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UK live industry cautiously welcomes £1.57bn aid

British live music industry leaders have said they stand ready to work closely with government on the details of its £1.57 billion culture rescue fund, but cautioned that the whole live music ecosystem must be protected.

The financial aid package of emergency grants and loans must also be complemented by an exemption in VAT for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme for shows and a conditional date for reopening, they say.

Sunday’s announcement about the support package followed the hugely successful #LetTheMusicPlay day, which saw 1,500 artists write directly to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and tens of millions of fans posting online about the importance of live music, a £4.5bn sector that employs 210,000 people.

The campaign, coordinated by members of the UK Live Music Group and Concert Promoters’ Association (CPA), with additional support from UK Music, trended at No1 globally on Twitter and attracted media coverage around the world.

“Thousands of artists, venues, festivals, managers, agents, promoters and production crew came together for #LetTheMusicPlay, and we must ensure that all of them receive the support that they so desperately need,” says Phil Bowdery, chair of the CPA.

“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives”

“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives.”

Live music was one of the first industries to close as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and concerts are not expected to return in full force until well into 2021. According to member research compiled by live music associations over the six month period between October 2020 and March 2021, the operating costs of the broader live music sector will be £298.8million. This figure is in addition to the £47m required by grassroots music venues, called for by Music Venue Trust.

“The government’s £1.57bn package for the arts is welcome, but we lack detail of how funding will be allocated for music,” comments Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum. “The thousands who work and perform in our sector desperately require comprehensive support if their jobs and livelihoods are to be sustained.”

Kilimanjaro Live MD Stuart Galbraith, co-chair of the CPA, adds: “We are ready to work on the details of the scheme, and our other requests – a VAT exemption for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead, and a timeline for safe reopening without social distancing – at the government’s convenience.

“We look forward to this ongoing discussion shortly.”

 


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MMF calls for review of music managers’ role

A report published today (Friday 1 November) by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF) calls for a review of how managers are remunerated, in line with their changing roles.

The report, ‘Managing Expectations’, was previewed on Thursday evening at the BBC Music Introducing Live event at Tobacco Dock in London.

The findings are drawn from surveys with over 180 music managers and interviews conducted with ie:music’s Tim Clark (Robbie Williams), Dirty Hit’s Jamie Oborne (the 1975), Eleven Management’s Niamh Byrne (Gorillaz) and Step Management’s Ellie Giles (Bill Ryder-Jones).

The report examines how managers support talent development; their relationships with record labels; the increasing diversity of managers; the expanding skill sets required; and challenges around mental health.

In particular, the document analyses the commercial sustainability of music managers, with 26% of survey respondents working another full- or part-time job in a different section of the music business and 56% earning less than £10,000 a year from music management.

“Against a fast-moving background of complexity and diversification, the way in which most managers get paid has remained stubbornly rigid,” writes MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick, “with the vast majority reliant on commission-based earnings – and typically of 20%.

“Against a fast-moving background of complexity and diversification, the way in which most managers get paid has remained stubbornly rigid”

“This is increasingly unsustainable, and with so many upcoming managers not making any money at all, we run the risk of losing many of these talented professionals altogether.”

The report outlines access to financing, support for mental health provision, diversification of skills, transparency of income streams and new commercial models as the five main barriers that “may prevent music managers and their clients from reaching their potential.”

“The goal of this report is to better explain what a modern day music manager actually does and enhance understanding of how this has changed in the digital age,” comments Coldrick.

“We will use the findings to better advocate for our members’ interests and expand our activity on the critical areas identified and to initiate discussions with our clients and partners on new business models in management.”

As a step to alleviating the challenges highlighted in the report, the MMF this year launched the Accelerator Programme for Music Managers, which has so far supported 24 managers. The beneficiaries of the 2020 programme will be announced soon.

The full report can be read here.

 


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FanFair Alliance launches guide to tackle touting

FanFair Alliance, the music industry campaign established in 2016 to tackle “industrial-scale online ticket touting”, has today (Tuesday 17 September) published new guidance to help artists and managers to tackle secondary ticketing.

The guidance, which was developed alongside new model terms and conditions published by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and is backed by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF), can be downloaded here.

The guide advocates that artists, event organisers and venues make two clear and upfront statements in their terms and conditions of sale – that tickets are for consumers only to purchase, and that audiences are permitted to resell tickets for the price they paid or less, and that a consumer-friendly resale or reallocation mechanism is provided.

The alliance hopes that the cost-free measures will empower artists and organisers to employ a wider range of acts to prevent exploitation of fans, while promoting fairer ticket resale practices.

The publication follows major developments in the fight against the UK’s secondary ticketing market, including the provision of detailed information about the tickets listed on secondary sites – in keeping with consumer protection law – an end to misleading marketing practices such as “drip pricing” and the suspension of infamous secondary site Viagogo from Google search advertising.

The introduction of “consumer friendly” resale services, including AXS Official Resale, Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange, See Ticket’s Fan-to-Fan and CTS Eventim’s FanSALE, has also given fans alternative resale options.

According to STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown, the use of such authorised resale systems “helps to combat unwanted excesses in the secondary ticket market.”

“As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that [artists] will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market”

Despite developments, YouGov data, viewed by FanFair Alliance, suggests online ticket touting remains a concern for live music fans, with 79% of concertgoers surveyed in April 2019 stating that “too many tickets end up on reselling sites for inflated prices” and 67% affirming that artists “should do more” to prevent this practice.

A recent decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to halt legal actions against Viagogo prompted further concerns from anti-tout groups and live industry professionals.

“The message from audiences remains pretty clear and consistent,” says FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb, who recently aired his thoughts on the continued need for action against Viagogo in IQ. “They’re still sick of exploitative online ticket touts, and they expect artists, event organisers and venues to do something about it.

“And here’s the good news: they can. The UK is now leading the way in the fightback against unscrupulous secondary ticketing practices. Artists have been empowered to take action.

“There’s a number of strategies they can pursue, but the no-cost recommendations in this guidance are open to all. As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that they will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market.”

MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick agrees, stating that “artists and their teams now have real power to take back control of their ticket prices by using simple T&Cs and offering consumer-friendly resale to fans,” urging “all managers to read this guide and use it.”

The full guide can be read online for free here.

 


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