Four ways the music industry can nurture the next Ed Sheeran

Four things need to change to ensure the UK’s thriving music scene continues to prosper. That’s according to UK Music, the body that represents artists, labels, venues, songwriters and studios.

In a new report, Securing Our Talent Pipeline, UK Music says there’s reason to celebrate but no room for complacency.

First the good news: the music industry grew by 6% last year and is now worth £4.4 billion to the economy thanks in part to established acts such as Ed Sheeran, Sir Paul McCartney and Adele.

But now for a word of caution: it can’t all be about Ed, Sir Paul and Adele et al forever. We need to be thinking about where the next major artist will come and invest in emerging talent.

“Lucky breaks do not happen by accident,” the report says. “They are the result of years of hard work, underpinned by having an education system that supports music and creativity, as well ensuring that we have the right infrastructure in place and targeted funding and investment.”

The report calls for these changes.

Action to stop the decline in music education

Music education is at risk of becoming the sole preserve of those at fee-paying schools and is in in marked decline at primary and secondary state schools. This is due to a lack of funding and the perception, among some misguided folks in education, that creative subjects such as music just aren’t as important as maths and English.

The latest GCSE results reveal a 7.4 per cent drop in the number of pupils taking the subject. Sadly, one fifth of schools did not offer GCSE Music last year at all.

UK Music wants more funding for music education and a commitment to ensure that cultural subjects such as music aren’t squeezed out of our state schools.

Action to stop the closure of music venues

The stats on this are pretty alarming. In the past decade 35% of music venues have closed, reducing the chances of emerging artists developing their performance skills.

“Supporting grassroots venues is key to maintaining the UK’s vibrant and diverse music scene, as well as ensuring we have the talent pipeline to maintain Britain’s position as a global force in music,” the report says.

Rehearsal spaces and recording studios (hit by whopping hikes in business rates) are also at risk. The report recommends reviews into: business rates to ensure studios receive a fair valuation; subsidies for music venues; and licensing laws.

Create more opportunities to access finance

“If pursuing a career in music becomes the preserve of those who can rely on the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’, when it comes to finding future talent, we will be drawing water from an increasingly small well,” the report says.

We all know the music industry is a tough game, that’s why 46 per cent of musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists draw on family and friends for financial support at some point in their professional music career.

But there are ways to support up and coming artists to ensure those with talent – not just relatives with deep pockets – are given the opportunity to develop. The report calls on the Government to partner with the industry in tipping point programmes like PRS Foundation’s Momentum Talent Development Fund to incentivise further investment.

And last but not least, Google’s YouTube needs to do more

At present, creators can expect to receive as little as £0.00054 per stream from the service. The paltry sums speak for themselves. For artists to be able to keep creating, they need to get a fairer share of revenues from massive multinational platforms such as YouTube.

Read the full report HERE

Read more on the fight to stop the decline of music venues HERE

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