The power of music to connect

Image ofSarah Derbyshire
02 May 2023

In a career spanning over 25 years, Sarah Derbyshire's commitment to the power of music to change lives and support communities has remained a guiding principle.

Petition to prevent Brixton Academy closure tops 50,000

02 May 2023

A petition to save the O2 Academy Brixton from permanent closure has topped 50,000 signatures. 

The venue’s licence was suspended after two people died during a crush outside the building ahead of a performance by singer Asake in December last year. Eight others were hospitalised.

The petition was started after the Met Police said it was seeking for the licence to be permanently revoked.

Created by Stuart O’Brien and directed to Lambeth Council, it said that the venue’s closure would result in “another part of the musical landscape and history” being “lost forever”.

It suggested means of ensuring that the tragedy wasn’t repeated, including revoking the security firm’s licence and bringing in security recommended by police.

The petition has been supported by musicians and bands including The Chemical Brothers and Garbage, the BBC reported.

“Brixton Academy is such an important and historic venue for south London and live music,” tweeted Primal Scream's bassist Simone Butler. “There is a police station literally opposite, surely with new management / infrastructure + security it can be improved? Instead of just shutting it down?”

The licence application is currently in a consultation period, after which a decision will be made at a council sub-committee.

In the weeks following the crush, concerns had been raised over the strength of the venue’s doors, as well as staffing levels.

The medical cover provider confirmed recently that no paramedics or nurses were present and only five people were working when the crush occurred.

Industry guidelines recommend twice the number of medical staff, including a paramedic and a nurse.

Academy Music Group (AMG), which runs the venue, said that it had co-operated fully with the police and Lambeth Council and had presented “detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely”.

The group is currently awaiting feedback on its proposals, it added.
 

PRS for Music reports record royalties collections

02 May 2023

Rights management organisation PRS for Music collected a record £946m in royalties in 2022.

The result is equivalent to a 22.9% year-on-year increase and a 18.9% increase on its previous high of £810m, achieved in 2019.

The organisation paid out £836.2m in royalties in 2022, a 23.5% increase on the year prior.

Its quarterly distribution in October was in excess of £211m, the largest single distribution in the organisation’s 108-year history.

PRS for Music said the results indicate a “dramatic recovery following the global pandemic”.

CEO Andrea Czapary Martin added the organisation is “accelerating progress towards and beyond” a vision of paying out over £1 billion in royalties within the next five years.

“Through our ambitious licencing strategy and utilising our joint ventures we have maximised the value of members works at every opportunity,” Czapary Martin said.

“While our investment in new technologies and services means we can pay out royalties more quickly and accurately, delivering the best possible service to members at a market leading low cost-to-income ratio.”

Most artists make a loss on music releases, research finds

02 May 2023

Most independent artists who promote their own music releases make a loss, according to new research.  

The research by Pirate.com, a global music studio hosting 350,000 artists worldwide, found that 75% of musicians who spend money on promoting releases don't make it back. 

Over 1,000 live musicians, producers, rappers and MCs from the UK and US were asked how they promote their music.

Of these, 91% said they did so without the support of a label or manager.

Of the musicians surveyed 54% said they use social media for self-promotion, with 56% of these using it everyday.

The research highlights the increasing need for musicians to create additional, visual content in order to promote their work.

More than half (56%) of music creators said they will make visuals for their next release.

Dan Davis, Head of Community at Pirate.com, said: "Making music in the social media age means constantly jumping on new promotional trends.

"However, making content is rarely free and new revenue sources for artists aren’t emerging at the same rate as new trends."

Music concert ticket scams soar by over 500%

28 Apr 2023

Music ticket fraud increased by 529% last year, with the average victim losing £110.

The findings come from a study by Lloyds Bank, which also found scams targeting comedy and theatre tickets are on the rise, albeit by smaller amounts.

Scammers are targeting concerts and festivals where tickets are scarce or sold out more often, with scams involving fake websites, emails and social media posts increasingly prevalent.

Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Direction at Lloyds, said audiences should always buy tickets from reputable platforms, and pay by debit or credit card to give the greatest level of protection.

“With demand to attend live events soaring as the warmer weather approaches, they will waste no time in targeting music fans as they rush to pick up tickets for the most popular gigs and festivals.”

Brixton Academy facing indefinite closure

27 Apr 2023

The Metropolitan Police has urged Lambeth Council to revoke Brixton 02 Academy’s licence permanently following a crush which killed two people in December.

The venue has been closed since the incident while an investigation is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Met said the police force has now “lost confidence” in the venue’s owners, Academy Music Group (AMG), and therefore submitted an application to the council for the licence to be revoked.

Meanwhile, AMG has submitted its own application for a variation of their existing licence, which would allow the venue to stay open if approved.

Lambeth Council has said it will consider both applications in due course.

A decision from the council on whether or not to close the venue could come as early as its next sub-committee hearing, which is currently scheduled for 15 May.

Heavy metal festival cancelled with just 5% of tickets sold

25 Apr 2023

A three-day heavy metal festival has been cancelled with just weeks to go after selling only 5% of available tickets.

The 5,000-capacity Dominion Festival was due to take place on 5-7 May at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, in County Durham.

The planned line-up included the bands Skindred, Blind Guardian and Orange Goblin.

Rescheduled from its original launch date in July last year, organisers Wannasee Promotions said that to go ahead would have led to losses of more than £250,000.

A statement from the promoter said: “The only ethical decision that could possibly be made now is to accept defeat, gut wrenching though this is."

Wannasee added that to go ahead "would risk us joining the pile of promoters who have failed to refund customers after using ticket money to fund a failed show, or not paid bands or suppliers for the show – neither of which is something that we could entertain.”

Eurovision has brought me out in a cold sweat

Eurovision banners on Liverpool's St George's Hall
25 Apr 2023

Europe, Eurovision, pressure-selling, ticket queues and… Candide?  Robin Cantrill-Fenwick examines what goes wrong when tickets go on sale for popular events.

New skills programme for music managers in Wales

25 Apr 2023

A new programme of education and training for music entrepreneurs in Wales has been given Welsh Government support.

The one-year project delivered by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) hopes to boost the business skills of Welsh music managers.

Funded through Creative Wales, MMF will be working with Welsh partners including music industry organisations Anthem, Beacons and Focus Wales.

The initiative will also build on MMF’s existing partnership with the University of South Wales.

Activities will include a course on the essentials of music management, with training led by Lu Whitting, manager of the Cardiff band Himalayas.

Travel bursaries will be available to attend events and the MMF is keen that individuals from ‘diverse or marginalised backgrounds’ take part in the programme.

MMF Chief Executive, Annabella Coldrick, said: “The music scene in Wales has always been hugely exciting, and we believe this new programme will strengthen networks and benefit both existing Welsh managers and those looking to break into our profession."

Prominent role for BBC Singers at the Proms

25 Apr 2023

The choir will feature in the opening and closing concerts this year, although concerns remain that plans to axe the group could be reinstated after the festival.

Concert for musicians in need hit by copyright charges

25 Apr 2023

A London charity concert for musicians in need has been hit by a copyright claim from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

The event held at Cadogan Hall on 1 April was in aid of Help Musicians and starred Dame Evelyn Glennie and BBC Radio 4 announcer Zeb Soanes.

While it mostly consisted of humorous arrangements of out-of-copyright classical pieces, PRS is charging the organisers more than £1,000 for two short pieces by Earl Okin that are still in copyright.

The royalties would amount to nearly half of the charitable earnings from the night. 

The event's organiser, Rainer Hersch, said the move by PRS was “pretty shocking, especially given this concert and the beneficiary, Help Musicians, which is the backstop for freelance musicians in this country”.

Okin, meanwhile, said he does not want the money and that he will donate it to the charity if he receives it.

A PRS spokesperson said: “We are working with the composers whose works were included in the 1 April concert at Cadogan Hall to ensure that they can identify all earnings from this concert.

“From our experience, this makes onward donation simpler for all involved.

“PRS for Music works closely with Help Musicians, including recently co-ordinating efforts to support music creators through the pandemic."

ACE seeks 'urgent' talks on future of Bristol Beacon

The exterior of Bristol Beacon
20 Apr 2023

Concerns raised about the future of trust operating Bristol Beacon, as soaring refurbishment costs prompt the city's council to explore 'alternative delivery models' in order to make back some of its investment.

EXCLUSIVE: Guildhall settles legal case with acclaimed conductor

20 Apr 2023

An employment tribunal was due to consider claims relating to unfair dismissal, breach of contract and protections under whistleblowing legislation next week.

Plymouth music festival cancelled due to financial pressures

18 Apr 2023

The 1 Big Summer Festival in Plymouth will not go ahead this year due to the cost-of-living crisis, organisers have announced.

The festival was due to be held in Hoe on 25-26 August, but financial pressures for both organisers and visitors have been cited as the reason for its cancellation, the BBC reported.

“A perfect storm of rising costs, reduction in sponsorship income, an end of support for tourism and hospitality such as VAT reductions, and an unprecedented strain on people's disposable income have sadly left the event untenable for this year,” organisers said in a statement.

People who have already purchased tickets will be refunded within 21 days.

BBC to explore alternatives to proposed orchestra cuts

The BBC Symphony Orchestra
15 Apr 2023

Broadcaster agrees to explore alternatives to proposed 20% cut to roles at the BBC Symphony, Concert and Philharmonic orchestras.

BBC ringfences redundancy money for musicians

12 Apr 2023

The BBC has set aside redundancy pay for musicians who are expected to be laid off from BBC orchestras and the BBC Singers.

The classical music news site Slipped Disc reports that Simon Webb, the BBC's Director of Orchestras, informed an internal BBC meeting that the redundancy money has been ringfenced in next year's budget.

Webb said the money was already signed off and that it was a "one-off cost ... from a different part of the BBC".

Slipped Disc's Norman Lebrecht also reports that Webb said there there was not enough commercial work to fulfil BBC Director General Tim Davie’s plan of external funding for the orchestras.

The Musicians' Union is currently in negotiations with the BBC regarding the future of BBC Performing Groups.

Last month, the corporation announced proposals to cut employed posts across BBC Singers and three orchestras. 

Brixton Academy remains closed for health and safety review

12 Apr 2023

The O2 Academy Brixton is to remain closed while it undergoes a 'thorough' health and safety review by Lambeth Council.

The South London music venue, operated by the Academy Music Group, has been closed since 15 December following a crowd crush which left two people dead and a third person in a critical condition.

The council has appointed Paul Martin, a former CEO of multiple councils, to independently lead the health and safety investigation.

Martin will be acting under Regulation 3 and Schedule 1 of the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998.

Lambeth Council’s Chief Executive Bayo Dosunmu said: “We are very mindful of the profound impact this incident has had on many people who were present at the O2 Academy on that night and on the family and loved ones of the two people who tragically lost their lives that evening, and the person that remains in a critical condition.

“In order that Lambeth Council rigorously and independently investigates what happened on that evening, I have asked one of London’s most experienced former chief executives to lead on the health and safety investigation on behalf of the council, working closely with the Metropolitan police."

German punk band refused entry to UK in post-Brexit 'nightmare'

11 Apr 2023

A punk band from Germany claim they were refused entry to the UK for a seven-date UK tour due to confusing post-Brexit rules.

Trigger Cut, a three-piece band from Stuttgart, said they were turned away by the UK Border Force at Calais on last Thursday (6 April).

After having their passports confiscated, they were asked for a certificate of sponsorship (COS) from each of the venues they were due to play at.

They did not have the certificates and planned instead to enter under the permitted paid engagement (PPE) exemption.

Writing on Facebook, Ralph Schaarschmidt, the band's guitarist, said: “Months of planning, 1,750km of driving to Calais and back to Stuttgart, van hire costs, paid-for expensive customs declarations, ferry ticket – all for nothing.

"We are sitting in a deep dark hole emotionally right now, this is a nightmare … I’ve never felt so degrad[ed], sad and bad as I do today.”

Music agent Ian Smith, who campaigns to help artists work in the EU and UK, said artists are often refused entry to the UK from the EU because of post-Brexit requirements.

He said: “They are so bloody opaque and confusing.” 

A government spokesperson said musicians and performers are a "valued and important part of UK culture [which is why] we offer a dedicated immigration route for creative workers".

“All visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the immigration rules."

ACE reaffirms support for grassroots music

empty grassroots music venue
11 Apr 2023

The funder extends National Lottery Project Grants tailored to live music and pledges £500,000 to Music Venue Trust’s new venue ownership scheme.

Access a priority for Scottish youth music funding

11 Apr 2023

More than 60 youth music projects in Scotland have received funding in a bid to 'drive inclusivity and tackle social issues'.

Nearly £1.7m has been provided to 63 community music projects through the Scottish Government-backed Youth Music Initiative (YMI).

The funding is administered by Creative Scotland.

Most of the funded projects – 58 in total – received awards through the Access to Music Making stream, aimed at young people who face 'opportunity barriers'.

The remainder were funded via Strengthening Youth Music. This supports individuals, organisations and networks which undertake 'strategic action' to promote the country's youth music sector.

Morag Macdonald, YMI Manager at Creative Scotland, said the funding was "supporting an incredibly diverse array of projects that will create meaningful opportunities for children and young people to take part in music activities right across the country".

Now in its 20th year, projects funded by YMI in this latest round include Paisley-based Kibble Education and Care Centre, Music Space in Glasgow – a new initiative produced by AC Projects, the organisation behind the city's Counterflows festival – and Angie's Project in Edinburgh, which focuses on electronic music production education.

YMI's flagship funded projects include the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, Highlands-based Fèis Rois and Lothian’s A.R.T.S Afternoon. 

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