Newsletter: Labour’s action plan for the creative industries & more

15.03.2024.

Sign up here to receive LIVE’s bi-weekly newsletter direct to your inbox!

Labour Creatives event unveils party’s action plan for our sector 

Labour leader, Keir Starmer, supported by his Shadow Chancellor, Culture Secretary, Education Secretary and their teams, has set out his party’s action plan for the creative industries.  LIVE was pleased to receive advanced sight of the plan and provide feedback on proposals covering many of our main asks.

That includes two of LIVE’s five priorities as mapped out in our manifesto – EU touring and secondary ticketing.  On touring, the party is committed to seeking arrangements with the EU to facilitate easier touring and cultural exchange.  Meanwhile on ticketing, Labour is committed to tackling touting by capping resale prices and giving the CMA the powers it needs to regulate resale platforms.  In addition, the party’s proposals on skills, freelancers, growth and universality all align with LIVE’s views.  

Commenting on the plan, Jon Collins said, “LIVE is delighted to see a package of positive actions set out in Labour’s plans for the creative industries.  Proposals relating to our teams and audiences will allow more people to enjoy more shows.  While plans around touring will help us to develop the next generation of world class talent”.

Budget ’24: great news for orchestras and theatres, but what about the wider sector?

The efforts of LIVE board member the Association of British Orchestras, supported by LIVE, came to fruition on 6 March when the Chancellor announced a permanent extension of tax relief for Orchestras at 45%.  LIVE welcomes this important support to an orchestral sector currently under significant pressure due to the costs of touring post-Brexit and reduced funding from local authorities. Along with the announcement of parallel tax relief rates for theatres, museums, and galleries (at 40%), the Budget therefore represents a much-needed acknowledgement of the significant contribution that the music industry and the wider creative ecosystem offers to our economy and culture. 

But there is more work to be done here. Orchestras’ stalwart attempts at international touring, a vital contribution to our music exports valued at 2.5 billion, continue to be consistently thwarted by bureaucratic red tape and administrative costs. In order for orchestras to continue to promote British musicianship abroad, and support our reputation as an artistic powerhouse, the Government needs to facilitate EU touring via a cultural accord. 

What’s more, it is not just orchestras that deserve relief in order to continue to deliver the economic returns and identity-building tools from which we all benefit.  The £1bn pledged to support UK creative industries, while welcome, excludes the remainder of the live music ecosystem.  With grassroots music venues and festivals under particular pressure, LIVE will continue to push for beneficial reforms such as a VAT reduction on ticket sales or revised and extended tax relief. 

A1 Forms: Keeley and Clancarty meet with Government

Leading LIVE supporters, Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister, and the Earl of Clancarty met with Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Nigel Huddleston MP, this week to discuss progress in improving the provision of A1 forms, in particular for self-employed workers in the music industry touring in the European Economic Area.  With artists sometimes seeing nearly half their fee withheld in the absence of a form, it is critical that HMRC gets back to delivering A1s to the expected timescale. 

While sympathetic, HMRC were keen to set out what they have been doing to speed up the process including clearing the backlog.  They are confident that they are on course to get to their 15 and 40 day targets for online and postal applications respectively.  The original pledge was to achieve this by April this year which now seems unlikely given the feedback we are receiving on ongoing delays.  LIVE will keep forwarding examples of delays and monitoring timings to ensure HMRC does, ultimately, get back on track. 

Ticketing State of Play 2024: the emergent consumer patterns shaping the festival landscape

There’s much to discover in Big Ticket Items: ‘Ticketing State of Play’ 2024 produced by ticketing platforms Tixel and Bolster. With festival cancellations passing twenty already this year, this research provides welcome insights into consumer habits amidst the shifting winds shaping the festival landscape post-Covid, post-Brexit and mid-recession. Consumers’ responses conveyed reassurance: the appetite for festivals is still strong, with three quarters of respondents attending more festivals last year than they did the year before, and fears about public health risks are lower than ever. But a few new and consequential patterns came to light, driven by the larger forces at work in the economy. More concerned about spending (over nine in ten reported experiencing an increase in everyday costs), audiences are plumping for well-known, sure-fire options with name-recognition and famous headliners – rather than taking a chance on a newly-established event or one they haven’t been to before. Not only are many (one in four) waiting significantly longer to buy, respondents are also more uncertain after they’ve actually bought the ticket, often seeking refunds and resale options later on. Resale was a real sticking point for respondents: eight out of ten reported that they’d value a resale option, which in turn would give them more confidence to buy early. Salient observations like these are vital to shaping the future of those grassroots and independent festivals bearing the brunt of the current economic challenges. 

Addressing structural inequality in the industry: LIVE Talks x Power Up ‘Equality and Equity in the LIVE Sector’ now available online

Earlier this month we brought together four pioneering Power Up alumni with broadcaster Ras Kwame and stakeholders from across the industry to discuss the structural disadvantages facing Black music practitioners in the industry, the progress that’s already been made, and the work that remains to be done. In a majority white industry where the work of Black professionals continues to be overlooked and career progression inhibited, we must look to amplify these voices and the platforms like Power Up which support them. LIVE will continue to take steps wherever we can to address problems such as racial profiling at events and the institutional distrust of Black promoters. Hear from our speakers Hannah Shogbola, Neicee Oakley, Tumi Williams, and Adem Holness, in the LIVE Talks recording, available online here. Thanks to our speakers and Power Up for joining us. 

LIVE Talks would not be possible without the ongoing support of our committed partners: AEG, Kilimanjaro Live; Live Nation; Serious; SJM and Utilita Arena Birmingham. We thank them for their commitment to promoting and sharing insight and good practice across our sector.

Member updates  

FAC (Featured Artists Coalition) Updates: 
— Last month, FAC launched their new event, FAC Friends & Family, a bimonthly social where PRO members can meet the FAC team, as well as fellow artists and colleagues from across the music industry.
— FAC CEO David Martin, and FAC board members Aluna Francis and Kelli-Leigh spoke to Sky News about the struggle for women to be recognised, and how FAC is disrupting the status quo from the inside.
FAC 101: Distributing your music – FAC is excited to announce that Head of TuneCore, UK/IE/AU/NZ, Sarah Wilson will be joining them for their March 101 online session. She will be giving an overview of the distribution landscape and the work that TuneCore is currently focused on – Wednesday 27th March, 18:00 – 19:00 GMT, Online – via Zoom.
— FAC is back with another FAC Insights, and this month they are thrilled to hear from Eunice Obianagha, Head of Diversity at UK Music. Eunice speaks about her experiences in the music industry, her role at UK Music, and her journey to becoming the Head Of Diversity and founder of ENSPIRE Management.
— FAC is thrilled to be back at The Great Escape in Brighton this year. They will be joining the Ivors Academy, MMF, MPG, and the MU as the Council of Music Makers on Thursday 16th May for a full day of panels, workshops, and insights.
Save the date: Artist & Manager Awards 2024 – The FAC and MMF are delighted to announce that the Artist & Manager Awards will return to London’s Bloomsbury Big Top on Thursday 21st November 2024. Ticket sales for 2024’s event will go live in the coming weeks – with the first winners to be revealed soon after.

MVT (Music Venues Trust) Updates: 
— MVT are looking to appoint two new team members, in Admin Support and England Coordinator roles. Importantly, we are looking for people who can demonstrate they are committed to the Grassroots Music Venue sector. These roles require an understanding of the vital role that Grassroots Music Venues play as cultural, social and economic hubs within their communities and their contribution to the UK music industry.

CPA (Concert Promoters Association) Updates: 
— At the CPA’s recent AGM, Santana Guerout of Band on the Wall, the award winning live music venue and national promoter, was elected to the Executive Committee.

AIF Updates 
— Steve Heap will retire from his position as General Secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers on April 2 2024, handing over the operation to John Rostron and the team at the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).
— UK festival cancellations: 21 UK festivals have now announced a postponement, cancellation or complete closure in 2024. Cotswolds-based Nibley Festival has announced that this year’s event will be its last, soon after Bradford’s Bingley Festival announced that its 2024 edition will not go ahead. Promoters of both festivals have cited rapidly rising production costs as the reason why running their event is no longer viable. The timing of this milestone suggests that the number of festival cancellations this year will far outstrip 2023, when a total 36 festivals cancelled before they were due to take place, according to research from the Association of Independent Festivals.