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Post-election: A reflection on America’s future

As the United States approaches yet another critical election, the potential for civil unrest looms large regardless of whether the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, or the Democratic incumbent, Joe Biden, secures victory. The nation’s current political climate, characterised by intense polarisation and deep-seated mistrust, provides fertile ground for significant disturbances post-election.

The precedent set by the Jan 6th insurrection could evolve into a wider issue even if incarceration doesn’t become a reality for the former POTUS Donald Trump. Understanding the likelihood and potential spread of such unrest, as well as its implications for public life and events, is crucial for anticipating and preparing for the days ahead.

Polarisation and its consequences

The American political landscape has grown increasingly fractured over the past few years. Social media, partisan news outlets, and political rhetoric have all contributed to a society where ideological divides run deep. In this context, the outcome of the 2024 presidential election could act as a catalyst for widespread civil disturbance.

If Donald Trump wins, his supporters may feel vindicated, but those who oppose him – many of whom view his presidency as a threat to democracy – might resort to protests and civil disobedience. Conversely, a Joe Biden victory could provoke Trump loyalists, who might perceive the result as illegitimate yet again, especially in light of debunked claims around election integrity.

Likelihood of riots and civil disturbance

The potential for riots and civil disturbances following the election is high. Historically, the US has witnessed significant unrest in response to contentious political events, such as the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the January 6 Capitol riot. These events underscore the capacity for rapid mobilisation and the eruption of violence. There is even the prospect, with a Trump win, of martial law.

Major cities like Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are likely epicentres for demonstrations. However, the spread of unrest could extend far beyond these urban centres. The proliferation of social media allows for the rapid dissemination of calls to action, enabling protests and disturbances to spring up in smaller towns and rural areas nationwide.

“Event organisers may face increased pressure to enhance security measures, potentially resulting in higher costs and logistical hurdles”

Implications for mass public gatherings

The prospect of widespread unrest poses significant challenges for mass public gatherings, including concerts and other large-scale events. Event organisers may face increased pressure to enhance security measures, potentially resulting in higher costs and logistical hurdles. Moreover, the fear of violence could deter attendees, leading to lower turnout and financial losses for the entertainment industry.

In addition to heightened security concerns, local governments may impose restrictions or outright bans on large gatherings to prevent potential flashpoints for unrest. This could lead to cancellations or postponements of concerts, sports events, and other public gatherings, impacting not only the entertainment sector but also the broader economy.

Preparing for the future

Given the high stakes of the upcoming election and the potential for significant civil unrest, it is imperative that local and federal authorities, as well as private organisations, prepare accordingly. This includes bolstering security protocols, facilitating dialogue between opposing groups to reduce tensions, and ensuring that law enforcement is prepared to handle potential disturbances with a focus on de-escalation and protecting civil liberties.

In the long term, addressing the root causes of political and social discontent – such as economic inequality, racial injustice, and the erosion of trust in institutions—will be essential to mitigating the risk of future unrest. In the immediate term, the entertainment industry should reckon with a clear need to get ahead of these issues and investigate the possibility of transferring the risk of business interruption and event cancellation to the insurance industry. Another route of course is to deal with the appendices in contracts with agents, venues and promoters contracts with a risk management lens. Taking advice on this should fall to brokers in the space with a special understanding of the market and the issues.

Conclusion

The likelihood of riots, civil disturbance, and unrest in the US following the 2024 presidential election is significant, regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden emerges victorious. The potential for such unrest to spread across the country, affecting not just the nation’s capital but also smaller communities, is real and warrants serious consideration. For mass public gatherings, including concerts, this climate of uncertainty necessitates enhanced security and contingency planning. Reviewing business insurance arrangements and contractual force majeure clauses and appendices is essential. As America stands at this crossroads, the actions taken today will shape the ability of the public entertainment industries ability to navigate the challenges of tomorrow.

Matthew Meredith is CEO of LMP Group Entertainment Insurance

 


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Australian orgs welcome $34m live music pledge

Australian music organisations have welcomed a pledge by the Victorian government to invest A$34 million in the state’s live music sector.

Premier Daniel Andrews, who is seeking a third term, and minister for creative industries Steve Dimopoulos have also promised cash to support 10,000 concerts over the next four years and $1,000 grants for artists if Labor prevail in this weekend’s state election.

The commitment also includes  $2.5m for a Live Music Major Events Fund, providing grants of up to $50,000 for festivals across the state, plus $2.4m for music industry charity Support Act to assist Victorian artists, managers, crew and music workers who face challenges with their mental health.

“We greatly appreciate this election commitment from the Victorian government,” says Support Act CEO Clive Miller. “If realised, it will have an enormous impact for our programs in Victoria, and help us to help the industry build back better after the disruptions of the past few years.

“We know from our own research that people working in music have elevated levels of psychological distress, suicide ideation, anxiety and depression, and that our prevention, education and training programs have real impact, as they are designed and delivered by people who work in music and have lived experience.”

“It will go a long way to helping the music industry get back on its feet and share great music with Victorians”

Miller adds that Support Act’s remit had increased significantly over the past few years, and that he hopes other governments – and the Victorian opposition – are also factoring Support Act into their upcoming budget planning.

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) has also backed the move.

“The Victorian music community was hit hard by extended lockdowns leading to live performance cancellations, and now face the challenges of reopening with rising costs, skills shortages and poor consumer confidence,” it says.

“This commitment addresses a range of aspects in the music ecosystem including live music, festivals, education and importantly the mental health toll on our community. It will go a long way to helping the music industry get back on its feet and share great music with Victorians.”

 


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US election: Venues turn into polling stations

Live Nation has announced plans to use more than 100 of its US venues as polling stations for the American presidential election on 3 November.

The concert giant says it is working with local authorities to examine the feasibility of using Live Nation-owned venues across the country as polling centres, with the Wiltern (1,850-cap.) and Hollywood Palladium (3,800-cap.) in Los Angeles, Emo’s (1,700-cap.) in Austin, Texas, and the Buckhead Theatre (1,800-cap.) in Atlanta already confirmed.

The Fillmore (2,500-cap.) in Philadelphia is in the “final stages of the vetting process”, it adds.

“Core to what we do at Live Nation is helping amplify voices on stage around the world, and supporting voting is another important way we want to continue making voices heard,” comments LN CEO Michael Rapino. “We’re honoured to work with such incredible partners and will do everything in our power to support and empower voter engagement among our employees and the public.”

The LN properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas

The company has also partnered with More Than a Vote, a non-profit organisation supporting black voters, and announced it will give its employees paid time off to vote.

The Live Nation properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas. They include Madison Square Garden in New York, the Los Angeles Forum, State Farm Arena in Atlanta and Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to make mass gatherings difficult, we are excited to partner with New York City’s board of elections,” says Madison Square Garden’s Rich Constable, “and support our community by providing a large-scale venue in the heart of New York City that can accommodate social distancing and serve as a safe place for residents to exercise their right to vote.”

The US presidential election will be held on Tuesday 3 November 2020, pitting incumbent president Donald Trump against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Slovak pubs to host anti-fascist festival

Nearly 100 bars across Slovakia will next month welcome more than 140 acts for Slovenská krčma (‘Slovak Pubs’), an ‘anti-fascist’ festival organised in protest against growing support for far-right politics.

Beginning on Monday 4 and running until Sunday 16 February, Slovenská krčma will feature domestic stars such as Billy Barman, Para, Rozpor, Vec & Škrupo + Tono, Bez ladu a skladu, Modré Hory and Komajota, as well as emerging acts from a variety of genres.

The venues, meanwhile, include ‘proper’ pubs as well as cafés and clubs, in cities and towns including Bratislava, Hurbanovo, Námestovo, Trebišov and Hostovice, near the north-eastern border.

The latest opinion polling for shows the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer–SD) party with a narrow lead (-6%) over the ultranationalist, anti-gypsy People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) – with many fearing that concerns over corruption could lead to a shock victory for the far right at Slovakia’s next parliamentary elections on 29 February 2020.

“Pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views”

Meanwhile, Smer–SD’s leader, ousted ex-prime minister Robert Fico, is being investigated by police for supporting Milan Mazurek, an LSNS member of parliament fined and expelled for making racist statements, stating that Mazurek’s views reflect those of the average pub-going Slovak. Mazurek had said that “gypsy anti-socials have never done anything for the nation and never will” and compared gypsy (Roma) children to “animals in the zoo”.

In a statement, the event’s organisers, who are also the brains behind the country’s biggest music festival, Pohoda, say: “We believe that most of the pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views. It was people who go to pubs that Robert Fico referred to when he said after Mazurek’s conviction: ‘If the Supreme Court’s verdict is to be a measure of what is a criminal offence regarding statements on Roma, police might as well enter any pub in Slovakia and lock up all the customers, including dogs lying on the ground.’

“We do not agree with the division of citizens into a café society and a pub society. We frequent both and we meet great people in pubs as well as in cafés. To show that Slovakia is not a racist country, we are organising the Slovak Pub festival.”

For more information about the festival, visit the Slovenská krčma website.

 


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UK associations respond to election results

The major UK music industry associations have given their verdict on yesterday (13 December)’s general election, which saw the Conservative party under Boris Johnson win the largest majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

Johnson’s victory also ends the deadlock in parliament over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, with ‘Brexit’ now almost certain to go ahead as planned on 31 January 2020.

Michael Dugher, the outgoing CEO of umbrella organisation UK Music, congratulates the new government on its victory and outlines his key music-industry concerns ahead of Johnson outlining his legislative agenda.

“Congratulations to the newly elected government. Hopefully this will now deliver the stability we need to get things done, including a new and comprehensive strategy to support music,” says Dugher.

“It is vital that the Prime Minister makes securing a trade deal with the EU a top priority. That deal needs to ensure that artists, creators and everyone involved with the UK music industry can move around the EU to do their jobs. It must also make sure that we have a legal framework to make the UK the world’s best place to make content. Copyright should be protected and enhanced in any new trade deals. […]

“Ministers also need to make good on their pledge to help protect small music venues by delivering on their pre-election promises to cut the soaring business rates bills faced by so many venues.

“Ministers need to make good on their pledge to help protect small music venues”

“We look forward to the speedy appointment of a new secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We desperately need some continuity in that post and UK Music stand ready to work with them to ensure our world-leading music industry goes from strength to strength”.

The Creative Industries Federation, which represents the UK’s creative-industry businesses, says it will also “continue to work tirelessly” alongside the incoming government “to ensure that they act on the areas that matter most to the UK’s creative industries and our country’s emerging talent.”

On the Conservative party specifically, Alan Bishop, the federation’s chief executive, similarly notes that its manifesto includes promises to introduce “business rates relief for music venues and cinemas”, as well as to continue to support for existing creative-sector tax reliefs. “We look forward to working with government on these commitments, ensuring that industry is able to shape these initiatives so that they develop in the right way for the creative industries,” he says.

In the recorded music sector, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) emphasises that the UK must maintain its commitment to protecting music copyrights when it leaves the EU on 31 January.

“The UK has a strong copyright regime. It is essential that this remains stable and the framework is not reopened in the event of the UK leaving the European Union,” reads a statement from the organisation. “The UK should bring forward measures to resolve the value gap in the UK and should ensure that the UK regime is an environment that will encourage investment in new recordings. […]

“It is essential that trade deals maintain a strong copyright regime”

“If any trade agreements follow as a result of the future arrangements between the UK and the EU, it is essential that trade deals maintain a strong copyright regime. It is critical to resist ‘fair use’ rules such as those found in the USA.”

The BPI also calls on the new government to commit to “reciprocal arrangements [with the EU countries] on visa-free travel, including for work purposes, [which] would ensure musicians will be able to work, tour and collaborate across the EU.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, which represents the UK’s record label community, and the Brit Awards, welcomes the new Johnson ministry, says he looks forward to working with ministers on music industry related issues.

“This clear result should help move the country beyond the Brexit impasse and provide the UK with a much-needed period of political stability,” he comments. “We hope the government will use this platform to deliver a trade deal with the EU that minimises barriers to trade, including simple travel arrangements for UK performers, and new trade deals with third countries to boost our music exports.

“The UK music industry is a fantastic success story both here at home and around the world. If the relentless creativity and commercial ingenuity of our artists and labels can be backed by the incoming government with some simple but effective support, we can take this success to the next level, growing our international trade, supporting access to music in schools, and boosting the industry’s contribution to employment and the economy by better protecting the valuable IP we create.

“We congratulate the new administration and we will be actively engaging with them on this agenda.”

“We urge the incoming government to listen to the music sector”

Paul Pacifico, of indie label body the Association of Independent Music (AIM), says the Conservatives’ “strong majority” presents the opportunity for a “fresh start” as Britain prepares for its EU exit. “We know from this result that the process towards Brexit will now accelerate,” he explains. “It is AIM’s priority to ensure our members are as prepared as possible. The unfortunate truth is that the grassroots SMEs and entrepreneurs of our economy face the greatest impact [from Brexit] on their businesses, so we call on this new government to give our members the support they need to ensure we avoid a Brexit that just suits big business.

“With a strong majority and the opportunity for a fresh start, we look forward to engaging with the new government across our key issues for creative entrepreneurs in music, including copyright and support mechanisms for small business in our sector, which is so important to the UK both in terms of commerce and culture.”

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), draws attention to the associations pre-election ‘Manifesto for Musicians’, which said the UK must strike a deal with Europe “which will protect every aspect of the musician’s working life post-Brexit”.

“This,” she says, “includes everything from a two-year, multi-entry visa, to ensuring that musicians can take their instruments easily across the channel to work in the EU.”

As only reported this month, the music industry is continuing to grow and is now worth £5.2bn,” Annetts adds. “We urge the incoming government to listen to the music sector and ensure the future of this prosperous industry is protected.”

 


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UK biz watches the markets as election looms

As millions across the UK post their vote in today’s (12 December) general election, financial technology firm Centtrip, which works with over 500 clients in the music industry, has predicted how currency markets may react to different electoral outcomes.

The election, which is being dubbed the “most important poll in a generation” by some commentators, is the third of its kind in less than five years.

According to Centtrip, the pound sterling could fluctuate by as much as 10% depending on the outcome of the vote, as the possibility of a hung parliament looms large and the continuation of Brexit uncertainty rumbles on.

Professionals across the UK industry should closely monitor the vote, say Centtrip, to determine how to mitigate risks to live events in the case of a currency swing, as volatility in foreign exchange markets can have a significant impact on the live industry, affecting touring income, royalty payments and festivals, among other areas.

The FinTech company predicts the election has three likely outcomes:

1. A Tory win of an outright majority will give political autonomy and is likely to end the Brexit deadlock, which will strengthen sterling. However, a Tory win has already been priced in by traders, seeing sterling rally four cents against the dollar over the course of the campaign. If Boris Johnson fails to capitalise on his poll lead and ends up with a smaller-than-forecast majority, the pound will give up its recent gains.

2. While a Labour win is a long shot according to the polls, it should not be discounted. Pollsters have got it wrong before. However, businesses have serious concerns about a Jeremy Corbyn premiership, which could lead to a rapid withdrawal of investment from the UK and a potential run on the pound.

“The music industry needs to think carefully about how it mitigates risk moving forward”

3. However big the gap is between the Conservative and Labour parties, the UK could still end up with another hung Parliament. This will mean a number of things, including no working majority, continued political paralysis, further extensions to Brexit and, inevitably, a weaker pound.

“We have studied the three likely outcomes of the election and our clients are making decisions based on that analysis,” comments Freddy Greenish head of music, film and entertainment at Centtrip.

“This is a historic election, which will have a major impact on the currency markets whichever way people vote and therefore the music industry needs to think carefully about how it mitigates risk moving forward.”

Centtrip predicts that, in the event of a majority Conservative government, focus will shift to the 11-month window of opportunity for the UK to sign new trade deals with the European Union, with the aim of pushing through the withdrawal agreement by 31 January 2020.

The uncertainty surrounding the Brexit deal – and the negative impact leaving the EU is likely to have on the music business – has been one of the main concerns for the UK live industry, with figures including former UK Music CEO Michael Dugher raising the alarm over the potential impact on touring and academics highlighting the risk to festivals, production companies, venues and other parts of the UK live music ecosystem.

The results of the election are expected in the early hours of Friday morning.

Picture: Maurice/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 


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Australian opposition party promises to prioritise live music

The Australian Labor party (ALP) has announced plans to invest millions of dollars into the Australian music industry in the run up to the federal elections on Saturday 18 May.

The Labor party launched its new arts policy, ‘Renewing Creative Australia’, in Melbourne. The policy builds on the original ‘Creative Australia’ plan launched under the Gillard Labor Government in 2013.

“Arts policy is not an add-on for a Labor government,” says Labor leader Bill Shorten. “If we get elected we will put the story of our arts at the centre of what we do as a nation. The arts deserve attention and support.”

The opposition party has promised AU$20 million to the Australian Live Music Fund to support live music venues, events and musicians. Additionally, $10 million will go to national music export development initiative Sounds Australia and $2.1 million to the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) to provide mentoring for female musicians.

The policy also focuses on promoting First Nations’ art and culture, dedicating $2.7 million to a new grants programme for Indigenous musicians. A Shorten Labor government would also provide $3 million to assist existing state-based First Nations’ theatre companies and $8 million to establish a new Indigenous Theatre Company as a performing arts institution.

“If we get elected we will put the story of our arts at the centre of what we do as a nation”

As health issues and artist wellbeing becomes an increasingly pertinent issue within the music industry, the policy also promises $5 million over a period of five years to Support Act, delivering a music industry-focused mental health programme and $1 million over five years to music therapy provider Nordoff Robbins.

The opposition party has also proposed legislation to tackle secondary ticketing, setting a ticket resale price cap of 10% above face value, banning automated ticket-buying software or ticket bots and electing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to act as watchdogs.

Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) is among industry organisations to show support for the policy.

“The support for Australian contemporary music in this arts policy will provide vital investment for artists at all stages of their career,” says APRA AMCOS chief executive Dean Ormston.

“With targeted investment in music education, export, indigenous creators and live music venues, Australia now has the policy potential to place us front and centre of the global music ecosystem.”

The policy follows the launch of the current Liberal party government’s Australian Music Industry Package, which dedicated $30.9 million to live music.

 


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Raise Your Voice: Pre-election Reeperbahn gets political

Reeperbahn Festival has finalised its festival and conference agendas for 2017, announcing the dates, times and venues for all events, as well as a special conference strand – Raise Your Voice – focusing on music and political engagement ahead of the German general election on 24 September.

“Pop is (and always has been) political,” reads a statement from the popular music industry event, which returns to Hamburg from 20 to 23 September. “Bands and artists have addressed important sociopolitical issues in their songs, and since the 1960s pop music has provided the soundtrack, as well as support, for major social transformations.

“Nevertheless, when those in the entertainment world – including musicians and businesses in the music industry – stand up for what they believe in, they are often subject to public criticism. Why that is, and what the music world can do to raise its voice and take a stand without coming across as inauthentic – this is something that will be explored in several panel discussions.”

Said panel discussions include Musik Bewegt – Wie geht Haltung?, in which artists Herbert Grönemeyer (pictured) Ingo Pohlmann and Fetsum will join representatives from Sea Watch, Doctors Without Borders and Viva con Agua to discuss the impact of social and political engagement; and Pop Goes Politics, with Fetsum (who came to Germany as a refugee), Büro für Offensivkultur founder Heinz Ratz and Global Citizen Festival Hamburg organiser Carolin Albrecht, which covers protest and political engagement in the pop world.

Music in the Middle East, meanwhile, will focus on the influence of music in a region afflicted by crises and war, with artists Shahin Najafi and Yasmine Hamdan and Cooking Vinyl/Palestine Music Expo founder Martin Goldschmidt.

All festival and conference events can be found on the Reeperbahn Festival website or the iOS and Android apps.

 


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‘May has “no clear mandate” for “hard Brexit”’

The shock result of yesterday’s general election means British prime minister Theresa May has “no clear mandate” for taking the UK out of the European single market, according to a leading creative-industry trade association.

The Creative Industries Federation, a membership organisation for the music, performing arts, and other creative industries, said in a statement this morning that the result of the election – which saw May’s Conservatives emerge as the largest party but fail to secure a majority of seats – could lead to rethink of Brexit.

“Today’s result raises concerns about the political stability of the UK in the short term,” says Federation chief executive John Kampfner. “One thing is beyond doubt, however: Theresa May has seen that there is no clear mandate for the government to negotiate a hard Brexit.

“Federation members were 96% in favour of remaining in the EU when surveyed before the referendum. They saw Brexit is a threat to the continued success of the creative industries, damaging growth and the UK’s global outlook. This general election vote now offers the opportunity to look at the issue again.

“The Federation will push for the UK to remain in the single market and the customs union and against undue restrictions on free movement, which we know will damage the capacity of the creative industries to deliver.”

“Theresa May has seen that there is no clear mandate for the government to negotiate a hard Brexit”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of recorded-industry body BPI, says the result will force any future Conservative government to adopt a “more nuanced position” in the upcoming negotiations over Britain’s exit from the EU.

“The general election result creates a political landscape that is considerably more complex,” he comments. “Assuming that the Conservatives form an administration, they will be under some parliamentary pressure to adopt a more nuanced position in the Brexit negotiations, which many in business will welcome.

“However, greater uncertainty over an extended period, with the possibility of a further election before the full parliamentary term, is unlikely to be helpful.”

Taylor says whatever the make-up of the next parliament, lawmakers should make the “creative businesses a priority and ensure a Brexit deal that benefits creative businesses like music by making sure that UK artists can tour freely in EU markets and that UK businesses can access the best talent”.

UK Music, the music-industry umbrella organisation that incorporates the UK Live Music Group, issued a more Brexit-neutral statement restating the importance of putting the music industry at the forefront of negotiations.

“Brexit is clearly the biggest issue facing the country … and we will ensure the interests of our members across the music industry are protected”

“UK Music congratulates all those elected at the general election,” says new CEO – and former Labour MP – Michael Dugher. “Clearly, the dust is settling and the situation will continue to unfold in the coming days, so we await developments.

“But over the coming weeks there will be many discussions about the future direction the country will take. It is paramount that the interests of the music industry are fully considered in those conversations and we look forward to engaging positively and working closely with the new parliament and the next government.

“The political parties each made welcome commitments to build on the successes of creative industries, and music in particular, throughout the election campaign. We will be holding their feet to the fire to ensure that they deliver on those pledges. Brexit is clearly the biggest issue facing the country – and our industry – and we will ensure that the interests of our members across the music industry are protected.”

IQ examined the parties’ manifestoes – and any specific policies affecting the live music business – earlier this week.

“One thing we can take comfort from is that the Conservatives and Labour were very specific in their manifesto commitments to ensure content creators are appropriately rewarded”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum (MMF), says the industry can “take comfort” from the fact that both the Conservatives and the opposition Labour party were “very specific in their manifesto commitments to ensure that content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online”.

In addition to lobbying the new government to “tackle the lack of transparency in the digital marketplace”, such as the perceived ‘value gap’ and lack of fair remuneration for artists from streaming, Coldrick says the organisation will continue its fight against secondary ticketing through the FanFair Alliance.

“Following the successful FanFair campaign, both parties have publicly committed to ensure the revised law on ticket touting is now properly enforced, and we look forward to working with the new government and the Consumer and Markets Authority [which is investigating four ticket resale sites] to make sure this happens. With the help of politicians it is imperative that we fix these fundamentals for both the live and recorded business, restoring the connection from audience to artist, to properly reward the creative talent on whose shoulders our entire business sits.”

At the time of writing, May (pictured) had reportedly struck a deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – which opposes a ‘hard’ Brexit that see Britain exit the single market – to form a coalition government.

 


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UK election 2017: How the parties stack up

In just under 15 hours, polling stations across the UK will open once more as the British public votes to elect a new government for the second time in two years.

The latest polls show the gap between Theresa May’s governing Conservative party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour as having narrowed to just one point – meaning all bets are off as Brexit Britain heads into its most important general election in a generation.

With that in mind, IQ has delved into the manifestoes of five parties standing across Britain – so no SNP, Plaid Cymru or DUP – and with at least one seat at the last general election to explore what effect their policies could have on the live music business.

Conservatives
The Tories, led by incumbent prime minister Theresa May, have campaigned on a platform of “strong and stable leadership” ahead of the start of negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union on 19 June.

As set out in the party’s recent Building Our Industrial Strategy green paper, the Conservative manifesto commits to supporting the UK’s music and creative industries by extending corporation tax breaks, introducing a new cultural development fund (although it has yet to put a figure on the funding available) and protecting artists’ intellectual property, developing the “skills and digital infrastructure that creative companies need”.

While the manifesto does not mention the live music industry specifically (or the music industry at all), May’s party alludes to the importance of cultural venues to urban areas, saying “towns and cities excel when they have a vibrant cultural life”, and says the cultural development fund will be used to “turn around communities”.

“Britain’s arts and culture are world-beating, and are at the heart of the regeneration of much of modern Britain,” it reads. “We will continue our strong support for the arts and ensure more of that support is based outside London.”

Prominent Tory Matt Hancock, currently minister of state for digital and culture, is also on record as criticising controversial risk-assessment document Form 696, which he says are forcing promoters of grime shows and other “urban music events” out of London.

As for Brexit, the Conservatives are optimistic, saying the country “can emerge from [the EU], look beyond it and launch into the future with confidence”. Of particular interest for those in the touring business worried about Brexit – and the pledge to bring “net migration down to the tens of thousands” – there is a welcome exception: Conditional on the recommendation of the independent Migration Advisory Committee, a Tory government “envisages [being able to] set aside significant numbers of visas for workers in strategically important sectors” without “adding to net migration as whole”.

“We will continue our strong support for the arts and ensure more of that support is based outside London”

Labour
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn – he of Grime4Corbyn fame – has been the most vocal in his support for British live music. Channelling Music Venue Trust in an interview with The Independent yesterday, Corbyn said a Labour government would explore opportunities to support the UK’s independent venues.

“What you have is a number of independent venues, sometimes pubs, cafés and so on, that have become almost informal live music venues,” he said, “and the small cafe does well and, hey presto, along comes a Costa [Coffee], Starbucks, Nero or something to take it over.

“[It’s] the same with pubs, which are often very reluctant to have live music on. Those live venues are absolutely crucial to the future of the music scene. So the £1,000 pub-licensing rebate” – introduced by Tory chancellor Philip Hammond – “is a good thing; we want to extend that a lot further.”

The party’s manifesto, like the Conservatives’, pays tribute to the UK’s creative industries, describing them as “the envy of the world”, and contains a promise for a cultural capital fund “to upgrade our existing cultural and creative infrastructure”. (Unlike the Tories, Labour has put a figure on it: £1 billion.)

Other live biz-friendly initiatives include introducing an agent-of-change principle in planning law to “ensure that new housing developments can co-exist with existing music venues”, strengthening trade-union support for performers, reversing cuts to the Arts Council and investing in music education.

“Live venues are absolutely crucial to the future of the music scene”

Liberal Democrats
The pro-EU Lib Dems have committed to a second referendum on EU membership, and, like the Greens (see below) and the Scotland-only SNP, advocate continuing the free movement of people in the EU – a position that will find support from many in the touring business. “We support the principle of freedom of movement – to abandon it would threaten Britain’s prosperity and reputation as an open, tolerant society,” its manifesto reads.

The manifesto contains one specific mention of live music, saying the party will, if elected, “examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues and the grassroots music sector, protecting venues from further closures”. Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones has previously used his position in the House of Lords to campaign for an overhaul of the 2003 Licensing Act.

Like the Conservatives, the Lib Dems also pledge to protect IP – specifically mentioning working with EU countries to continue cooperation on collective licensing – and suggests introducing ‘creative enterprise zones’ to “grow and regenerate the cultural output of areas across the UK”.

To boost continued growth in the creative industries, the party supports “tailored industry-specific tax support, promoting creative skills; supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules; and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses”.

“We will examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues, protecting venues from further closures”

UK Independence Party
Ukip, a right-wing Eurosceptic party which has urged its supporters to vote tactically in favour of the Conservatives where there is no Ukip candidate, has few policies tailored specifically towards the creative industries, instead trumpeting its credentials as “pro-business” across the board. Its manifesto does, however, contain a pledge to cut business rates, the rise in which under the Conservatives has been criticised by the UK Live Music Group.

The sole mention of ‘arts’ or ‘culture’ (at least not in the context of the perceived failings of multiculturalism) is in its plans to create ‘coastal enterprise zones’ to reverse the decline of Britain’s seaside towns. Its heritage and tourism spokeswoman, Victoria Ayling, says a ‘coastal towns taskforce’ would raise funding for “new arts and heritage facilities in coastal towns”.

“Ukip will support small businesses by cutting rates by 20% for businesses operating from premises with a rateable value of less than £50,000”

Green Party
Like the Lib Dems, the Greens’ relatively concise manifesto lists a core policy as protecting freedom of movement and remaining in the EU single market.

That’s where the good news (depending on your point of view) for the music industry ends, with no mention of arts, culture or music elsewhere. Aside from saying in its manifesto the party will “support start-ups and creative enterprises through community credit and green investment”, the party’s policy positions on the arts are further fleshed out on its website – although take them with a grain of salt, as the site was last updated before the 2015 election.

One policy that, if still in place, would ring alarm bells for concert promoters is a proposed new tax on “superstar performances”, with the proceeds “hypothecated to local cultural enterprises”. The page also outlines the party’s lukewarm position on corporate partnerships (“there may be a role for commercial sponsorship of any cultural activity”, it reads; emphasis ours) and the need for ‘protection’ of music and comedy from the “homogenising influence of a dominating global artistic culture”. The Greens do, however, pledge support for the overhaul of licensing “to ensure that small-scale live performance in pubs, clubs and similar venues is not stifled”.

“We will explore the feasibility of a tax on superstar performances”

Polling stations open at 7am tomorrow and close at 10pm, with the result expected to be ‘called’ in early hours of Friday morning. Anything less than an increased majority for May will be widely seen as a failure, while Corbyn has ruled out standing down in the event of a defeat.

Many polls show the two now almost neck and neck, although the final ‘poll of polls’ by Britain Elects shows the Tories still six points ahead.

 


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