Question marks over festival insurance scheme

21 Oct 2021

Event organisers say they have been unable to obtain quotes for the Government's Live Events Reinsurance Scheme. 

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) Chief Executive Paul Reed confirmed cover does not stretch to festivals that cancel if capacity restrictions are reintroduced.

"The scheme only covers you in the event of a civil authority shutdown at either local or national level, so it is extremely limited in scope."

The £750m scheme also doesn't cover artists or workforces scheduled for cancelled festivals.

A recent study found 58% of AIF members are not likely to pursue quotes for the scheme.

"They [the Government] want far too much money and there are too many caveats in it," Reed added.

"I think they just keep paying us lip service like they have done all the way down the line."

Over a third of music industry jobs lost in 2020

20 Oct 2021

69,000 music jobs – one in three of the total workforce – were lost last year due to Covid-19, UK Music’s annual report into the music industry has revealed.

The industry’s economic contribution to the UK fell by 46%, largely due to the cancellation of festivals and live music events.

The report also notes that in a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many workers were not covered by income support schemes.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is calling on the Government to implement tax incentives for the industry and boost funding for music education and the self-employed.

"In a year when we’ve seen just how important music is to all our lives, it’s more important than ever that we take the necessary steps to protect, strengthen and grow the industry.

"With the right support, the UK music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery."

CMA to assess music streaming market

20 Oct 2021

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching a study into the UK’s music streaming market.

The watchdog will probe the dominance of major record labels and music streaming platforms including Spotify to assess whether artists are getting a fair deal.

Streaming now accounts for more than four-fifths of UK music consumption, according to the BPI.

CMA's annoucement follows its ongoing investigation into Sony Music’s recent merger, which raised concerns of a “a substantial lessening of competition”, and a DCMS Committee inquiry into streaming's effect on artists.

The decision was welcomed by Committee Chair Julian Knight, who has previously supported calls for an official investigation.

“Our investigation exposed fundamental problems within the structure of the music industry itself. This action marks a key step forward.”

London loses almost a quarter of nightclubs

18 Oct 2021

The number of nightclubs in London has fallen by 22% since the start of the pandemic.

Figures from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) show there are currently 198 venues operating as nightclubs across the capital - the lowest figure since the mid-90s. 

Chief Executive Michael Kill said the 16 months' of closure from March last year hit independent clubs the hardest.

“Nightclubs throughout this pandemic have been disproportionately targeted as high risk settings without substantive evidence, almost ostracised publicly. 

“The Government’s lack of understanding of this sector has led to ill-informed decision-making and businesses being marginalised or lost forever.”

Live venues await green light to reopen in Ireland

14 Oct 2021

Live entertainment is expected to fully reopen in Ireland next week despite concerns over rising Covid cases.

Capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events as well as social distancing are due to be relaxed on October 22, allowing nightclubs to reopen for the first time in over 18 months.

But Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has not ruled out the possibility of an extension: "The Delta wave swept across Europe, but you see countries in central Europe that are now yellow zones or green zones, and we’re still a red zone."

In contrast, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin believes nightclubs have been closed for "far too long".

Ireland's Institute of Public Health will meet next Monday (October 18) to advise the Government.

"We’ve got one of the highest rates of vaccination across the whole world and in Europe - I don’t know what more we as an industry can do," nightlife campaign group Give us the Night's Sunil Sharpe said.

UK strikes visa-free touring deal with Romania

12 Oct 2021

Romania has been added to the list of EU countries that UK performers can tour in sans visa.

As has become customary, DCMS concealed the actual size of the achievement, updating an August announcement to say visa-free touring is possible in 20 EU countries.

In fact, arrangements were already in place with 19 of those countries two months ago. Talks with Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus are ongoing - and in some cases have been since the UK left the EU.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said Tuesday's announcement gave "a misleading impression about the extent to which work in these countries will now be possible".

It called on Government to clarify what kinds of work are allowed for how long in each of the 20 countries.

DCMS says: "Discussions with these countries are ongoing, and we are also working with the sector to amplify each other’s lobbying efforts."

Tech enabling creativity

06 Oct 2021

One of the most powerful things to emerge during the pandemic is the importance of the arts to our wellbeing. Gilane Tawadros says the visual arts – and artists in particular - can play a critical role in post-pandemic recovery.

Aberdeen commits to digital music teaching

04 Oct 2021

Aberdeen City Council has approved plans to provide online instrumental lessons for pupils.

It first introduced digital music lessons during the pandemic, when Aberdeen City Music Service began uploading instructor videos for pupils to access between classes.

The provider says students have made "good progress" during digital lessons, prompting council officers to consult with pupils, parents and instructors to determine the scope of the offer.

The initiative will support an expected increase in the number of pupils taking lessons as Scotland becomes the first UK nation to mandate free instrumental music tuition.

"Our council has been pioneering in its use of digital technology - and there is a great opportunity to harness its power in delivering content to support those who engage with the music service," Councillor M Taqueer Malik commented.

Only 720 UK artists make a living from music streaming

30 Sep 2021

A long-awaited report into music creators' earnings estimates they receive a fifth of a penny per stream, but avoids wading into the debate about whether that's fair.

£18m Sunderland venue set to open

29 Sep 2021

Sunderland’s newest music and performance venue The Fire Station has released details of its opening programme.

Operated by Sunderland Culture, the £18m venue will open its auditorium on December 10, with events scheduled through June.

It expects to host up to 300 music and theatre events each year.

Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Chair Paul Callaghan said the auditorium will not only feature established musicians, "it will also be the springboard to stardom for our own aspiring talent".

Sunderland Culture Chief Executive Rebecca Ball said the venue will be "a fantastic addition to the city’s cultural life" and thanked the MAC Trust for leading the building project.

'Splitter vans' permitted for EU touring artists, DfT says

29 Sep 2021

British musicians touring the EU can now travel in the same vehicle as their equipment.

The Department of Transport has confirmed that so-called 'splitter vans' do not fall under the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), meaning individual EU states make their own rules.

The Musicians' Union (MU) and Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which have been lobbying for this arrangement, are delighted.

The TCA said people and equipment could not be transported in the same vehicle - "a disaster for touring musicians, particularly at grassroots level", the MU says.

National Organiser for Live Performance Dave Webster, said this is a relief and "a major step forward".

“A ban on splitter vans would have made European touring almost impossible for small to medium scale bands, especially given the costs of carnets, visas, work permits and Covid testing they are already bearing."

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said a visa waiver agreement is needed to remove the red tape.

"It’s great that on this occasion the industries’ campaigning work has paid off, but there is much more the Government should be doing."

PRS reports gender and ethnicity pay gaps

28 Sep 2021

PRS for Music has narrowed its gender pay gap but white employees earn up to 26% more than those of colour.

The collecting society has published reports on its gender and ethnicity pay gaps as it announces two new full-time posts to "provide further expertise in equality and diversity".

Its average gender pay gap has decreased from 13.5% last year to 10.6% this year. 

However, there is an average wage gap of 20% and a median gap of 26% in favour of white employees over their colleagues of colour.

This is "predominantly driven by the proportion of Black, Asian or ethnic minority background employees in lower banded roles," PRS reports

It says it has trained all hiring managers on inclusive recruiting and increase its use of recuritment agencies that specialise in diverse candidates.

"Internally, the organisation is increasing its focus on nurturing diverse talent using talent reviews and career development plans, including coaching and management development."

Council axes popular blues festival

27 Sep 2021

The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival has been cancelled by Colne Town Council due to rising costs.

Council chair, Liberal Democrat Mary Thomas, said the council "no longer has the resources" to run the festival after taking over its administration in 2017.

"It has become clear over the three years that Colne Town Council has run the festival that it has become unsustainable in its current form.

"Ticket sales for the main stages have been falling year on year. In addition, the buyers... have overwhelmingly been from an older demographic and we have been unable to attract a younger audience in enough numbers."

The town council expects to stage a new summer music festival from next year.

Awarded UK Blues Festival of the Year 2019, the event is estimated to have attracted 25,000 people to the Lancashire town that year. It has been an annual event for the past 30 years.

A petition calling for the decision to be overturned has received more than 5,000 signatures online.

£330k boost for music export scheme

23 Sep 2021

A grants programme to help UK music companies market their products and projects overseas has been given a £330,000 boost.

The Music Export Growth Scheme gives grants of £5,000 to £50,000.

The extra finance was announced this week as part of a package of measures in the Department for International Trade's (DIT) new 'Made in Britain, Sold to the World' campaign.

Museums will also benefit from new research around reaching international markets.

Minister for Exports Mike Freer said the UK's creative industries are "a force to be reckoned with" - music alone exported £519.7m last year.

DIT expects Asia to be the next big market for British cultural exports: "The region [is] set to be home to the 66% of the global middle classes by 2030, hungry for high quality British goods and services."

Abandoned church to become arts and music venue

22 Sep 2021

Ipswich Council has granted planning permission for St Clement's Church to be repurposed into an arts centre and music venue.

Planning officers said the scheme would "add significantly to the vitality and viability of the town centre".

Councillor Carole Jones added: "Everybody would wish to see this beautiful building brought back into some use for the benefit of the community."

Work is expected to begin on the Grade-II listed building, which has been vacant for more than 40 years, before the end of the year.

Planning permission was first granted in 2016 but did not move forward due to insufficient funds.

Ipswich Churches Trust confirmed funding for the first phase of work has been secured and hopes the announcement will lead to further donations.

Watchdog called to probe music labels' market dominance

22 Sep 2021

The Government has responded to a critical inquiry on streaming with a 12-month schedule of research and working groups to challenge industry practices.

When best intentions backfire?

16 Sep 2021

In trying to diversify its company, English Touring Opera shot itself - and 14 freelancers - in the foot.

Sony merger to be investigated

16 Sep 2021

A proposed merger involving music label Sony will be probed further after concerns about the deal were raised.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has referred Sony Music’s acquisition of AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights for an in-depth investigation.

The watchdog raised concerns over the merger last week, suggesting that Sony’s increased market share could worsen deals for artists.

The escalation suggests Sony did not respond to CMA’s initial findings within the five days granted.

An independent inquiry panel will now consider whether the merger has caused “a substantial lessening of competition within any market,” the CMA says.

New music publishing service for composers

14 Sep 2021

Music management companies HarrisonParrott and Polyarts have launched a new music publishing service, Birdsong.

Birdsong will work with composers to “nurture development and encourage creativity whilst protecting and exploiting copyright”.

Classical music specialists HarrisonParrott will offer a tailored publishing service for Birdsong’s roster and Polyarts will assist those working across different music genres.

Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Jasper Parrott said Birdsong’s launch was “the realisation of an ambition [HarrisonParrot] has had for many years”.

“It is exciting that this symbolically important step should chime with the urgent need to support creativity in the post-Covid music world.”

70% of shielding musicians facing financial hardship

13 Sep 2021

The music industry is urging better financial support for shielding musicians after research found 70% are facing financial hardship.

Nearly 60% said they hadn’t received any financial support during the pandemic and almost 40% say they must continue shielding beyond the end of Covid restrictions.

Musicians' Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge said shielding musicians are being “left behind with no support”.

Alongside The Ivors Academy, the union is asking the Government to extend furlough and self-employment support for shielding musicians until they can safely return to work.

“The Government must provide clearer, accessible guidance, and ensure that this group of workers can access financial support to stay safe and not be forced to choose between going to work and their health,” Trubridge added.


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