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Labour Live: Corbyn follows up Glasto slot with own festival

The Labour party, currently the UK’s official opposition, has announced the launch of a one-day festival this summer to capitalise on the popularity of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Live 2018, which will take place on Saturday 16 June – the same date as Kili’s Stone Free at The O2 – at White Hart Lane recreation ground in north London, will feature “loads of great bands, speakers from across literature and politics, campaign training, food and drink [and] kids’ entertainment”.

Music will come courtesy of the Magic Numbers, Rae Morris and Jermain Jackman, with senior Labour politicians including Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow international development minister Kate Osamor also confirmed.

“If you’re a Labour supporter looking to meet other supporters, a music buff looking for an affordable summer festival or a family looking for a great day out, we’ve got you covered,” promise organisers.

The launch of the festival follows Corbyn’s appearance at Glastonbury 2017, where he received a rapturous reception for a speech decrying sexism, homophobia, inequality and anti-refugee sentiment.


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Glasto defends litterpickers’ “temporary worker” status

Glastonbury Festival has stood by its decision to employ hundreds of people on temporary ‘zero-hours’ contracts to clean up after this year’s event.

In a piece for The Independent last week, Roisin O’Connor, the paper’s music correspondent, alleged Glastonbury had “exploited” some 700 workers from across the EU by hiring them on zero-hours contracts and then sacking them after two days.

O’Connor writes:

Organisers were accused of taking advantage of some 700 people who were signed up as litterpickers expecting two weeks of paid employment after the acts and festivalgoers had gone home, only to leave some three quarters stranded and out of pocket in the Somerset countryside. […]

However, it appears that this year’s good weather, as well as the use of charity workers and on-site litter crews during the festival, meant that there was less rubbish [than expected] after the event had finished.

One worker, Czech Simon Kadlcak, told The Independent that 600 of the 700 workers were laid off after two days after being told there was not enough work for them. “There are people without work still sleeping in tents here because they have nowhere to go,” he said. “They were expecting two weeks of work.”

The allegations came after a highly publicised appearance at the festival by Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour party, whose party has pledged to ban zero-hours contracts. In a statement issued after the Independent story, a spokesman for Corbyn said: “Jeremy and the Labour party have taken a very strong stand against the use of zero-hours contracts, the exploitation of migrant and other workers and the spread of all manner of insecure agency working, and we would take that view wherever it happened.”

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, festival organiser Glastonbury Festival Events Ltd corroborated the story, saying that a “fantastic effort from festivalgoers in taking their belongings home” meant clean-up work was finished after two and a half days. The variable length of the clean-up period is, says Glastonbury, something temporary staff “are made aware of in their worker agreements”.

The festival’s full statement is reproduced below:

In response to recent stories in the media, we would like to state that Glastonbury Festival’s post-event litterpicking team are all given temporary worker agreements for the duration of the clean-up. As well as being paid, they are provided with free meals and access to on-site facilities.

The length of the clean-up varies considerably from year to year, based largely upon the weather conditions before, during and after the festival. This is something the litterpickers – many of whom return year after year – are made aware of in their worker agreements (which assure them of a minimum of eight hours’ work).

This year was an unusually dry one for Glastonbury. That, coupled with a fantastic effort from festivalgoers in taking their belongings home, meant that the bulk of the litter picking work was completed after 2.5 days (in 2016, a very wet year, the equivalent period was around 10 days).

All but a core crew of litterpickers were advised that there was no further work available after Friday (June 30). Those who weren’t able to leave the site over the weekend were given further meals, plus assistance with travel to nearby towns with public transport links.

We’d like to thank the litter pickers for their work on the clean-up, which was – as always – hugely valued by the festival.

Glastonbury Festival will return in 2019 following a ‘fallow’ year next year.


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Oh, Jeremy: Politics goes pop at ‘wokest-ever’ Glasto

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know that last weekend saw 135,000 people descend on Worthy Farm in Somerset for the return of the world’s largest greenfield music event, Glastonbury Festival.

Aside from the big names in contemporary music and performing arts that have, since the early ’80s, been the festival’s trademark, Glastonbury 2017 served up a slate of distinctly political programming – ‘Was this the wokest Glastonbury ever?’, asks The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman; ‘staying woke’ meaning being aware of, or acting on, perceived social injustice – with the buzz around Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn arguably eclipsing that of musical headliners Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Writes Alexis Petridis:

Politicians have been turning up to Glastonbury for years, but this year the leader of the opposition was among the most hotly anticipated attractions: when he arrived on site, his Land Rover was mobbed by fans. In fact, it was hard to escape Corbyn: if Glastonbury 2017 had an unofficial anthem, it was his name sung to the tune of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’.

You heard “oh, Jeremy Corbyn” everywhere: at the silent disco, during Radiohead’s Friday night headlining set, midway through the Other stage appearance by rapper Stormzy, who gamely joined in. When Corbyn finally gave a speech – in a stunning piece of billing that could only happen at Glastonbury, he appeared between hip-hop duo Run the Jewels and Southampton’s foremost R&B loverman Craig David – the crowd brought the entire area around the Pyramid stage to a standstill: in some of its furthest reaches, you occasionally got the sense that some people were eager for him to stop talking so they could get on with the more pressing business of singing “oh, Jeremy Corbyn”.

The BBC’s music reporter, Mark Savage, says the leader of the opposition – who earlier this month denied prime minister Theresa May a parliamentary majority – was, with a few exceptions, “given a rockstar welcome” by the left-leaning Glastonbury crowd, receiving “loud cheers for comments on equality (‘We need to challenge sexism in our society, and homophobia, and any form of discrimination that goes on’) and refugees (‘Let’s support them in their hour of need and not see them as a threat and danger”‘).”

Performers, too, got on board with Corbynmania: Unlike the sombre atmosphere at last year’s event, amid which Britain voted to exit the EU, many artists seemed buoyed by his presence, with Radiohead optimistically predicting a Corbyn premiership (“See you later, Theresa. Just shut the door on your way out”), while spoken-word artist Kate Tempest mocked May’s ‘strong and stable’ slogan by accusing the prime minister of leading the UK “into ruin”.

Satirical candidate Lord Buckethead, meanwhile – who stood against May in her Maidenhead seat on a platform of, among other policies, nationalising Adele –  got a bigger cheer than the band he introduced, Sleaford Mods.

If Glastonbury 2017 had an unofficial anthem, it was Corbyn’s name sung to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’

However, despite the best efforts of Michael Eavis, festival founder and Corbyn supporter, his man doesn’t look any closer to Downing Street: May this morning formed a deal with to stay in power with the backing of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, meaning Eavis’s dream of UK nuclear disarmament is off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Glastonbury Festival will return in 2019, following a ‘fallow year’ in 2018 to give Worthy Farm a chance to recover. Or, if you’re Daily Star ‘journalist’ Sabrina Dougall, Glastonbury 2018 has been CANCELLED because of a TIDAL WAVE of rubbish:


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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.

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 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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Red Wedge 2.0? Momentum backs Concerts for Corbyn

Momentum, the socialist British pressure group formed in support of Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, has announced a series of concerts in “celebration of [Corbyn’s] progressive policies and the growing grassroots movement around them”.

People Powered: Concerts for Corbyn, a joint venture between Momentum and Brighton-based promoter Rocksalts, will debut at the Brighton Dome (1,700-cap.) on 16 December with a line-up of Temples; Kathryn Williams; Stealing Sheep; Paul Weller, Robert Wyatt, Danny Thompson, Steve Pilgrim and Ben Gordelier; The Farm; Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind; Edgar Summertyme; and Ghetto Priest.

Tickets go on sale this Friday (14 October), priced at £25 plus a £1.50 booking fee.

“Music brings joy and pleasure, and it can also politicise and empower. That’s why Momentum is so excited to be collaborating with Rocksalts and these amazing artists to put on this series of concerts”

Adam Klug, a national organiser for Momentum, says: “Music brings joy and pleasure, and it can also politicise and empower. That’s why Momentum is so excited to be collaborating with Rocksalts and these amazing artists to put on this series of concerts.”

The concert series echoes the ultimately unsuccessful Red Wedge collective of the mid-’80s, which organised music and comedy tours in opposition to the policies of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Despite the efforts of the group, which centred around The Communards, Paul Weller’s The Style Council and comedians such as Ben Elton, Phill Jupitus and Lenny Henry, Mrs Thatcher became in 1987 the first Conservative leader since 19th-century prime minister Lord Liverpool to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories, and Red Wedge disbanded shortly after.


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Musicians’ Union votes to ditch Corbyn

The UK Musicians’ Union (MU) has thrown its support behind Owen Smith’s bid for the Labour party leadership, voting to ditch current leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn over the latter’s perceived lukewarm support for Britain remaining in the EU.

John Smith, general secretary of the union, says: “I am pleased that the EC [executive committee] has voted to endorse a candidate who has been such a good friend to the union over the past few years. Owen has met with us on a regular basis, and has supported the MU on issues such as protection of live music venues, copyright protection, fair pay for musicians and arts funding matters.

“He is also offering a second referendum based on approval of the terms of Brexit, which is undoubtedly an attractive option for many musicians concerned about what Brexit might mean. Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand called for article 50 [the mechanism by which a member state leaves the EU] to be invoked almost immediately after the Brexit vote was announced.”

“Owen Smith is offering a second referendum based on approval of the terms of Brexit… Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand called for article 50 to be invoked almost immediately”

Owen Smith, who is currently the only challenger to Corbyn (pictured) following Angela Eagle’s withdrawal from the contest, adds: “I understand the anger felt by many MU members following the EU referendum result. Open borders, European funding, protective copyrights and social dialogue on live performances are now all in jeopardy. Employment and health and safety rights derived from our membership of the EU are now threatened.

“I don’t trust the Tories [the ruling Conservative party] to make Brexit work. That’s why, under my leadership, Labour will demand the final Brexit deal is signed off by the British people, either through a general election or a second referendum.”

The UK live music industry was, on the whole, bullish on the country’s prospects following the vote to leave the European Union on 23 June, although many fear the return of border visas and carnets for British artists touring Europe.


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News in brief (Monday 4 April 2016)


Guns N’ Roses reunite for North American stadium tour
Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan will regroup for a North American stadium tour following the band’s headline appearance at Coachella next month. The Not in this Lifetime tour, produced and promoted exclusively by Live Nation, will see GNR headline stadium dates throughout the US and Canada, starting in Detroit at Ford Field on 23 June and include shows in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Washington DC, Philadelphia and more.

New venue planned for Denmark Street
Camden Council has granted planning permission for a new music venue near Denmark Street, known as London’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’. The 280-capacity venue, which will form part of the new St Giles Circus development, is expected to open in 2018. (The Spaces)

Jeremy Corbyn to appear at Glastonbury
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition in the UK, will speak at Glastonbury Festival in June after accepting an invitation from left-wing singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. Corbyn, who was elected leader of the Labour Party in September, will speak on the Left Field stage on behalf of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. (NME)

LA County Fair chief steps down
Jim Henwood, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Fair Association, has resigned after reports emerged that he earnt a salary of over US$1 million last year while the company posted a loss of over $3.5m. The association operates the Fairplex facility (formerly the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds) in Pomona, California. (Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood Vampires announce summer tour
Supergroup Hollywood Vampires – Alice Cooper, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan and Johnny Depp – will play nine festival and one-off dates this summer. The tour kicks off on 27 May at Rock in Rio Lisboa before heading to Sweden, Denmark, Romania and US, finishing on 25 July at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. (Billboard)