The voice of the UK’s live music industry has published a manifesto of the utmost importance, ahead of next week's Autumn Statement.
Following an open letter by the British registered charity Music Venue Trust to the UK government in September over the “full-blown crisis” small music venues are experiencing – with the UK losing at least one venue per week – another alarm has sounded.
LIVE, Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment, the voice of the UK’s live music industry, has published a manifesto of the utmost importance.
The LIVE Music Manifesto includes an urgent call for government action before the upcoming Autumn Statement, which will announce tax and spending plans for the year ahead.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday 22 November.
The comprehensive manifesto chimes with MVT’s warning that "one hundred and twenty-five venues have shut their doors for live music in the last 12 months, 15.7% of all such spaces in the UK.” The document delivers concrete proposals on issues like the removal of barriers for touring artists, and urges the Chancellor to provide vital financial support to the grassroots music sector.
“The LIVE Music Manifesto launched today presents a huge opportunity for our political leaders to supercharge a cultural and economic powerhouse,” states Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, which represents 3,159 businesses, over 34,000 British artists and 2,000 backstage workers.
“It is estimated that for every 10,000 people at a gig in the UK, there is an additional £1 million spent in other local businesses including restaurants and bars, transport networks, shops, and hotels,” he adds. “It’s crucial that the voice of the live music sector is heard at the next General Election.”
The manifesto highlights five crucial priorities, aimed at safeguarding grassroots music venues and unlocking the economic potential of the wider live music sector:
- “Unleash the economic potential of live music” - Provide urgent financial support, including an extension to grassroots music venues business rates relief and wider hospitality and leisure relief. This means the reintroduction of a lower rate VAT on tickets, the creation of a Live Music Council, and reforming the apprenticeship levy to permit more tailored skills training. “Simple interventions, like the extension of the business rates relief and a return to lower VAT to bring the UK into line with international competitors would transform the sector,” says Collins.
- “Strengthen a safe and secure live music sector” - Rethink the current Bill on safety at venues, known as Martyn’s Law, to ensure any new measures are practical and protect lives.
- “Enable UK artists to tour internationally more easily” - Remove barriers for UK artists to tour, including the introduction a cultural visa waiver for creative workers touring in the EU.
- “Protect fans from ticket touts” - Bringing UK ticketing regulations into line with other progressive music markets. This includes calling on tech companies to stop promoting touts.
- “Build a sustainable live music sector” - The acceleration of the sector’s transition to net zero through funding and information provision to fill any current shortfall.
LIVE has also – very accurately – highlighted that grassroots venues play a pivotal role in developing the future of the live music industry.
“We need to wake up to the reality that the grassroots venues where artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele honed their craft are closing at an alarming rate. We need urgent action from government now, or we risk losing out on future generations of British superstars,” warns Collins.
The UK’s creative sectors are engines of growth, as highlighted in the publication of the Government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision and the Labour Party’s Creative Compact.
The UK’s live music sector generated £5.2 billion (€5.9bn) in 2022 and the summer of 2023 showcased the post-pandemic resurgence with a range of huge festivals, stadiums, and arena shows selling out around the country.
Live music employed more than 228,000 people last year, with a gig held every four minutes.
As a reminder, and according to MVT’s open letter in September, at stake is the loss of 4,000 jobs, 14,250 events, 193,230 performance opportunities, £9 million (€10.3 million) of income for musicians, and £59 million (€67.7 million) in lost direct economic activity.
“You cannot underestimate the importance and value of live music to the UK, both culturally and economically. It is part of the fabric of who we are, producing world class artists and providing enjoyment for millions of people,” says Steve Lamacq, Chair of LIVE. “We need to act now and recognise just how important these venues are, not just as the breeding ground for the next generation of young musicians, but also as proud, creative, hubs for the communities they serve across the country.”
“Without targeted financial support and understanding, we run the immediate risk of seeing hundreds of these venues shutting for good, which would be devastating for fans, artists and local economies.”