Third of UK musicians earn less than £14k

Two cellists performing in public
11 Sep 2023

First census of UK musicians highlights the challenges of a career in the music industry, with low earnings proving a career barrier for many and significant numbers struggling to support their families.

Over 80% of UK musicians report loss of earnings due to Brexit

07 Sep 2023

A survey suggests that 82% of UK musicians impacted by Brexit have experienced a loss of earnings, with DJs and vocalists among the worst affected.

Commissioned by UK Music, the survey questioned 1,461 musicians, vocalists, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and DJs about the challenges they have faced since the UK left the EU more than three years ago. 

The results show that 30% of music creators have seen a change in their earnings during that period. Of those whose income had been impacted, 82% said their profits had decreased, while 18% said their incomes had improved post-Brexit. 

Nearly two-fifths of those hit by Brexit said it was no longer financially viable for them to tour EU nations. 

One of the biggest problems cited by artists affected by Brexit was securing visas and work permits, with 59% of respondents considering it a significant issue. 

Other barriers to touring in the EU cited by participants included administration costs (56%), transport costs (55%), shipping and logistics (54%), production costs (34%), carnets (32%), and cabotage (13%). 

UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl said, “Restrictions on visas, work permits, truck hire and merchandise sales along with excessive red tape are making touring simply unviable for many.

“The ability to tour internationally in the early stages of an artist’s career is crucial to their success and our sector’s ambition to grow British music exports amid fierce global competition. 

“We need the Government to make it a priority to secure a Cultural Touring Agreement with the EU to remove these barriers.”

Bringing live music to Birkenhead

An image of Future Yard building
05 Sep 2023

Covid was a challenging time for live music. But that didn’t stop Future Yard, a new live music venue in Birkenhead, from opening its doors - with the help of a loan - as Director Craig Pennington tells Seva Phillips.

Schools in deprived areas get music equipment funds

Pupils at Hallsville Primary School hold their ukuleles
05 Sep 2023

Money will go to 29 schools in areas of high deprivation to provide access to musical instruments to young people facing the biggest barriers.

Two-day hearing to consider Brixton Academy future

exterior of Brixton Academy
04 Sep 2023

Met Police want Lambeth Council to revoke venue operator's licence, claiming issues that led to tragic crush incident last year are yet to be addressed.

Interest in orchestral concerts at five-year high

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
31 Aug 2023

Researchers find non-traditional programming is attracting newcomers to performances.

Gardiner withdraws from all future performances this year

31 Aug 2023

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is stepping down from all his professional engagements for the remainder of this year.

Last week, the renowned conductor pulled out of a planned performance at the BBC Proms after being accused of assaulting a singer.

In a statement issued on his behalf, Sir John, 80, said he “deeply regrets his behaviour and recognises that it has had a significant impact on colleagues for whom he has the most profound admiration and respect.”

He said: “I am taking a step back in order to get the specialist help I recognise that I have needed for some time.

“I want to apologise to colleagues who have felt badly treated and anyone who may feel let down by my decision to take time out to address my issues. I am heartbroken to have caused so much distress, and I am determined to learn from my mistakes”.  

His statement said that he intends to embark on a “period of reflection” during his break from professional engagements, focusing on his mental health and undergoing counselling. 

Sir John allegedly punched singer William Thomas after he exited the stage in the wrong direction at a concert in southern France. Following the incident, the conductor withdrew from his performance at the Festival Berlioz in La Côte-Saint-André on Wednesday night.

Impact of Brexit damaging music sector

24 Aug 2023

ISM report says difficulty and expense related to touring in the EU is impacting the viability of working musicians and is undermining the UK’s soft power.

Cardiff music venue plans redevelopment

22 Aug 2023

Cardiff’s long-running music venue Club Ifor Bach has submitted a planning application for a redevelopment project that will expand and upgrade the existing site.

The grassroots music venue, currently in its 40th year of operation, is on Womanby Street in the Welsh capital. 

The plans would see it take over the neighbouring derelict building, expanding and transforming the space into a fully-accessible multi-room venue.

Club Ifor Bach has 18 months to raise the funds needed to implement the plans, which would enable it to stage larger-scale performances and events in the new 500-capacity space. The larger venue would also house a 200-capacity room to ensure continued support for emerging musicians.

The venue registered as a charity in 2019 and these plans aim to help it meet its charitable objectives, supporting creatives including aspiring technicians, promoters, performers and photographers, as well as furthering community development.

“It’s been a long time since we released the concept designs for the redevelopment in early 2019 and finally being able to submit the planning application feels like a big step forward,” said Clwb Ifor Bach Chief Executive Guto Brychan.

“We’d like to extend our gratitude to Cardiff Council for their help in securing the premises next door, which was a key factor in progressing the plans,” he added.
  
“There is still a long road ahead especially in terms of securing sufficient funding, but we’re confident that our plans to improve Clwb Ifor Bach for the artists and audiences of the future will be a cornerstone of the city’s live music infrastructure for years to come. ”

Sheffield nightclub lobbies new council leader for support

21 Aug 2023

Sheffield's live music venue, The Leadmill, has launched a campaign to save it from closure that has resulted in more than 5,000 supporters emailing Tom Hunt, the new leader of Sheffield City Council.

Hunt, who has been in post less than three months, has yet to publicly express an opinion about the 'hostile' takeover of The Leadmill, 

The Leadmill's campaign - dubbed ‘Battle for the Soul of Sheffield’ - is calling on Hunt to back its bid to save the historic venue and has asked supporters to lobby him via email or postcard or by using the #TellTom hashtag on Twitter/X.

“This isn’t just about The Leadmill,” a spokesperson from the venue said. “Everything that’s made our city what it is today is at stake. 

“It may start with us, but it goes much further than that. If we don’t stop this hostile takeover, the very soul and character of our great city is at risk.”

The spokesperson said that the venue’s 80 staff members were “all so tired of the ongoing situation”, adding that “time and energy is being spent on trying to retain our jobs and The Leadmill”.
 
Hunt “of all people, should know that this hostile takeover risks fundamentally and forever changing the course of our city, heritage, and culture”, the person said.

PPL an 'industry forerunner' for gender and ethnicity

15 Aug 2023

The UK music licensing company PPL says latest staffing data shows it is an "industry forerunner" when it comes to diversity in the workplace.

The voluntarily released gender and ethnicity data for 2023 reveals that mean pay gaps – the average difference in pay – have decreased between April 2022 and April 2023.

The mean gender pay gap decreased to 5.4% in favour of men, from 11.7% in 2022, while the proportion of non-white staff has increased by 3% and now makes up 30% of staff.

The company said its senior team including executive directors and heads of department is 51% female.

Kate Reilly, Chief Membership and People Officer at PPL, said the company was "very proud of the work we’re doing to contribute to a fairer, more diverse industry".

She added: “Striving to become an ever more equitable and inclusive company is not only the right thing to do, but it is also good for business. PPL is stronger for better reflecting our membership and society at large.

"Over the coming years, we will further develop our diversity throughout all levels of the organisation."

BBC confirms sale of Maida Vale Studios

14 Aug 2023

The BBC has confirmed the sale of its Maida Vale recording studios.

The studios have been sold to a partnership between Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner and Hans Zimmer & Steven Kofsky.

According to a statement released by the broadcaster, the purchasers have agreed “Maida Vale’s legacy as a centre for pioneering music-making will continue, with plans to keep the original façade of the building and to preserve the ethos of Maida Vale”.

Initial plans state the building will remain as a studio space, with a multi-million pound refurbishment plan for its existing studios. 

There will also be the creation of a not-for-profit educational facility, and a long-term commitment to providing local jobs, innovation and investment.

The sale of the studios, which have been owned by the BBC since 1933, has been on the cards since 2018 when the BBC announced intention to move its music studios and performing groups to a purpose-built recording and studio space within the East Bank cultural quarter in Stratford that is scheduled to open in 2025.

“We look forward to being able to continue to deliver world-class music to BBC audiences with our new tailor-made BBC Music Studios in the wonderfully rich cultural district of London’s East Bank,” said Lorna Clarke, Director of Music at the BBC.

Commenting on the Maida Vale sale, Clarke added: “We are so pleased to secure a sale which looks to continue the bright, vibrant future of music making in this iconic building – not only providing new studio spaces but jobs and an education facility.”

PRS Foundation reopens touring initiative

14 Aug 2023

A co-commissioning and touring programme run by PRS Foundation is open for applications from organisations, music groups and composers.

The initiative, called Beyond Borders, is in partnership with the UK’s four arts councils and Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Since 2010, Beyond Borders has supported co-commissions and collaboration between musicians and music organisations across the four UK nations and since 2014, has included the Republic of Ireland.

Grants of up to £15,000 for 8 to 10 projects are available.

Applications are open until 6pm on 18 September.

Lifeline for touring artists as US suspends visa price hike

Stock photo of cheering audience at rock music concert. Audience are in front of bright stage lights and smoke.
26 Jul 2023

Music industry bodies react to the decision to delay a rise in visa costs for touring artists with cautious optimism, but warn the reprieve may be temporary.

Music education hub reforms 'immensely challenging'

brass players play musical instrument
24 Jul 2023

Leading figure in music education warns the top-down nature of planned government reforms has created 'more challenge, more crisis-management and potentially less creativity' in local areas. 

Radio 3 Controller: BBC Singers have ‘long-term future’

19 Jul 2023

Sam Jackson, Controller of BBC Radio 3, has insisted disbanding the BBC Singers is not on the broadcaster’s agenda.

In his first interview since becoming Controller in April, Jackson told The Times that the BBC does not intend to renege on its u-turn on plans to close down the professional choir.

“We are exploring some really exciting plans for the BBC Singers. We’re working on on-air plans for them right into next year. The BBC Singers have a long-term future,” Jackson said.

His comments follow claims from the Musician’s Union late last month that alternative funding models were being considered for the choir.

Speaking to the Times, Jackson confirmed discussions are confidential, but “happening at pace”.

“They are very meaningful, and I wouldn’t simply be sitting here saying that to you now if there wasn’t a lot of substance,” he added.

When asked if a new funding model could mean BBC Singers does more commercial work, Jackson replied: “there could be elements of that, but it can’t be anything that reduces the distinctiveness of who they are and what they do.”

Place music at centre of planning and licensing, report urges

Ed Sheeran performing on stage
19 Jul 2023

Industry body UK Music wants the needs of the country's music infrastructure to be central to local government decision making.

BBC Proms disrupted by Just Stop Oil protest

17 Jul 2023

Just Stop Oil protesters disrupted the opening night of the BBC Proms, setting off confetti cannons and sounding air horns before being removed from the stage.

The Independent reports that the protesters attempted to address the audience at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday (14 July), drawing boos from the crowd.

The environmental group tweeted that the action was "in response to the BBC’s underwhelming coverage of the climate emergency". 

"In recent weeks, the BBC has been accused of ‘false balance’ as well as uncritically regurgitating government and oil company propaganda."

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer tweeted: “Eco zealots shouldn’t disrupt sports events, weddings or the Proms.

“My message is this: Leave people to enjoy the events they love, and stop damaging your own cause.”

Events industry: Ensuring crowd safety 'increasingly difficult'

image of crowd at a live music event
14 Jul 2023

Concerns raised over lack of government support to improve live event safety in the wake of tragic crush at Brixton Academy, as national effort to ensure audiences are kept safe begins.

UK Music chief warns of AI threat to industry

13 Jul 2023

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has written to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer calling for reassurance that artificial intelligence (AI) firms will not be allowed to “crush the human creativity which is the beating heart and soul of our world-leading music industry”.

Njoku-Goodwin’s letter warns the rapid advance of AI poses many “difficult questions” government must urgently address.

It comes amid the growing use of AI to clone voices of musicians to create new music, creating issues around copyright and consent. UK Music and its members have put forward a five-point plan to support musicians in the face of developing AI technologies, which Njoku-Goodwin’s letter calls on the government to support.

The five principles include ensuring the creator or rights holder retains the legal rights to their creative output, and ensuring technology providers keep an auditable record of the music ingested before an algorithm generates new music.

It also suggests music generated by AI should be labelled as such, and that a new 'personality right' be created to protect the personality and image of songwriters and artists.

“As we look to unlock the potential of the creative industries, we must ensure the music industry and the tech sector grow in partnership, and the right guardrails are in place as we develop our AI sector,” Njoku-Goodwin’s letter states.

“I would be delighted to discuss this further with you or your officials and look forward to working with you to ensure the development of AI is a benefit rather than a barrier to our fantastic music industry.”

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