician’s unions take the union leaders to the cleaners when they perceive corruption among the them and feels that the leaders are bankrupt when it come to running of this all important office.

We have shared some information on how a few were started. Make sure you watch the videos as well. Enjoy …..


The union was founded in 1893 in Manchester by twenty musicians. It registered as the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union the following year, and grew rapidly, having 22,000 members by 1920. The following year, it merged with the National Orchestral Union of Professional Musicians and shortened its name to the “Musicians’ Union”.[2] At a high point in 1932, it had a house built, with extensive grounds and a lake, for retired musicians, Merebank House in what is now Beare Green. Sir Henry Moore and the composer Baron Frédéric Alfred d’Erlanger were among those who attended a concert in its grounds put on by the London Philharmonic Orchestra; there was also a performance there of Baron Frédéric’s opera, Tess.[citation needed] However, the introduction of “talkie(talkie a film with a soundtrack, as distinct from a silent film.)films reduced opportunities for musicians, and membership fell to a low of 7,000 in 1940. After World War II, it grew again, forming the International Federation of Musicians. It also joined the Confederation of Entertainment Unions and affiliated to the Labour Party.[3]


Our history began in 1896 when musicians gathered in Indianapolis and organized the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) for “any musician who receives pay for his musical services.” Representing 3,000 members, AFM was granted a charter by the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

Wherever there was music, there were musicians organizing in the early 20th century—in theaters, restaurants, night clubs, hotel ballrooms, amusement parks, carnivals, symphonies, operas, ballets and increasingly at theaters as accompaniment for silent films.

In 1927 the first “talkie” film was released and within two years, 20,000 musicians lost their jobs performing in theater pits for silent films. This was not the first—or the last time—that technological advances would transform musicians’ work.

Yet musicians remained strong and established minimum wage scales for vitaphone, movietone & phonograph record work. In 1938, film companies signed their first contract with AFM. Musicians continued organizing in orchestras, radio and in the making of film scores. But musicians were losing income as phonorecords replaced radio orchestras and jukeboxes competed with live music in nightclubs. In 1942, AFM members embarked on one of their biggest campaigns—a recording ban.


The national Union of Musicians in Ghana has over 4,500 members. It has been incorporated on 9th December, 1975 with registration number 8460. MUSIGA has regional offices in all the ten regions of the country. Our mission is “promoting and preserving Ghanaian culture through education and equipping the Ghanaian musician to be self reliant, creative and industrious.”

Our core duties include representing and running the organization at the administrative and financial level, Policy Making, Wages and Remuneration, Social Protection, Support for musical activities, Job opportunities, Union Rights and Freedom, Education, Intellectual Property Rights, Working Conditions and Gender Equality.

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