Music Manifesto Given Resounding Seal Of Approval At Labour Party Conference

09.10.2023: UK Music’s Manifesto for Music was given a resounding seal of approval at an event in Liverpool that was organised to urge politicians and policymakers to do more to support the UK music industry.

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09.10.2023: UK Music’s Manifesto for Music was given a resounding seal of approval at an event in Liverpool that was organised to urge politicians and policymakers to do more to support the UK music industry.

At a packed Labour Party Conference fringe event, UK Music Chair Lord Tom Watson, introduced the panel line-up, which included Shadow Music Minister Barbara Keeley, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music Chair and Shadow Minister Kevin Brennan, Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan and Head of UNESCO City of Music at Culture Liverpool Kevin McManus.

Discussing the event’s theme, “How Can a Labour Government Protect Our Music Industry?”, Barbara Keeley MP opened the discussion by praising the “excellent” manifesto and saying: “We should celebrate the music industry, but there are challenges.”

She said Labour understood the vital importance of the UK music industry for local and national identity, for the UK’s soft power, for health and wellbeing, as well as the economy.

The Shadow Music Minister said her team were already pushing for a number of changes that were in the manifesto, including a new Cultural Touring Agreement and the prioritisation of music in schools.

Barbara added: “If the UK is going to continue to be a powerhouse for music, then it is essential that the sector is supported through a series of challenges.

“Music can instil hope in a country where it feels so often that hope is lacking.”

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan said it was crucial to fund music events properly and talked about the huge boost that hosting Eurovision had given to Liverpool.

She spoke about her fears for the talent pipeline in the creative industries and said: “I look at Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham and wonder where are they coming from now?”.

Talking about how music has boosted Liverpool’s revival over the past two decades, Claire said: “Culture is absolutely at the heart of our regeneration. You can feel it. This city has put culture at its heart for twenty years. It hasn’t deviated from that.”

All Party Parliamentary Group on Music Chair and musician Kevin Brennan MP warned the Government was “completely wrong” to see the profit-making creative industries and the subsidised arts sector as two different things, saying: “It’s the same ecology.”

He added: “So, I’m glad the Manifesto for Music talks a lot about the importance of grassroots venues and supporting them. They are the research and development part of the music industry and they are under threat.”

Kevin also talked about the importance of the music industry to boost jobs and growth, saying: “It’s an essential part of our economy. If you have a growth agenda, then the UK music industry has to be a central part of that growth agenda for Labour in government”.

The Cardiff MP also stressed the importance of clearing the barriers to musicians and crew touring the EU.

He rounded off his remarks talking about artificial intelligence and its impact on the sector. Kevin said it was vital human creators were properly rewarded for their work, saying: “We need to protect our copyright framework, but make sure it does generate rewards for our creators and musicians.”

Head of UNESCO City of Music at Culture Liverpool Kevin McManus said: “There’s no music sector and no music industry if we don’t support musicians and music creators.”

He outlined how the city’s music board supported talent and skills development and work being done with the Black Music Action Group to boost diversity in the city’s music community.

Kevin said the manifesto recommendation on protecting music spaces was very important. “You need those venues to start people’s careers and inspire young musicians.”

Opening the event to questions, UK Music Chair Tom Watson said a key issue for a future Labour government would be figuring out what it could do for music education and the talent pipeline with the financial constraints it could face.

Kevin Brennan said one possible solution could see schools only allowed to secure an outstanding inspection rating if they ensured creative subjects were a priority.

Barbara Keeley said ensuring music teachers could get bursaries in the same way as other teachers could help boost the number of music teachers.

Musicians’ Union general Secretary Naomi Pohl made the point from the audience that music provision in schools was a “postcode lottery” in terms of what parents paid for lessons, threaten the which threatens the diversity of musical talent.

Responding to a question about the role of collecting societies PPL and PRS for Music (both UK Music members), Kevin Brennan said the work of the two bodies was “vitally important” in distributing millions of pounds to musicians. He added: “What they do is an absolute lifeline for musicians.”

Kevin highlighted the All-Party Parliamentary Group report, Let The Music Move: A New Deal for Touring, which he said could be the basis of trying to solve the issue of the barriers musicians and crew face touring the EU.

Answering a question on how a future Labour government might deal with rip-off secondary ticketing, Barbara Keeley said was supportive of measures to regulate secondary ticketing sites and it was an area “where we must do much more work on” to stop people being “fleeced”.

Kevin Brennan said the Labour team was “very aware” of the importance of supporting freelancers in the music industry and highlighted former Music Producers’ Guild and award-winning producer Olga FitzRoy’s “Selfie Leave” campaign, which was supported by UK Music.

Among those in the audience were former UK Music CEO and Undertones frontman Feargal Sharkey and Mercury Prize-winning songwriter and Ivors Academy Chair Tom Gray.

UK Music members attending the fringe meeting included Naomi Pohl and Dave Webster (Musicians’ Union), Jo Twist and Beth Sidwell (BPI), Paul Craig (MMF), and Paul Mortimer (Ivors Academy). They were joined by LIVE Chief Executive Jon Collins, and former MPG Executive Director Olga FitzRoy.

UK Music Chair Tom Watson rounded off the event by thanking the audience and panellists. He concluded: “I spend a lot of time thinking what a good music policy looks like.

“To me, the real test is that when a government leaves office are more people writing music, making music, producing music, listening to and publishing music than when they entered office.

“We think we have got a blueprint in our manifesto to make sure that can happen whoever wins the next election. I have personal opinions on that – I just want a government that loves music.”

Read UK Music’s Manifesto for Music here.

Images for the event can be found here.

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