UK industry responds to DCMS live music report
Yesterday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee published the results of its inquiry into the British live music business, which calls for wide-ranging investment in emerging artists, support for grassroots venues and an end to ‘discrimination’ against grime, among other recommendations.
Below is a round-up of the industry reactions so far…
Michael Dugher, CEO, UK Music
“This is a landmark report into live music by Damian Collins and members of the DCMS Select Committee. They have really listened to the live music industry, which contributes around £1bn a year to the UK economy, and their report is a real wake-up call for everyone who wants to safeguard live music.
“Grassroots music venues across the country face massive challenges with 35 per cent of them closing in the past decade, according to the Music Venue Trust.
“It’s great that cross-party MPs have recognised the warnings that we at UK Music have issued over the impact of soaring business rates bills on venues. This committee has now joined MPs from all parties who have called on the chancellor to end the present system which discriminates against music venues, including by not allowing them to get the the same rates rebate as pubs and clubs. It is time the government listened and threw a lifeline to venues who are struggling to survive.
“Viagogo has been ripping off music fans for far too long and we are delighted this report recognises that. It’s high time Viagogo became Via-NoNo when it comes to ticket sales. But Google is complicit in this because it effectively facilitates rip-off merchants like Viagogo by ranking them at the top when people search for tickets online. Google must also take responsibility to make sure fans get a fair deal.
“We particularly welcome the recommendation that a new taskforce is needed to help and support emerging talent. We urgently need help to nurture the music industry’s talent pipeline if we are to continue producing world-leading superstars like Adele and Ed Sheeran. With the decline of music in education in particular, there is a real danger that having the chance of a successful career in music means that you have to have access to the ‘bank of mum and dad’. We are, in effect drawing water from a well that’s getting smaller and smaller.
“One of our first campaigns after UK Music was set up in 2008 was to call for Form 696 to be axed. We welcomed the move by mayor Sadiq Khan to end a practice that effectively discriminates unfairly against genres like grime. We must root our discrimination wherever we find it and we support the Committee’s call for cross-departmental action by government to develop guidance for all the relevant authorities to ensure that urban music acts do not face discrimination.
“We are pleased that the report recommends and supports the establishment of regional Music Boards. This has been a key part of UK Music’s work over the past 18 months to help support music, boost the nighttime economy and spread opportunities more widely. We have already set up successful Music Boards in London, Liverpool and Sheffield, and hopefully soon in Greater Manchester, too, which bring people together and get things done”.
“We urge government and local authorities to do something to protect the future of live music.”
“We urge government and local authorities to do something to protect the future of live music”
Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance
“FanFair Alliance welcomes all aspects of the committee’s wide-reaching report, and especially their condemnation of Viagogo.
“What we now need is action.
“If a restaurant poses a risk to public health, we expect inspectors to close it immediately on grounds of consumer protection.
“Unfortunately, such powers of enforcement are seemingly absent when it comes to online ticket touting. So despite the huge consumer harm caused by Viagogo’s practices, and despite the best efforts of the Competition & Markets Authority and other regulators, the site has continued to operate in clear disregard of the law.
“This needs to change. Viagogo is already facing legal proceedings for contempt of court. While that case is pending, there is surely a compelling argument for the website to be temporarily blocked and for platforms like Google to cut off its advertising.”
“FanFair Alliance welcomes all aspects of the committee’s wide-reaching report, and especially their condemnation of Viagogo”
“We welcome the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report into live music; the conclusions echo what we have been witnessing and experiencing in small live music venues across the country, with London venues facing the greatest risks from rising costs. The UK has been developing new talent that has conquered the world since the 60s, but we put at risk our ability to find and develop future talent if we don’t find ways to keep our music venues open.
“The current situation is perilous: just today there are press reports that the Social in Soho is facing closure – just one in a long line of seminal music venues fighting for its future. We face landlords who are pricing live music venues out of London, massive rises in business rates and at times unhelpful licensing authorities – all backed up by the conclusions in the report. We urge government and local authorities to do something to protect the future of live music.”
“We put at risk our ability to find and develop future talent if we don’t find ways to keep our music venues open”
Paul Reed, CEO, Association of Independent Festivals
“We are pleased that the DCMS Select Committee has heeded warnings from AIF and recognised dangerous conflicts of interest and stifling market dominance as a result of the vertical integration of giant corporate conglomerates in the live industry, and the effect this has on competitors and consumers alike.
“We hope to see the recommendation of a full market study from the Competition and Markets Authority acted upon swiftly.”
“We are pleased that the committee has … recognised dangerous conflicts of interest and stifling market dominance as a result of vertical integration”
Beverley Whitrick, strategic director, Music Venue Trust
“The DCMS report recommendations provide a clear path for key stakeholders, the government, the cultural sector and the music industry to act together with Music Venue Trust to deliver a comprehensive and sustainable solution to this crisis.
“We will be reaching out, once again, to our colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, UK Music, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and Arts Council of Northern Ireland to begin the process of working with them to deliver these recommendations. Thank you to everyone who supported and helped us to get to this point.”
“The DCMS report recommendations provide a clear path … to deliver a comprehensive and sustainable solution to this crisis”
“We are disappointed that the DCMS have singled us out particularly, when hundreds of thousands of British citizens use our service to buy and sell tickets to their favourite live events every day and never experience any problems. We provide an invaluable service to UK consumers by giving them access to events in the UK and all over the world.
“For those transactions that fall into the 1% annually where customers do have an issue, the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions the event organisers pose simply because customers have chosen to purchase tickets from a competitor of theirs. We have been complying and will absolutely continue to work constructively with the CMA to make further amends where necessary, all the while putting all of the buyers and sellers who use the platform first.”
“We are disappointed that the DCMS have singled us out particularly”
Wayne Grierson, regional manager, northern EMEA, StubHub
“We welcome the committee’s report into the live music industry and are pleased that it recognises the importance of live music to the UK economy.
“Our own data shows the extent to which people travel not only within the UK to attend live events, but also internationally. On StubHub, we saw the number of people travelling to the UK to attend music and sports events grow by 48% in 2018. This has a huge impact on tourism and travel industries, as well as the music industry itself.
“Marketplaces like StubHub where fans can buy and sell tickets help to enable this by offering a consistent consumer experience globally. They are a valuable tool for those unable to get a ticket through the initial and, as we have seen in other markets, often limited distribution from primary sellers. Our data also shows that on average 38% of tickets are bought in the last week before a concert, with 10% of tickets bought on the day. Many people decide to attend an event at short notice, which helps decrease the number of empty seats at live events and increases the income taken by venues small and large.
“StubHub is proud of its strong consumer protections and continued commitment to working with policymakers and implementing fan-first policies.”
“StubHub is proud of its strong consumer protections and continued commitment to working with policymakers”
Deborah Annetts, chief executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians
‘We welcome this timely report into live music from the DCMS Committee, which echoes our concerns and the concerns of the entire industry in relation to the vulnerability of music venues, the EBacc [English Baccalaureate] and its impact on the talent pipeline and the threat of Brexit on the music industry. The ISM submitted evidence last year to the committee and it is great to see our concerns have been referenced.
As it stands, the EBacc policy is failing on its own terms – despite the government’s EBacc uptake target of 75% (rising to 90% by 2025), the rate of take up has plateaued at 38% since 2014. And this is at a great cost to music education in schools, as this report and research from the University of Sussex (which the report makes reference to), BBC, Education Policy Institute and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education’s State of the Nation report shows. If the EBacc is not to be abolished, despite the evidence against it, then the addition of a sixth pillar for arts subjects would go some way in ensuring all students benefit from a creative education, as the report recommends.
We need an education system that addresses the forthcoming challenges of Brexit and the fourth industrial revolution. We call on the Secretary of State, Damian Hinds to take a fresh look at the EBacc and conduct an urgent review. We also welcome calls to ensure improved processes are in place within Music Education Hubs to monitor performance.
Recommendation 10 in the State of the Nation report calls for the metrics for measuring the work delivered in response to the National Plan for Music Education to be revised to go beyond ‘levels of activity’ reported through the current narrow set of metrics.
“We also welcome the report’s support for the introduction of an EU-wide touring visa. As our report Musicians and Brexit showed, an end to freedom of movement will have a major negative impact on the music industry, with a third of musicians relying on work in the EU27 for at least half their income. If freedom of movement is to end, the Government must ensure that free movement rights are maintained for musicians, or introduce a two-year multi-entry visa for British musicians working in the EU27.’
This article will be updated with more reactions from industry figures as we receive them.