Live Music Contents

4Threats to the talent pipeline

‘There is now a lot more money in the business than there ever was, but somehow that is not finding its way back down to the bottom.’ (Tom Gray, Gomez)

92.The UK’s reputation as a destination for live music is in no small part due to the generations of homegrown talent the country has produced. Yet securing the conditions for such talent to thrive is essential for the long-term health of the industry. In 2016, musician Noel Gallagher told the Daily Record:

It was easy to start a band when I was young because there was rehearsal rooms and grotty clubs to play in. Musical equipment was cheap and accessible as not many people bought it. Now, you have to be middle class to be in a band. Where are you going to rehearse? The rehearsal rooms are being turned into flats. Where are you going to play? There’s only two places to play these days, really small clubs or massive arenas, there’s nothing in the middle.176

The Royal Albert Hall’s Artistic and Commercial Director indicated that small venue closures and educational reforms are already having an impact on the Hall’s programme. She told us:

We need the young artists to be coming through so they can perform on our main stage. We do see a lack of young artists coming through to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, and it is a major concern.177

93.While there are many different routes into a career in music, without access to an appropriate education, high-quality facilities or reliable income streams, people from a diverse range of backgrounds will struggle to build viable careers in the industry. It is impossible to know where the next multi-million-selling artist or classical virtuoso will come from, and it is therefore important that young people and musicians have opportunities to develop their talent irrespective of their socioeconomic background.

Music education

94.While not all professional musicians will necessarily have studied a formal musical education, learning an instrument and how to read music from a young age is a fundamental requirement for a career in certain disciplines. Music is compulsory in the national curriculum up to the age of 14; however, we have heard concerns about a “policy clash” in music education, with the consequences of the English Baccalaureate, the rights of Academies to diverge from the national curriculum and local authority funding cuts leading to a “postcode lottery” in the quality of music education.178

The music curriculum

95.A modern music curriculum, closely integrated with the needs of the industry and the opportunities it can provide, is crucial to maximising the impact of music education. We heard concerns from both ends of the spectrum that the current curriculum risks alienating young people by not responding to contemporary genres and production methods, and that expertise in certain classical instruments is at risk of dying out if children do not learn them.179

96.Music education can also equip young people to perform the whole spectrum of jobs in the music industry.180 DJ Target, who remembered his school music lessons being a “sanctuary”, told us:

Music in schools does not just need to be about learning an instrument, because in 2018 there are probably 50 times the number of jobs than there were in the 1980s or 1990s […] You could be a videographer who makes music videos. You could be somebody who is a technician or a sound engineer. There are probably hundreds of jobs that fall within the music industry and I think we should be opening kids’ brains up to that at an early age.181

Many of the jobs in the industry offer attractive prospects for international travel and access to high-profile events; however, there is a risk of a talent drain to other technical industries if young people are not made aware of such opportunities. We were told:

If we take out the spur that showed them that they were interested in music, they will go and get jobs elsewhere. They have lots of access to the gaming industry, they have lots of access to online attractions and entertainment, where is their access to music if you take it out of schools?182

Venues can play a role in this, as evidenced for example by the work of the Roundhouse in north London, which uses its position “outside of a formal education setting” to engage “hard-to-reach young people” through training or access to subsidised facilities.183

97.In evidence to our current inquiry into the ‘Social Impact of Participation in Culture and Sport’, the Minister of State for School Standards, the Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, indicated that the Government will launch a project focused on improving the standard of the compulsory arts curriculum, including music, to ensure more students are equipped and motivated to study these subjects into GCSE.184 In January 2019, the Department for Education announced that an independent panel of experts from the education and music professions will work to produce a model music curriculum for key stages 1, 2 and 3 that supplements, and is consistent with, the programmes of study in the national curriculum.185 It is very important that the role of music in the life of schools is valued by the inspection regime—too little credit is given to teachers who support music in schools, often in their own time.

98.We welcome the Government’s intention to review the music curriculum. The Government’s independent expert panel should engage musicians from different genres, stakeholders from across the music industry, and young people to ensure the new model music curriculum reflects how people make and consume music in the modern age, as well as the industry’s skills-needs now and into the future.

The impact of the EBacc

99.The English Baccalaureate is a school performance measure announced in 2010 by the then Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. It is a combination of subjects that the Government considers important for young people to study at GCSE: English language and literature; maths; the sciences; geography or history and a language. It does not include arts or technical subjects. The Government’s aim is for 90% of GCSE pupils to choose the EBacc subject combination by 2025.186

100.The Schools Minister has been keen to stress that, despite fluctuations, the numbers of students taking GCSE and A-level music have remained broadly stable since the introduction of the EBacc.187 However, many in the music and teaching professions perceive the EBacc’s impact on music education to have been more damaging. A University of Sussex survey found that 59% of nearly 500 schools surveyed thought the EBacc has a negative impact on the provision and uptake of music (compared to 2.5% who considered it to be having a positive impact).188 Likewise, more than 200 organisations have signed the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ ‘Bacc for the future’ campaign asking for the policy to be reviewed and consideration given to the inclusion of arts subjects.189

101.The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries says she considers the decline in the provision of music education “very concerning”, but has suggested that it should not be attributed entirely to the EBacc.190 Indeed, evidence from the Cornwall Music Service Trust, which works across 80% of Cornwall’s schools and is the largest strategic and delivery partner for the Cornwall Music Education Hub, suggested that Academies’ autonomy to devise their own curriculums and pressures on school finances also present challenges to the provision of music education.191 As schools experience pressures on their budgets, it follows that they will prioritise subjects against which they are measured and cut subjects that are less in demand. As the BPI highlighted, this makes music particularly “vulnerable to cuts as it sits outside core subjects but does not have as many entrants at GCSE level.”192

102.Despite the Schools Minister’s assertion that “the EBacc is about social mobility”, the way it works in practice unduly impacts on pupils from deprived backgrounds, or those with lower attainment.193 The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries told us that as the EBacc covers only a limited number of subjects, it leaves pupils free to study arts and creative subjects in their remaining discretionary GCSE options.194 However, Cambridge Assessment’s research has consistently found that pupils living in areas with higher levels of income deprivation, and those with lower attainment, are less likely to study more than seven GCSEs than pupils living in areas with lower levels of deprivation, or higher attainers.195 Likewise, the Musicians’ Union told us:

The EBacc poses the biggest threat to the education of children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, while hubs have a limited amount of funding and cannot pick up the slack for these children.196

103.In 2013 our predecessor Committee recommended in its report on ‘Supporting the creative economy’ that arts be included in the list of approved EBacc subjects, and the concerns we have heard during this inquiry suggest the need is no less pressing now. We repeat the call for arts subjects to be added to the EBacc to ensure all students benefit from a creative education at GCSE.

The work of Music Education Hubs

104.In 2011, the National Plan for Music Education was published by the Department for Education and the then Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. It set out the plan for Music Education Hubs, stating:

Schools cannot be expected to do all that is required of music education alone: a music infrastructure that transcends schools is necessary […] Hubs will augment and support music teaching in schools so that more children experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition and input from professional musicians.197

Arts Council England invests £75 million per annum from the Department for Education in 120 Music Education Hubs.198 The Government has stated that, in 2016–17, more than 700,000 children were taught to play a musical instrument through the hubs, and 89% of schools benefitted from their support.199 However, as Darren Henley acknowledged, assessment of Hubs’ effectiveness should be “about quality and not just quantity”.200 Therefore, although the figures for overall engagement are welcome, it is concerning to hear about “postcode lotteries” in the quality of Hubs’ provision.201

105.It has been suggested that the lack of understanding about where provision is good and where it needs to be improved is partly due to the quality of data that Hubs are required to record and report back to Arts Council England. The Cornwall Music Service Trust states that:

with little guidance from Arts Council England or the DfE on best practice, results are patchy, and dependent on individual practitioner skills, rather than a systematic national development based on research and sharing best practice.202

Although musician Tom Gray from Gomez cautioned against evaluation falling unfairly on under-resourced services, he emphasised the need for a robust, national overview of the state of music education:

What is hard when you are talking about this stuff is that nobody knows. Nobody knows if one music hub is completely failing and another one is doing a good job. No one knows what schools are giving music and what schools are not giving music. No one knows and I think it is brutal and kind of pathetic.203

In response to these concerns, Darren Henley confirmed that the Arts Council is investing its own money “to build quality measures” into the Hub system.204 The Schools Minister also informed us of the Government’s intention to extend the National Plan for Music Education beyond 2020, and to assess the effectiveness of the current plan before doing so.205

106.Music Education Hubs are a valuable resource and we welcome the Government’s commitment to extending the National Plan for Music Education beyond 2020. However, we are concerned that not enough is known about how provision varies between Hubs and not enough emphasis is put on sharing best practice. As part of its review into the effectiveness of the existing National Plan for Music Education, the Government should conduct a thorough study of where provision by Hubs is good and where it could be improved. We recommend that any future plan ensures all Hubs have sufficient financial resources and workplace expertise to perform high quality evaluation of their work and impact, and that improved processes are in place to monitor performance and share best practice.

Sustainable income streams

107.As we discussed in Chapter 1, despite the wealth generated by the music industry, and the importance of live music to musicians’ income, many still struggle to make a living from playing live. Ben Lovett, whose band Mumford & Sons toured the grassroots circuit extensively before releasing their Grammy Award-nominated debut album, told us that the band worked day jobs “for a long time” until the music started to pay. He highlighted the strangeness of “working just to be able to support your career” and argued that “there are not many industries where we are trying to encourage growth in a sector where we are saying, ‘Oh, at the same time do you guys mind spending 40 hours a week doing something else?’”206 Similarly, many musicians rely on financial support for family and friends, leading UK Music to state:

We do not want the music industry to become the preserve of the bank of Mum and Dad.207

108.The way that record labels invest in talent development has changed, which has impacted artists’ income streams. Tom Gray told us that development deals, which would pay artists to tour and hone their craft, disappeared in the mid-2000s and that labels’ financial support for musicians doing loss-making tours has also declined. He argued that for major labels “the idea of long-term investment in their own pipeline has more or less disappeared.”208 The Head of Music at the Roundhouse suggested that dominant players are not investing in talent development since rather than “looking for a long-term investment for the artist, they are looking for what their shareholders will see at the end of a year.”209 In these circumstances, she worries “about how we recreate that support system for young emerging artists”.210

109.It is in the industry’s own long-term interests to support the talent pipeline, even if doing so does not deliver immediate returns. Yet we asked whether enough of the money generated by the music industry finds its way down to the grassroots and were told: “It is a flat no and there is no mechanism for that.”211 For example, DHP Family questioned whether PRS for Music does enough to support the grassroots, observing that “many small bands never even collect PRS, but small venues are still forced to pay. In essence small local bands and venues are subsidising the likes of Elton John and Bruno Mars.”212 The Minister suggested that a comparison may be drawn with how other industries support talent development:

In the same way as we expect football and the premiership to do more for grassroots football, perhaps we could expect the pop music industry to do more for grassroots music.213

110.Consideration should be given to the role that major music businesses could play in helping to develop the production and performing artist talent that they will later come to rely upon. In football, the Government through Sport England, along with the Football Association and the Premier League, jointly fund the improvement of community facilities through the Football Foundation. Further to this, professional clubs in the top three divisions in England fund the identification and development of young talent, aged from eight to 18, through the Elite Player Performance Plan. Similar schemes could be developed in the creative sector and funded either through the Arts Council or a new body, which could work independently of both Government and the industry, but receive financial support from them. The Music Venue Trust is already championing such an approach by asking leaders in its sector to sign up to support a proposed Pipeline Investment Fund.214

111.The online streaming of music through platforms such as YouTube and Spotify is also integral to this problem. The digital age provides significant opportunities for artists to distribute their music and reach new audiences; however, the move away from physical sales, and the relatively low remuneration paid by streaming sites, means both labels and musicians struggle to make sufficient returns from their creative output. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry argues that there is a “value gap” in that:

User upload services, such as YouTube, are heavily used by music consumers and yet do not return fair value to those who are investing in and creating the music.215

Likewise, UK Music has called on YouTube to do “fairer deals” and argues that:

The ability for creators to make ends meet is compounded by YouTube. It is the most popular music service in the world, but due to the shameful rates the Google-owned service pays a track needs to be streamed over 50 million times before artists can earn the average UK wage.216

112.The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries stated that she is not satisfied with the current remuneration that platforms offer artists. However, she acknowledged that there have been some improvements and welcomed the European Copyright Directive as “a means of getting artists greater remuneration and greater control over their rights.”217 Likewise, the Musicians’ Union told us:

The Copyright Directive would be helpful. It is about the money filtering through from Google down to the performer and not getting stuck either at the top of the chain or when it hits labels and publishers and they only pay out a tiny percentage to the artists on their books.218

113.Structural problems within the music industry limit artists’ ability to earn a sustainable income, and that in turn risks excluding sections of society from a career in music. The industry needs to ensure a greater proportion of its revenues is channelled into supporting artists at the early stages of their careers. We recommend that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and UK Music convene a taskforce this year comprised of musicians’ representatives and corporate stakeholders to explore how the industry may be supported and incentivised to invest more effectively in supporting grassroots talent.

Accessing employment opportunities after Britain leaves the European Union

114.Many in the industry are concerned about the potential impact of Britain leaving the European Union on musicians’ ability to make a living from touring. More than one-third of musicians who responded to surveys by the Incorporated Society of Musicians stated that they receive half, or more than half, of their income from working in the EU.219 Tom Gray explained how the touring landscape has changed over recent decades:

People think that because back in the 1960s people used to tour in Europe it was fine, but here is the thing: there used to be a massive national touring circuit in the UK. You could do 60 to 70 shows regionally and build up and grow and get big enough that you had enough money to be able to go to Europe. You had already made it, effectively, when you left the country. But that has disappeared now. People have made Europe part of their low-level touring system, so if you are a young band, you will do five gigs around the country and then you will go to Benelux and Germany, but that is going to go. You are going to scythe off half their income.220

Often job opportunities in the industry come up at short notice, and leading cultural institutions such as the Southbank Centre are concerned that complicated visa arrangements could impact their ability to book talent at the last minute.221

115.Many are therefore calling for the introduction of an EU-wide touring visa, which will be “affordable, multi-entry [and] admin-light” to enable musicians to tour easily after Brexit.222 The arrangements for moving musical equipment around Europe are just as urgent, and there is a concern that the reintroduction of temporary customs documents, or carnets, could lead to increased costs and bureaucracy that “would have a crippling effect on bands”.223 Similarly, the Production Services Association cautioned that a quota system for road haulage “would force any tours in the EU to choose suppliers from outside our borders,” which would mean that “the rock ‘n roll trucking business, invented in the UK, would be lost forever”.224

116.Ensuring frictionless travel for musicians, touring personnel and their equipment is essential for musicians to continue to access work opportunities abroad, and for foreign artists to tour to the UK. We support the industry’s calls for the introduction of an EU-wide touring visa, which the Government should pursue in its future relationship with the European Union. We also urge the Government to resist any arrangements that would result in the reintroduction of temporary customs documents for touring equipment.

117.We have also heard about the potential impact of changes to the UK’s immigration policies on the music workforce. Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama told us that around 20% of conservatoire students and 10% of total conservatoire staff come from mainland Europe—with the proportion of teaching staff coming from the EU “considerably higher”. Moreover, it says that “the input from EU teachers is vital in supporting UK students who wish to establish careers in mainland Europe.”225

118.The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told us:

We are carefully considering a range of options for the future immigration system and will make decisions on the future immigration system based on evidence and engagement. That is why we have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU. The Government will have plenty of time to take account of the MAC’s advice when making any final decisions about our future immigration system, which would not be implemented until 2021.226

However, when the Migration Advisory Committee published its report in September 2018, it made no explicit mention at all of the creative industries and cultural workers, let alone specific sub-sectors such as music and film—a situation UK Music described as “very disappointing”.227

119.The Migration Advisory Committee did, however, recommend that the annual salary threshold of £30,000 for tier 2 visas for skilled workers be retained.228 In its White Paper on “The UK’s future skills-based immigration system”, the Government did not commit to retaining this salary level, but said it would “engage businesses and employers as to what salary threshold should be set.”229

120.In our inquiry on ‘The potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market’, we concluded “that salary levels are a crude proxy for value and fail to recognise the central role that workers from the EU and beyond play” and recommended “that the Government explores ways in which commercial value, and value to specific sectors of the economy, can be factored into the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.”230 The evidence to this inquiry supports that conclusion. The Musicians’ Union told us that the majority of its members earn less than the threshold for a skilled worker:

Even if you are employed full time in an orchestra, you might be on less than £30,000 a year. They are the most stable jobs that musicians are likely to have and they are funded organisations.231

Tom Gray argued that the loss of touring opportunities, combined with the salary requirements, would put musicians in a “Catch-22” situation:

If you cut off half of somebody’s income and they are already below and they are getting half their income from Europe, how is that going to work?232

121.Given the Migration Advisory Committee’s failure to mention the creative industries in its report, it is important that the Government gives due consideration to the needs of the creative industries when formulating its post-Brexit immigration policy. We welcome the fact that the Government will undertake further consultation before deciding on the salary threshold for skilled workers; however, we maintain the view that salary is not an accurate reflection of value to the country’s cultural life or economy. We repeat our call for the Government to develop an immigration policy that recognises the broader contribution individuals make, beyond their salary level. We also ask the Government to detail in its response to this report how it will engage with the music industry and consider the industry’s views in the formulation of its immigration policy.

176Rock star Noel Gallagher talks about why Scotland has always been at the heart of his career”, Daily Record, 26 April 2016

178 Musicians’ Union (LMU 0037), UK Music (LMU 0047) and Cornwall Music Service Trust (LMU 0060)

179 Qq246, 293 [Jeff Horton and Lucy Noble]

180 Music education also has many wider benefits for schools and pupils, as we will explore in greater depth in our report into the ‘Social Impact of Participation and Sport’.

182 Q247 [Mark Davyd]

183 The Roundhouse (LMU 0041)

184 Oral evidence taken on 12 December 2018, HC (2017–19) 734, Qq278, 313

185Government backs young musicians”, Department for Education press release, 11 January 2019

186 Department for Education, English Baccalaureate (EBacc), accessed 13 December 2018

187 Oral evidence taken on 12 December 2018, HC (2017–19) 734, Q292

189 Bacc for the future, accessed 13 December 2018

192 BPI (LMU 0045)

193 Oral evidence taken on 12 December 2018, HC (2017–19) 734, Q292

196 Musicians’ Union (LMU 0037)

197 Department for Education and Department for Culture, Media and Sport, The importance of music: a national plan for music education, (25 November 2011) p 10

199 “Record numbers learning instruments in class thanks to music hubs, Department for Education and Arts Council England press release, 24 October 2018

205 Oral evidence taken on 12 December 2018, HC (2017–19) 734, Q295–98

207 Q296 [Tom Kiehl]

209 Q340 [Jane Beese]

210 Q313 [Jane Beese]

211 Q339 [Tom Gray]

212 DHP Family (LMU 0051)

215 International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, CONNECTING WITH MUSIC: Music consumer insight report, (September 2017), p 3

216 UK Music, Securing the Talent Pipeline, (September 2018), p 3 and p 12

218 Q339 [Naomi Pohl]

219 Incorporated Society of Musicians, Musicians and Brexit, (July 2018), p 2

221 Southbank Centre (LMU 0063)

228 Migration Advisory Committee, EEA migration in the UK: Final report, (September 2018)

229 Home Office, The UK’s future skills-based immigration system, Cm 9722, December 2018, p 16

230 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Second Report of Session 2017–19, The potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market, HC 365, para 53

231 Q357 [Naomi Pohl]

Published: 19 March 2019