The UK’s Commons Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published its report on the future for the UK’s live-music industry, suggesting that despite a “boom” in concert and festival attendance, there are “stark challenges” for the market. While the report is focused on this one particular country, we think there are plenty of useful lessons in it for other countries around the world, thinking about how to grow their live markets (and, of course, vice versa: the UK can learn from those countries’ successes).
There are four key headlines coming out of the DCMS report. First: a warning to the public not to buy or sell tickets through secondary site Viagogo, which remains a pariah with British politicians in particular – refusing to turn up to committee hearings didn’t help that reputation. “We believe that Viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law,” claimed the report.
It also highlights discrimination against ‘urban’ music, suggesting that black British artists and their audiences are being unfairly targeted by police. “Local councils are failing to support urban music, with venues demonstrating unfounded concerns over licensing,” added the report. “The Committee calls for cross-departmental action by Government to develop guidance for licensing authorities, police forces and music venues on risk management to ensure that urban music acts are not unfairly targeted.”
The report also delivers a warning about the wave of closures of music venues, with rising rents and business rates highlighted as a particular problem. “The Government has failed to act promptly to stem the tide of the closures happening on a scale unprecedented in other cultural sectors, a development that presents a significant and urgent challenge to the music industry,” it claimed, while also recommending a new taskforce to explore “how the music industry may be supported and incentivised to invest more effectively in supporting grassroots talent” – that means challenging the industry itself to “ensure that a greater proportion of its revenues is channelled into supporting artists at the early stages of their careers”.
The full report is worth a read, whether you’re in the UK or elsewhere. And it sits nicely alongside Sound Diplomacy’s recently launched ‘Music Cities Manual’, which outlines that company’s views on how music can increase the economic, social and cultural growth of cities – as well as case studies of those doing it well. There’s also (albeit a few years old now) a report called ‘The Mastering of a Music City’ put out in 2015 by the IFPI and Music Canada.