Returning to live performances

ICMP alumn Sam Flower breaks down exactly what you’ll need to consider so that you can get back to gigging...


As COVID-19 restrictions are eased and venues begin to reopen, the ISM – the UK’s professional body for musicians - is helping studying musicians return to live performing both safely and confidently...

ISM Membership & Marketing Officer and ICMP alumn Sam Flower breaks down exactly what you’ll need to consider so that you can get back to gigging.

Understanding COVID-19 restrictions

Keeping up with what musical activities are permitted under ever-changing government guidance can be challenging to say the least. Ever since the pandemic first began to impact the UK’s musicians, the ISM has been keeping the whole music industry informed through our dedicated COVID-19 advice hub. Whatever music-related work you do alongside your studies, make sure you are up to date by checking our advice.

From 17 May 2021, Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown permits indoor performing arts spaces in England to reopen, including grassroots music venues, subject to certain conditions. This means that for many, in-person gigs can resume.

Resuming rehearsals

After being unable to perform for so long, rehearsals are more important than ever.

At the time of writing, COVID-19 restrictions allow rehearsals for paid work to take place across the UK. This is subject to the rehearsal room’s risk assessment and may require additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and screens, and social distancing measures. It’s important to check what’s required from you with your chosen rehearsal space.

If you are looking for somewhere new to rehearse, ISM student members can access discounted rates on rehearsal spaces (and recording studios) across the UK, including The Park Studios, Wembley.


Protecting yourself and your equipment

Having the correct insurance cover in place is vital. This ensures that both you and your equipment are protected should any incidents occur.

Many venues insist that you have Public Liability Insurance (PLI) as a condition of hire. This cover means that if you were to cause an injury to a member of the public or damage someone else’s property, a claim can be made on your insurance rather than the venue’s.

All ISM student members are protected by our Public Liability Insurance, with cover up to £10m. This protects you for any music-related work or studies that you do, including any live performance workshops at ICMP. As well as protecting yourself, it's important to ensure that your instruments and equipment are also covered. As musicians, we invest thousands of pounds on our gear, and it's crucial to protect that investment now that we’re able to resume in-person performances.

ISM student members can access discounted instrument and equipment insurance with several major suppliers, allowing you to tailor your cover to suit your exact needs.

The importance of contracts

A written contract is the best way to ensure that you get paid and that both you and your clients know what is expected from any work you do, particularly from live performances.

Many musicians rely on verbal contracts which can be difficult to enforce. Others may rely on email threads as a form of contract; this is better than nothing, but a properly-worded written contract provides far stronger protection for all parties and helps everyone to understand their obligations and to know their rights in the event of any dispute.


It is essential that contracts are clear and avoid using unenforceable terms. To help with this, ISM student members can access a template performance contract, drafted by our specialist in-house legal team, Student members can also submit contracts to our team for review. Find out more about our legal team.

In our recent blog Returning to Work: Weddings, ISM Advice & Information Officer, Anna Wynne, goes into greater detail about what to consider when entering into a contract ahead of a performance, and how the terms may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Looking after your hearing and general wellbeing

After being unable to rehearse or perform for so long, your hearing is more vulnerable to damage from loud rehearsal rooms and venues. To help you minimise the risk of damaging your hearing, we provide ISM student members with access to discounted hearing services including custom hearing protection, in-ear monitors, and hearing health checks.

Your hearing is one of your most valuable tools as a musician, and you need to look after it, just as you would your equipment.

Furthermore, life as a music student can be tough at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. With the easing of restrictions, any feelings of anxiety are completely understandable and it’s important to know that you are not alone.

If you have concerns about the return of gigs or any other topic, ISM student members can access a range of tailored wellbeing services through our sister charity, the ISM Members Fund. This includes a 24-hour personal support and advice helpline and structured face-to-face counselling.


ISM membership as an ICMP student or alumn

The ISM is the UK's professional body for musicians providing thousands of artists with essential advice, insurances, legal help and more.

Becoming an ISM student member will ensure you have the full backing and support of the UK’s professional body for musicians. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation here to protect you whilst you study and prepare you for a career as a professional musician.

Student members can access our complete range of membership benefits including expert legal representation, professional insurance cover, industry advice, wellbeing support, networking opportunities, exclusive discounts, and much more.

You can join today for just £15 a year as a student. If instead, you’ve graduated within the last 10 years, you can become an early-career member for just £50 a year – that’s less than £1 a week.



If you have any questions, you can contact Sam Flowers.

Become a well-rounded and employable musician

At ICMP, we take your career in music as seriously as you do. Our pioneering music degree courses see you tackle advanced technical and performance challenges, and learn innovative skills to get you ahead and prepare you for your musical future.

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, email our friendly Admissions Team at or call them on 020 7328 0222.

BMus Popular Music Performance
by ICMP staff writer
June 3, 2021
Back to Blog Home