The UK music industry is doing well, but when things are going well that is precisely the time when we need to think about the future and invest in the future.
While the immediate outlook is promising, there is growing evidence of a looming crisis in the music industry’s talent pipeline – a pipeline that we rely on for future stars and one that is a vital part of our industry’s eco-system.
That’s why UK Music launched a major report called Securing Our Talent Pipeline (2018), which we took to all the major party conferences.
The report found that successful acts like Ed Sheeran continue to help exports soar by 13 per cent to £2.5 billion. His third album ÷ (Divide) was the biggest selling album in the world in 2017.
According to Pollstar magazine, UK acts Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Sir Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran and the Rolling Stones all featured in the top ten worldwide tours last year. A fantastic achievement but all bar one of these five acts released their debut single in the last century.
A UK Music analysis of major UK festivals over a 20-year period indicates an act headlining the likes of Glastonbury or Reading in 1995 can, on average, expect to have released their debut album 7 years previously. Nowadays, it’s more like 16 years.
It is important that established artists continue to make music and inspire fans yet if we want to produce the stars of the future, we’ve got to invest in talent for the future.
We are a nation that has a natural musical talent with education, facilities and finance all playing an important role in unlocking careers. Real obstacles in each of these areas however do exist.
According to a UK Music survey 17 per cent of music creators were educated at fee paying schools, compared with 7 per cent across the population as a whole. This matters because 50 per cent of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools is a mere 15 per cent.
On venues, 35 per cent of music venues have closed in the past decade, significantly reducing the chances for up and coming musicians to develop their skills in front of audiences and grow fan bases.
On access to finance to pursue a career in music, UK Music‘s recent survey of music creators also revealed that 46 per cent received financial help from family and friends at some point in the development of their professional career.
Google’s YouTube needs to do fairer deals. At present, creators can expect to receive as little as £0.00054 per stream from the service.
These are just a few snapshots of the challenges creating a blockage in the music industry talent pipeline. This report focuses on creative talent yet the recommendations put forward will contribute to the development of the workforce as a whole.
It is important that the Government plays a key role in working with the music industry in overcoming this. Collaboration is vital. If we don’t work to fix the blockage in the talent pipeline now, we will remain stuck.