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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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MVT releases Manifesto for Music Venues 2017

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has followed UK Music and the Creative Industries Federation in releasing its own manifesto for 8 June’s general election.

Entitled A Manifesto for Music Venues 2017, the document comprises three commitments MVT is asking prospective MPs to make as part of their election campaigns that will help protect grassroots music venues (GMV).

From the manifesto, they are:

1. Reform cultural funding – invest in GMV infrastructure

2. Take action to increase and reward private investment

3. Cut red tape and reduce costs

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, comments: “Grassroots music venues are vital incubators of talent, the ignition system of a global industry that is worth £4.1 billion to the UK economy. In 2016, UK artists accounted for seven of the year’s ten best-selling artist albums in the world. If we want future UK musicians to continue to produce that music for us, they – and the technicians, crew, promoters, security who work with them – deserve world-class grassroots music venues to create, develop and grow that music.

“We’ve been researching, discussing and debating what’s happened to our grassroots music venue touring circuit for the last three years. It’s time for action. We are laying out three deliverable, achievable and sensible actions a future government can take to support them to achieve their full potential. We want every prospective MP to read those commitments and pledge to support them.”

The manifesto will be officially unveiled at a panel at The Great Escape in Brighton this Thursday.

Britain goes the polls on 8 June following the calling of a snap election by incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May. Current polls predict a landslide victory for her Conservative party, which is committed to a clean, or ‘hard’, break from the EU and the European single market.

 


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UK associations launch election manifestoes

UK Music, the umbrella body for Britain’s live, recorded and published music industries, and the Creative Industries Federation, a membership organisation for the UK’s creative sectors, have each presented their manifestoes for next month’s general election, recommending policy positions they say will enable the UK industry to thrive over the course of the next parliament.

The UK Music Manifesto 2017, published today, sets out a five-point plan for the music industry to “build the right framework […] in the coming years as the next government leads Brexit negotiations and plans for a future beyond the EU”.

From the manifesto, those five points are:

International action
We need the freedom to trade at an international level. It enables us to break and develop new markets. This freedom is crucial during Brexit negotiations and as the country develops a new trading relationship with the world. UK Music is concerned that the UK creative industries must not be used as a bargaining chip in any trade talks. Nor should UK music content be subject to restrictive quotas or costly tariffs.

Regional development
UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report into music tourism underlines the appetite for attending music events the length and breadth of the country, generating £3.7 billion in spend in the process. There is a possibility of doing much more with devolved and local government playing a role in bringing this together. Taking steps to introduce regional creative clusters and develop creative enterprise zones has the potential to support this further.

Intellectual property
Maintaining and strengthening the copyright framework is of great importance to the music industry during the Brexit negotiations and beyond. The European Union’s competency over copyright means UK domestic legislation is based on directives emanating from the EU as part of the copyright acquis. The EU provides a high level of protection for copyright works.

Skills and education
Talented creators are essential for the music industry’s continued success. This must not be taken for granted. Creative skills need be nurtured at the earliest opportunity. The music industry’s workforce needs to be equipped with the right skills to realise this talent.

Finance and investment
The right incentives are needed to sustain the development of new creators and music businesses. Breaking new acts and music contributes to our growth and productivity as a sector. Measures should be put in place to further drive this. Our ability to be entrepreneurial, bold and ambitious is enabled by having the right funding mechanisms and financial environment in place.

There are many small and medium enterprises operating in the music industry whose financial needs may be quite different to that of larger companies. Fiscal stimulus is needed whether a business or creator is at start-up or scale-up phase, or whether the needs are more general.

Andy Heath, UK Music’s chairman, comments: “To maintain growth and withstand the challenges that may be presented over the next five years, our government needs to put creative industries at the heart of Brexit negotiations and devise an industrial strategy to safeguard sectors like music and allow them to develop further. Securing the best deal for music must be achieved for our industry, our economy and for the world’s music fans.

“There will be many difficult issues which will occupy policy-makers and politicians, but it is vital to protect and develop the music sector, which is one of the UK’s greatest success stories, generating huge sums on a world stage. Policies overcoming the value gap and securing the true value of music from digital platforms, broadening protections for live venues and building our international trading relationships would go a long way to securing the future.”

The Creative Industries Federation, meanwhile, is in agreement as to the importance of ensuring the arts are “a priority sector” in the ongoing Brexit negotiations”.

“Securing the best deal for music must be achieved for our industry, our economy and for the world’s music fans”

“The UK’s creative industries are key to driving growth in a post-Brexit Britain, reads its manifesto, published late last month. “The sector is the fastest-growing part of the UK’s economy, contributing £87bn in GVA. It returns four times the GVA of the automotive industry, six times as much as life sciences and nearly 10 times that of aerospace. Between 2011 and 2015, it created three times more jobs than the economy as a whole. The UK is the third-largest exporter of cultural goods and services in the world – just behind China and the US. However, as other countries are now prioritising the sector, we cannot take our global pre-eminence for granted.

“With much of this growth, innovation and job creation emerging beyond London and the south-east, the creative industries are also critical to delivering social and economic regeneration in places that need it the most. Few other sectors can deliver so much and at this scale.

“With the right vision, leadership and policies in place, the creative industries can help secure an economy and society that works for all. But if government fails to deliver, this vision is at risk.”

Its manifesto contains a ten-point plan that, in addition to echoing UK Music’s calls for a healthy level of funding, the introduction of creative enterprise zones and support for “creative careers”, calls for an overhaul of the visa system as Britain prepares for a life outside the EU.

“Our visa system was built for an industrial landscape that no longer exists,” it reads. “We need a 21st-century model that recognises the needs of fast-growing, world-leading and highly innovative sectors, including science, tech and the creative industries.”

Britain goes the polls on 8 June following prime minister Theresa May’s (pictured) calling of a snap election. Current polls predict a landslide victory for her Conservative party, which is committed to a clean, or ‘hard’, break from the EU and the European single market.

 


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UK govt affirms post-Brexit commitment to music

In a move welcomed by industry groups, the British government has appointed TV executive Sir Peter Bazalgette to lead an independent review into the UK’s creative industries as part of its wider post-Brexit industrial policy.

Sir Peter’s review, announced yesterday in the Building Our Industrial Strategy green paper, will be joined by similar reviews into four other ‘key sectors’ – life sciences, ultra low-emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation and nuclear power – and focus on “how the UK’s creative industries, like our world-leading music and video-games industries, can help underpin our future prosperity by utilising and developing new technology, capitalising on intellectual property rights and growing talent pipelines” following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Outgoing UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple says the government’s commitment to “the development of skills, starting and growing businesses, encouraging trade and inward investment, cultivating world-leading sectors and driving growth are all to be welcomed and supported”.

“The announcement that Sir Peter Bazalgette is to take a lead in fashioning a deal for the creative industries is encouraging and sends a powerful message about the importance of this valuable sector,” she comments.

Dipple also draws attention to the umbrella body’s own Industrial Strategy for the Creative Industries report, published last September, “based on three pillars of trade: a framework to trade, incentives to trade and regionalisation of trade”.

“The announcement that Sir Peter Bazalgette is to take a lead in fashioning a deal for the creative industries is encouraging, and sends a powerful message about the importance of this valuable sector”

The Creative Industries Federation, whose Brexit Report in November called for “the creative industries to be put at the heart of government thinking as the country develops its new industrial strategy”, says it “look[s] forward to working with [Sir Peter] on how the UK’s creative industries can help underpin future prosperity”.

Federation president John Kampfner says: “When we first began talking about the creative industries being a crucial part of any future industrial strategy, no such strategy was on the table and many people believed such a move unlikely. But the strength of argument has won the day. We have come a long way in a short time.”

The federation’s founder and chairman, graphic designer Sir John Sorrell, adds: ” I founded the Creative Industries Federation because for decades the sector had been under-represented in government. Recognition of the economic contribution and the potential for growth across the whole of the country is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

“But this is just the start, and the federation will continue to lead the way, not just in the UK, but in the regions and internationally.”

 


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May promises action on Waterson report

Just over a month after Professor Michael Waterson said he was concerned government has yet to respond to his recommendations for the regulation of Britain’s secondary ticketing market, prime minister Theresa May has pledged to look “very carefully” at his findings “to see what can be done to address the issue” of unauthorised ticket touting in the UK.

Mrs May (pictured), speaking in parliament today during Prime Minister’s Questions, was responding to a question from Nigel Adams, the member of parliament for Selby and Ainsty.

Referring to an incident in which he’d fallen lost out to ticket bots, Adams said: “A few weeks ago, I thought I’d successfully bought four tickets online for one of my favourite bands, Green Day” – cue much laughing from the house – “only to be told the tickets were unavailable and the gig sold out. Within minutes I could buy the tickets on another site for twice the price.

“It turns out the ticket site had been the victim of a computerised attack by organised touts, who then resell the tickets at inflated prices.

“Will the prime minister ask her ministers to give close consideration to my amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, which would make the computerised targeting of tickets for resale an offence? Similar legislation exists elsewhere, and it would go a long way towards protecting consumers and genuine music fans.”

Adams’s amendment to the bill, for which the government hopes to achieve royal assent by spring 2017, would make it an offence to “use digital ticket purchasing software to purchase tickets for an event over and above the number permitted in the condition of sale” and “knowingly resell tickets using such software”.

“If this amendment is made law, it would help turn the the tide and ensure the ticketing market works in favour of fans rather than touts”

Adams has the support of the world’s largest secondary ticketing site, StubHub, which has itself come in for criticism from anti-touting groups (most recently the FanFair Alliance). A spokeswoman tells IQ: “We have consistently supported anti-bot legislation, and recently gave evidence to the US Senate Commerce Committee on this subject. This is one of the biggest issues that the ticketing industry faces.

“However, legislation alone cannot solve this. Professor Waterson’s review into the secondary ticket market concluded that event organisers and primary ticketing companies need to develop better technology in the fight against bots, which we fully support.”

FanFair also welcomes the amendment. The group’s campaign manager, Adam Webb, says: “Instinctively, I suspect most people would feel that hacking into a ticket sale with the sole intention of hoovering up huge volumes of inventory to then resell for profit would be illegal.

“Along with enforcement of existing consumer legislation – something that is urgently needed – if this amendment is made law, it would help turn the the tide and ensure that the ticketing market works in favour of fans, rather than touts and the under-regulated secondary platforms they operate from.”

Adams’s amendment will be debated in parliament on 27 October.

 


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