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UK Music CEO Michael Dugher talks progress in the battle to save grassroots music venues

Since taking over as CEO of UK Music in 2017, Michael Dugher has been tirelessly campaigning for better protection of the country’s grassroot music venues and banging the drum for the huge contribution live music makes to the UK economy

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05/08/2019: Since taking over as CEO of UK Music in 2017, Michael Dugher has been tirelessly campaigning for better protection of the country’s grassroot music venues and banging the drum for the huge contribution live music makes to the UK economy

It’s been a little over two years since former Labour MP Michael Dugher took the helm of music industry trade association UK Music, and approximately 12 months since PSNEurope sat down with him to mull over the state of the nation’s live music sector. From the moment he was appointed CEO, taking over from the outgoing Jo Dipple (now SVP public affairs at Live Nation Entertainment), his mission statement was clear: to protect and nurture grassroots music venues up and down the country, and to ensure that the UK’s thriving live music sector continues to flourish. Key to succeeding on this front is his ability to communicate the message that, while the UK’s live music business is booming, its grassroots venues have been taking a walloping for the past decade. And if serious measures aren’t taken to protect them, the ripple effect could destroy the excellent work being done across the sector as a whole.

To contextualise the stark contrast between the grassroots scene and the rest of the live music market, let’s take a look at some enlightening figures. A 2017 UK Music report found that live music contributes around £1 billion in GVA to the UK economy, generates exports of £80 million and employs 28,659 people. On top of that, live music GVA has grown by 50 per cent since 2012, while three of the top four most popular music arenas in the world are in the UK. However, it also revealed that 35 per cent of the UK’s grassroots venues have closed during the past decade, in most cases due to severe hikes in business rates (the 2017 revaluation has amounted to a 31 per cent increase in payable business rates at grassroots music venues with rateable values growing by 25 per cent).

Read the full story on PSNEurope

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