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UK culture minister: free movement “essential” for artists

The UK minister for sport, media and creative industries, Nigel Adams, has stated that the UK government will endeavour to support continued freedom of movement for touring musicians after the country leaves the European Union on 31 January.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday (21 January), Adams stressed the importance of touring – “the lifeblood of the industry” – and of freedom of movement for “musicians, equipment and merchandise”.

“Visa rules for artists performing in the EU will not change until the implementation period ends in December 2020. It’s absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020,” said Adams.

Michael Dugher, former CEO of umbrella body UK Music, previously described the prospect of losing free movement as “a death knell for touring”, with many other industry figures raising concerns over the additional costs, delays and red tape artists would face in a post-Brexit world.

“It’s absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020”

The minster also stated the government was committed to supporting the “fantastic UK music industry at home and abroad”, adding that a “comprehensive music strategy” needed to be implemented to ensure the industry “continues to be the envy of the world”.

The Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, Conor McGinn, noted that the UK music industry “punches well above its weight economically”, citing the £5.2 billion it generates each year, as well as having a “profound effect on health and wellbeing”.

McGinn admitted that “challenges still exist” with regards to business rates for music venues – which were addressed both in the ruling Conservative Party manifesto and in the Queen’s speech – asking when relief would come in.

The debate was praised by Tom Kiehl, deputy CEO of UK Music, who says: “I would like to thank all the MPs from across the political spectrum who made such brilliant and heartfelt contributions about the importance of the UK music industry to our economy and society.

“We look forward to working with [Adams] on the new music strategy and a host of other areas to continue to grow our industry.”

 


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UK Music CEO Michael Dugher to step down

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher is to step down after almost three years, he announced today (6 December).

Dugher, a former parliamentarian who joined UK Music in April 2017, is leaving to take up a new position as chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, which represents the UK gambling industry.

His achievements at UK Music, the British umbrella body which incorporates the UK Live Music Group, include taking part in campaigns to change planning laws to protect music venues and mitigate the impact of rising business rates (taxes).

Dugher will leave at the end of January, with deputy CEO Tom Kiehl filling in until a replacement is found.

“It has been an immense privilege to serve as CEO at UK Music for nearly three years,” comments Dugher. “We have achieved great things for an industry that makes a huge and positive contribution to our country. I have always believed in the power of music to transform lives and I am grateful for the opportunity UK Music’s members gave me back in 2017 to play a part in what is a wonderful organisation. I hope I have made a difference.

“I have been lucky to work with some phenomenally talented and deeply committed people, on the staff and amongst our member organisations.

“In particular, I’d like to pay tribute to UK Music’s outstanding founding chairman, Andy Heath, for believing in me and for showing me every personal support.

“I am grateful for the opportunity UK Music’s members gave me back in 2017 to play a part in a wonderful organisation”

“I hope that UK Music has a profile and a reach today that can enable it to achieve even greater things in future. I am genuinely sorry to leave, but I made a commitment when I left politics to put my family first and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.

“I have no doubt that UK Music will only go from strength to strength and I wish the organisation, its members and the new acting CEO Tom Kiehl every success in the future.”

Under Dugher, UK Music last month released its inaugural Music by Numbers report, revealing that the value of the UK live industry grew 10%, to £1.1 billion, in 2018.

Paying tribute to Dugher, Heath adds: “Michael has done a truly outstanding job and we are very sorry indeed to lose a man who has helped give the music industry in the UK a presence, influence and reputation which it thoroughly deserves, but has not always in the past been able to communicate.

“The team at UK Music are first class and will continue the exceptional work it has shown in the last few years. We all, and I personally, wish Michael every success in the future and I look forward to him attending many of our functions in the future.”

 


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UK live music at “record high” £1.1bn value

The live music sector contributed £1.1 billion (US$1.42bn/€1.28bn) to the British economy in 2018 – a 10% year-on-year increase – according to UK Music’s inaugural Music by Numbers report.

Music by Numbers 2019 – which builds on and replaces the umbrella body’s forerunner Measuring Music and Wish You Were Here reports – reveals the UK music industry continued to grow across every sector last year, with live once again leading the charge.

UK Music, which includes the UK Live Music Group, measures the health of Britain’s music business each year by collating data on its contribution in goods and services – known as gross value added (GVA) – to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP), including export revenue.

The findings of this year’s report include:

GVA from recorded music also rose, by 5% to £535m – remaining at around half the contribution of the live sector – while total record label revenues grew for the third consecutive year (3% in 2018).

“The figures in this report are testament to the outstanding creativity of our world-leading artists”

Employment in live, meanwhile, increased 7% to 30,529.

“Our report reveals firm evidence that the British music industry is in great shape and continuing to lead the world,” comments UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. “The figures are hugely encouraging and show that, as well as enriching the lives of millions of people, music makes an incredible contribution to the UK’s economy.

“Live music is now at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both the UK and abroad to our arenas and smaller venues alike.

“Music exports are another amazing success story, with the best of British creative talent being showcased across the globe. However, this is not a time for complacency. We face many challenges to ensure we keep our music industry vibrant, diverse and punching above its weight. 

“Live music is now at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both the UK and abroad”

“We need to do more to protect grassroots venues by helping them combat soaring business rates. We need to nurture the talent pipeline, including by reversing the decline of music in education, so that children from every background have access to music. 

“We need to make sure that creators get fair rewards for their content and are not ripped off by big tech. And we urgently need to ensure that the impact of Brexit doesn’t put in jeopardy the free movement of talent, just at the time when we should be looking outwards and backing the best of British talent right across the world.”

The UK live music industry first broke £1bn GVA in 2016, though the 2018 figure is around £100m higher, indicating continued growth.

Writing in the Music by Numbers 2019’s foreword, culture secretary Nicky Morgan pays tribute to emerging British acts including Sam Fender, Dave (pictured) and Little Simz, and says “the figures in this report are testament to the outstanding creativity of our world-leading artists”.

 


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Live industry reacts to no-deal Brexit touring advice

Several UK live industry figures have described as inadequate new guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on touring after a no-deal Brexit, amid growing concern within the business over the viability of future tours.

Two DCMS guides – one for movement of people and the other for objects, animals and equipment – highlight key questions and actions to consider before embarking on tour.

The guidance advises touring artists and their teams to check immigration regulations for each EU country, ensure they have appropriate insurance and obtain a ‘green card’, GB sticker and, in some cases, an international driving permit, for vehicles and drivers.

A £326 ATA carnet is recommended to avoid paying duty on equipment and other goods. For those wanting to sell merchandise, DCMS advises applying for an EORI number “as soon as possible”, as failing to do so may incur “increased costs and delays”.

“It’s not very clear, is it?”, Paradigm agent Rob Challice says of the new no-deal Brexit guidance. “It hardly conveys that the government is in a state of readiness for no deal.

“What we do know,” continues Challice, “is that advice is going to change over the next four weeks and some of it will not be clear before 1 November.”

Music industry tax specialist and Hardwick and Morris partner Kevin Offer, who believes “some form of agreement covering touring” post-Brexit is needed, agrees that not much “detail” has been given in the new guide.

“The guidance hardly conveys that the government is in a state of readiness for no deal”

“Emphasis [is] placed on ‘check with the country you’re visiting’, although the EU is one customs area so the procedures should be the same,” Offer tells IQ.

For Offer, the subject of merchandise is not given enough attention in the new guides. “My understanding is that there is a possibility of paying import duty and (possibly) VAT at the point when merchandise to be sold at gigs enters the first EU country,” says Offer.

“I think that is going to be one of the main considerations on cash flow and budgets when planning tours.”

In August, industry professionals raised the alarm over regulations that would see musicians pay import duty and VAT on all merchandise in advance of touring in the case of a no-deal Brexit, with many pointing out that merchandising is “essential” for grassroots musicians in particular.

Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says the DCMS guidance, while useful, “does not translate into readiness”. He tells the Guardian he does not feel the live music industry was ready for a no-deal Brexit, citing issues including VAT, data protection and the movement of people and equipment. “Despite repeated calls for an EU-wide ‘touring passport’ in the event of no deal, all we have are short-term assurances regarding freedom of movement up to December 2020 – and then ‘leave to remain’ for a further 36 months.”

“A no-deal Brexit could effectively mark the death knell for touring for the majority of low-earning touring musicians”

The guidance follows calls from industry figures, including UK Music boss Michael Dugher, for more clarification on what to expect if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Dugher had warned that the “worryingly inadequate” information previously available was preventing the industry for preparing for what lay ahead.

“A no-deal Brexit could effectively mark the death knell for touring for the majority of low-earning touring musicians who are immensely talented and add tremendous economic value to the country,” Dugher tells IQ.

“In addition to the additional cost and red tape potentially associated with a no-deal Brexit, anyone bringing goods into or taking goods out of the UK in baggage or a small vehicle, which they intend to use for business, will be forced to declare the goods and pay import duty and VAT before moving them across the border.

“Britain is a global leader in music. The live music sector alone contributes £1 billion to the economy and it is the jewel in the crown. Why would the government want to kill this golden goose?”

 


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UK Music: touring may be “unviable” for many in no-deal Brexit

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has highlighted “growing concerns” around the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on the live music industry, in a recent letter to the home secretary.

Dugher states that the “viability of future tours” would be threatened if Britain were to exit the European Union without a deal.

The introduction of pre-paid income duty and value added tax on all merchandise brought on tour in the EU, as well as charges for moving equipment across borders, could result in an income loss of around 40% for touring acts, says Dugher.

The UK Music boss also calls for more clarification on what to expect in relation to freedom of movement post Brexit, stating the “worryingly inadequate” information currently available is preventing the industry from preparing for the possible changes ahead.

UK agents and promoters would find themselves under “considerable strain” if freedom of movement ended.

“Agents who have more EU acts on their books will see most impact,” writes Dugher, with some agents, promoters and festivals “who deal exclusively with EU artists” being “dragged into the immigration system for the first time.”

“[Immediate end to freedom of movement] would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry”

The immediate end to freedom of movement “would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry, in terms of UK artists travelling to the EU for concerts and vice versa,” says Dugher.

Dugher also states such a policy would “run contrary” to existing guidance which indicates there would be a three-month window in which EU citizens would be able to enter the UK to work.

“If an alternative ‘cliff edge’ policy is pursued,” continues Dugher, “it could result in retaliation from EU member states, requiring UK musicians to apply for expensive and bureaucratic visas and work permits in order to continue to tour the EU.”

UK Music and other industry associations, including the Musicians’ Union, have repeatedly pushed for a ‘touring passport’ which would allow musicians and their crews to move freely post-Brexit.

The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians recently called on the government to cover the additional costs incurred by musicians in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

 


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PledgeMusic to be wound up amid inquiry calls

Crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic is to be liquidated, as UK Music urges government action to prevent a repeat of the “scandal” that has left hundreds of artists out of pocket.

As reported in the London Gazette and first spotted by Music Technology Policy, a Royal Courts of Justice judge today (31 July) granted an order to wind up the beleaguered company, which has failed to pay artists that raised funds through its platform. The artist-to-fan marketplace suspended operations months ago following financial difficulties.

Following the order, UK Music deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl has called on the government to take action to prevent such a situation occurring again. Kiehl states the winding up of PledgeMusic is “entirely unsatisfactory” for fans and artists.

“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and other costs,” writes Kiehl in a letter to business minister Kelly Tolhurst.

“I would like to ask for a meeting to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again”

Following on from UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher’s suggestion in May, Kiehl once again urges a referral to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, “to investigate what went wrong”.

Kiehl also asks the minster to consider taking up the case with the Financial Conduct Authority, a body responsible for regulating crowdfunding activities, to investigate any possible regulatory breaches.

“Furthermore, I would like to ask for a meeting with you to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again,” concludes Kiehl.

Industry organisations including Music Managers’ Forum (MMF), PRS Foundation, the Musicians’ Union and the Association of Independent Musicians’ (AIM) last month set up a survey to assess the damage PledgeMusic’s demise caused for artists.

 


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Counter-terrorism police issue safety advice for festivalgoers

The UK’s National Counter Terrorism Policing Network has issued safety information to  festivalgoers as part of a new, UK Music-backed social-media campaign, #BeSafeBeSound.

While there is no intelligence to indicate an increased threat to festivals and live music events, the Metropolitan police’s deputy assistant commissioner, Lucy D’Orsi, says she wants the public to familiarise themselves with the #BeSafeBeSound checklist so they can play their part in keeping people safe this summer.

Additionally, police will release a series on videos on social media “encouraging festival-goers to have an amazing time, but to report anything suspicious, however small.”

“There are some huge festivals taking place in the coming months, and we want everyone to have a fantastic time,” says D’Orsi, who gave the welcome address at the second Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) last October. “Whilst we want everyone to have fun watching their favourite artists, people’s safety and security remains the top priority for police and festival organisers.

“The purpose of #BeSafeBeSound is to ensure that everyone attending these events knows they have an important role to play in the wider security operation. Everyone can help make events safe and secure by familiarising themselves with the #BeSafeBeSound advice, by reading our Run, Hide, Tell guidance and to be ready to act if they spot suspicious behaviour and activity.

“I would urge everyone attending events this summer to stay alert and follow the #BeSafeBeSound advice”

“Don’t think you might be wasting anyone’s time – it is always better to be safe than sorry. If something doesn’t look or feel right it probably isn’t, so tell someone.”

Counter Terrorism Policing’s key advice includes:

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher comments: “While it’s important to stress that there is no evidence of any increased threat to live music events this summer, it’s sensible that we all stay vigilant and follow advice.

“Festivals and live music gigs in the UK are amongst the best attended in the world and have rightly earned their reputation as well-organised events where nothing is more important than the safety of music fans.

“I would urge everyone attending events this summer to stay alert and follow the #BeSafeBeSound advice from the police to make sure everyone has a fantastic time in a safe and secure environment.”

More information can be found at www.counterterrorism.police.uk/safetyadvice.

 


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UK Music urges watchdog to investigate PledgeMusic

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has called on small business and consumer minister Kelly Tolhurst to refer PledgeMusic to watchdogs at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Dugher’s intervention comes after one of the firm’s co-founders, Benji Rodgers, warned that the music crowdfunding website was on the brink of bankruptcy. Rodgers had previously hoped to keep the direct-to-fan marketplace afloat by securing a partnership or acquisition deal.

The disclosure affects many artists who fear they will not receive the money that they are owed by PledgeMusic if it goes into administration. In January, it was revealed that the company was behind on payments to multiple artists, with debts amounting to thousands of dollars.

Dugher called on the consumer minister to investigate the firm’s failure and refer the case to the UK competition authority CMA.

His demand comes as the Musicians’ Union urged musicians owed money through the platform to contact them.

“Creators who used PledgeMusic’s services are likely to lose money”

“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and costs,” says Dugher.

“These artists were already enduring long delays in receiving payments. As a consequence, creators who used PledgeMusic’s services are likely to lose money, if it goes into administration without resolving its outstanding debts.”

Crowdfunding platforms such as PledgeMusic, states Dugher, are an important way for emerging artists to raise capital to support album recording costs, music video costs and other capital expenditures.

“This is often a crucial step for them to progress through the music talent pipeline. Musicians should be able to trust crowdfunding platforms to fulfil their obligation of delivering money pledged by fans and supporters,” adds Dugher.

“I would therefore ask that you refer PledgeMusic to the CMA to ensure that this matter is properly investigated.”

 


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Report: Brexit negatively impacts 95% of musicians

The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has published its fourth report into the effects of Brexit on music professionals, identifying future work in EU countries as a key issue for musicians post-Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on Musicians, builds on previous surveys to reveal the concerns of more than 2,000 musicians. Almost 50% of respondents identify an impact on their professional work since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016. Of these musicians, 95% report the impact has been negative, up from 19% in 2016.

Over two thirds of respondents state the difficulty in securing future work in EU countries is the biggest post-Brexit concern, with one in ten musicians stating employers cited Brexit when cancelling or withdrawing work offers.

“I’ve had ensembles questioning me as to whether it’s feasible for them to employ me post-Brexit,” comments a survey respondent. “They’re turning to me for guidance and there is nothing I can offer them.”

Out of the musicians surveyed, the vast majority visit the EU for work at least once a year and 22% work in EU countries on a regular basis, clocking up more than eleven visits per year.

Freedom of movement for musicians post Brexit has been a key concern across the industry, with associations including industry umbrella organisation UK Music and the UK’s Musicians’ Union calling for the introduction of a dedicated ‘touring passport’ for musicians which would act as a waiver for visas and permits.

A proposal of setting a minimum £30,000 salary requirement for skilled workers post-Brexit sparked major concerns in December. UK music chief Michael Dugher pointed out that the migration rules would exclude many musicians, songwriters and producers, who earn an average annual salary of £20,504.

“Musicians’ livelihoods depend on the ability to travel easily and cheaply around multiple countries for work in a short period of time”

In a letter sent to Dugher, department for Exiting the European Union minister Robin Walker stated that artists would not face the effects of migration restrictions until the end of the implementation period in December 2020. Walker also offered assurances that the safeguarding of touring musicians would be a priority post-Brexit, but did not specify the ways in which the government would do so.

In case of the loss of freedom of movement, ISM’s Save Music campaign advocates the introduction of a two-year, multi-entry working visa tailored specifically for musicians. 64% of those surveyed stated that such a visa would alleviate concerns relating to EU-based work in the future.

The report also recommended more resources be made available for musicians seeking guidance on mobility issues, urging a government department to set up a hotline for this purpose.

Impact of Brexit on Musicians demonstrates how much the music workforce depends on EU27/EEA countries for professional work, and reveals a profession who are deeply concerned about the future as the UK prepares to leave the EU,” says ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts.

“Musicians’ livelihoods depend on the ability to travel easily and cheaply around multiple countries for work in a short period of time.

“At a time of great uncertainty, musicians need to know their jobs in EU27/EEA will be secure once the UK leaves the EU. Therefore we call for the government to take action, using the recommendations outlined in this report, to protect musicians’ livelihood and the all-important music and wider creative industries.”

 


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UK Music: Spring Statement “missed opportunity”

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has called chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement a “missed opportunity” to help grassroots venues, but vows to continue campaigning.

Dugher, along with Labour’s shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan, met chancellor Hammond in February for urgent talks regarding business rates relief for grassroots music venues.

The music industry representatives urged Hammond to ensure live music venues benefit from the new business rates retail discount that applies to pubs, restaurants and other small businesses.

Senior politicians from across the main British political parties have shown support for the campaign to make grassroots venues eligible for business rates rebates, but action has yet to be taken.

The 2017 revaluation of business rates – the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – resulted in a 31% increase in business rates payable by grassroots venues. A UK Live Music Census showed that 33% of small music venues reported that the increases had an ‘extreme, strong or moderate’ impact on their existence.

“The chancellor missed a great opportunity with his Spring Statement to give some much-needed help to hard-pressed grassroots music venues”

“The chancellor missed a great opportunity with his Spring Statement to give some much-needed help to hard-pressed grassroots music venues,” comments Dugher, who says it is “ludicrous” to classify pubs and clubs as “not similar” to music venues.

“Our chance of developing future talent is put in jeopardy if performers cannot find a place to play, nurture their talent and grow their audience. Supporting grassroots venues must be a key part of the government’s industrial strategy for music,” adds Dugher, urging the chancellor to rethink his policy.

UK Music welcomes the chancellor’s announcement that a £700 million package will be rolled out from next month to help small and medium-sized enterprises invest in apprenticeships

The umbrella organisation also welcomes new investment in cities and city regions, following UK Music’s work with city region mayors to support the night-time economy across the UK.

 


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