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Music: Contribution to the UK Economy

Volume 630: debated on Friday 3 November 2017

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Rebecca Harris.)

I tweeted yesterday that I was leading a debate in the House on music, and was asked whether I would be doing so in song. I am afraid my singing abilities are restricted to one genre, the warbling and melancholic kind normally reserved for a certain hour of the night—the sort of songs that give rise to the joke about the Irish boomerang, which never comes back but sings about how much it wants to.

First, I want to thank key figures and organisations in the music industry who are true champions of this vibrant sector, and whose work has, in large part, led to this debate.

I am sure Members across the House will join me in thanking UK Music, which is working at the forefront of the industry to ensure its success now and in the future. I pay tribute in particular to UK Music chair Andy Heath, who has done a magnificent job in bringing all the component parts of the industry together since the foundation of UK Music nearly 10 years ago, and to former UK Music chief executives Feargal Sharkey and Jo Dipple, who have made an immense contribution to the profile of the music sector, and who continue to work in the industry ensuring it can speak with one voice to policymakers. I also could not forget, because he would not allow me to do so, the good work of the current UK Music chief executive, the former Member for Barnsley East, Michael Dugher, who is leading the organisation through a very interesting but unpredictable time for the sector—similar to the situation in his previous role before leaving to take up his post. We wish him well in his work.

I also want to offer thanks to all the individual members—the sum of the parts—of UK Music: the Association of Independent Music, the British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors, the BPI, the Featured Artists Coalition, the Music Managers Forum, the Music Publishers Association, the Music Producers Guild, the Musicians’ Union, Phonographic Performance Limited, PRS for Music and the UK Live Music Group. We benefit greatly from their knowledge and expertise when contributing to debates such as this.

UK Music’s “Measuring Music” and “Wish You Were Here” reports make a compelling case for the importance of our music sector. The reports show the UK music industry contributed £4.4 billion to the economy in 2016, up 6% on 2015. There are now more than 140,000 people employed across the industry, with year-on-year growth of 19% since 2015, and more people than ever before are attending festivals and gigs, with an incredible 31 million people attending live music events in 2016. These figures are testament to the remarkable success, and indeed the resilience, of the UK music sector in what are very uncertain economic times.

Is my hon. Friend aware of form 696? It is a risk assessment form for live events in the capital that unfairly targets grime music and other urban acts. Will he join me in calling on the Met police to use the Mayor of London’s review to scrap form 696 and to support a more proportionate system of ensuring safety and security at live events which are so successful and contribute positively to the UK’s economy?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend’s point. I was going to mention that later, but she gives me the opportunity to say that I know that that matter has been raised with the Mayor of London, and it is certainly being raised across the industry. I had intended to mention it today because it is a hugely important issue, particularly for music in London.

Anyone who appreciates music will also appreciate the fact that the Ricoh Arena in Coventry is a wonderful venue and that wonderful musical events are held there. Also, in passing, will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the great Fats Domino, who passed away a few days ago?

I will indeed. Whatever vintage we are, we can all appreciate the genius of Fats Domino. I also think it is fair to say that the music at the Ricoh in Coventry is definitely better than the football there.

I want to highlight the global success of the industry, and its impressive achievements in driving tourism and generating export revenues. The UK music industry generated export revenues of £2.5 billion in 2016. That is a huge contribution to UK exports, and indeed to Exchequer revenues, and this will be increasingly important as the UK leaves the EU. At home, 823,000 overseas music tourists attended gigs and festivals here in 2016. That is an enormous credit to our myriad festivals and live music events, from the world-famous Glastonbury—where my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) was the star turn—to the Westfield Street music festival in St Helens, where my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens South and Whiston (Ms Rimmer) and I were definitely not such star turns.

The hon. Gentleman mentions international music festivals. Would he like to pay tribute to the organisers of the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, which brings international acts to the city? Does he share my concern that visa restrictions following Brexit could put at risk such wonderful events?

I am happy to commend the organisers of that festival. I am hugely fond of Celtic and traditional Irish music and I have been involved in it all my life. I will come on to the hon. Lady’s point about the potential consequences of Brexit a little later, if she will allow me.

There is cause for celebration, but we in this House must remain acutely aware of the many threats to the music industry’s success. The entrepreneurial and creative nature of the music industry means that there are many small businesses, as well as individual freelancers, operating in the sector. That includes independent record companies, studios and music venues. Let us take music venues as an example. Across the UK, an estimated 35% of grassroots music venues have closed down over the past decade, including some in my own constituency. That is hundreds of small businesses that have folded, and thousands of missed opportunities for young artists and performers. Many venues have closed down as a result of developers moving into an area to build flats and houses nearby.

In my constituency, we recently had a successful campaign to save Womanby Street, which is a street of live music venues. As a result of the threat of developers moving in and trying to get the council to issue noise abatement orders, we managed to get the Welsh Government to change national planning policy to allow for the agent of change. Would my hon. Friend like to see that development across the UK?

Yes, absolutely. My hon. Friend makes a very pertinent point, which leads me on to say that many venues have closed down as a result of developers moving in. When that happens, the venues, many of which have operated successfully and without issue for decades, become vulnerable to complaints from new residents, which can threaten licences or result in new conditions for the venue. The financial burden for venues to install expensive soundproofing, for example, can be prohibitive, especially when they are operating with small margins. The Government must urgently stop the rising tide of venue closures by enshrining such an agent of change principle into law here. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and other Members from Cardiff, including my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), for their campaigning on the issue pertaining to their city. Enshrining an agent of change principle into the law would mean that developers who brought about a change that had an impact on existing businesses would have to take some responsibility for that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (John Spellar) is driving that important change forward through a ten-minute rule Bill that he will present to the House.

The industry also faces enormous economic uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU; it is not immune to the threats and challenges. In a poll of musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and artist managers this year, it was found that more than half feared that leaving the EU would have a negative impact on the music industry, and just 2% thought that Brexit would have a positive impact on their chances of work. The Government need to recognise that their lack of clarity on a transitional deal is affecting the music industry and is delaying investment opportunities and long-term planning. On top of that, an estimated one in 10 workers in the music sector holds a passport from another EU country—a greater proportion than the 7% of the total UK workforce who are from other EU nations. I want to pay tribute to the important work of the Musicians’ Union in championing the rights of professional musicians and performers who tour across the EU, and I hope the Minister pays close attention to what it has to say and will commit to working with it.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. As a former singer in a band, I rise to support his arguments. I am unsure whether the sales of the music that I wrote contributed a huge amount to the economy, but the beer sales certainly did. Some 1.86 million music tourists visited the north-west last year, generating £500 million for the local economy and sustaining 6,000 jobs. A key factor in that is our ability to grow new artists. As my hon. Friend has been saying, Brexit presents possible restrictions on freedom of movement, so would he support the industry calls for an EU-wide touring passport once the UK leaves to ensure that our musicians can continue to perform overseas and not just in the brilliant bars and venues, such as those that he and I frequent in Manchester?

Indeed. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and his commitment to music and the music industry. He makes a relevant and pertinent point, and I hope that the Government look closely at that proposal.

The Government need to respond carefully to the structural and technological changes in the music industry. Music, and how we listen to it, is changing fast. An AudienceNet survey in June found that, on a typical day, radio accounted for just one 10th of 16 to 19-year-old listening time, whereas on-demand streaming made up 62%. That contrasts sharply with the over-65s who, according to the same survey, spend around two thirds of listening time tuning into the radio and just 4% on streaming services. Given the significant growth in online music consumption, the Government must take action to address the transfer of value that has developed in the digital economy in recent years.

Certain online platforms have grown at the expense of the music industry by exploiting safe harbours in the e-commerce directive. Not only does that mean that creators and those who invest in them are not adequately rewarded for the use of their content, it also creates an uneven playing field among digital platforms. To put that into perspective, estimated record company revenue per YouTube user, a service which benefits from safe harbours, is under $1, but the figure is $20 for Spotify. The value gap that has resulted from the legislative framework needs to be closed, so that the industry can fully benefit from the great potential presented by music streaming. As the UK leaves the EU, I urge the Government to pay close attention to the proposed directive on copyright in the digital single market, which contains many measures that would be of benefit to the music industry, such as transparency and addressing the transfer of value. As the changes take place, the Government must ensure that our artists, writers and creators receive due benefits under existing copyright rules, especially as the UK leaves the EU.

As a Member of Parliament representing a constituency in the north-west of England, it is incumbent on me to pay homage to the towering musical heritage of Manchester and Liverpool, whose bands and artists have so often played the soundtrack to our modern history. As an Irish MP, I have to say that, from McCartney and Lennon to the Gallagher brothers, it is also important to recognise the contribution of Ireland’s sons and daughters and their sons and daughters to Britain’s musical heritage.

I particularly highlight the contribution of musicians, artists and venues in my constituency and how they are driving a progressive vision for St Helens and the north-west. St Helens is recognised by the Arts Council as a UK leader in arts and culture. Despite huge cuts to its budget, the local council has committed to providing whole-class first access to instrumental programmes for key stage 2 children.

Across the country, too many children are excluded from music lessons because their families do not have enough money. The Government should consider bursaries, particularly for underfunded areas such as mine, and for music such as brass and silver bands—the excellent Haydock, Valley and Rainford bands are truly the lifeblood of communities in St Helens.

Figures from UK Music show that, in 2016, 25,500 people attended live events across St Helens, generating box office spend of £1.2 million, and many thousands more attend live events, mini-festivals and bands playing in our pubs and clubs and even at our racecourse, Haydock Park, which hosts major concerts in an excellent initiative by the Jockey Club to marry music and racing. We are fortunate to have fantastic venues such as the Citadel and the hugely successful Westfield Street and Reminisce festivals, which are adding to those impressive figures.

I call on the Government to do all they can to support our thriving music industry. I hope the Minister will reassure the sector by committing to the introduction of an agent of change principle in UK law, by taking immediate steps to close the value gap and by addressing disparities in the transfer of value online. In Brexit negotiations, the Government should avoid damaging restrictions on musicians’ and performers’ freedom of movement, and they should consider advocating an EU touring passport to ensure that musicians and crews can continue to tour, a point well made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (James Frith). We have a world-leading music industry in this country, but it is not immune to the economic threats we face. The Government must do all they can to support the sector and to ensure its continued success in the coming years.

Music written and performed in the UK has formed the soundtrack to my life and has enriched the lives of many others, too. I hope the Government will ensure that future generations can enjoy the same world-beating music sector that we have all had the fortune to enjoy.

I am delighted to respond to this debate, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) for securing it. The Minister for Digital, who has responsibility for the music industry, is disappointed that he cannot be here to respond in person. Given the hon. Gentleman’s comments on the music scene in his constituency, I am sure the Minister for Digital will be delighted to visit.

The hon. Gentleman forgot to mention one of the greatest bands ever to come out of Manchester: the Stone Roses. I also hope the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) was listening to the intervention of the hon. Member for Bury North (James Frith). It is about time that MP4 became MP5.

I echo the thanks of the hon. Member for St Helens North to UK Music, its chair Andy Heath, its current and former CEOs, Michael Dugher, Jo Dipple and Feargal Sharkey, and all its member organisations for their sterling work over the past 10 years. The Government have consistently championed the British music industry and the incredible talent that makes the sector such a great success story for the UK.

As the hon. Gentleman said, UK Music’s excellent “Measuring Music” report shows that in 2016 music contributed more than £4 billion to the UK economy, up 6% on the previous 12 months. The report also highlights that the number of jobs in music grew more quickly than across the rest of the jobs market to more than 140,000, and that exports were up 13% to £2.5 billion across the whole sector. As the House has already heard, UK Music’s equally excellent report “Wish You Were Here”—incidentally, the title of one of the albums in my all-time top five—demonstrates that music tourism is also enjoying a massive boom, with the total number of music tourists from the UK and abroad increasing by 20% in 2016 to 12.5 million, generating a £4 billion total spend.

The contribution of the music industry is not simply economic; it also plays a vital role in the UK’s cultural landscape. Music is one of the things that make our country great, and it provides many people’s first introduction to all things British. Our artists are providing billions of people with the daily soundtrack to their life, and of course the talent does not end with the singers and musicians. We cannot overlook the outstanding producers, sound and lighting engineers, songwriters, composers and arrangers, promoters, stage managers, roadies and many others who are all part of the UK’s vibrant music ecosystem.

What we need to do as a Government is continue to create and support an environment in which our music industry is able to thrive. Over the past seven years, the Government have shown their commitment to the industry in a number of ways. Between 2012 and 2016, we have invested more than £460 million in a wide range of music and cultural education programmes. Further to this, we have committed to investing £75 million a year in music education hubs between 2016 and 2020. Orchestras and large musical groups are eligible to benefit from the orchestra tax relief, which was introduced in April 2016. The music export growth scheme is making almost £3 million of grant funding available to help support the launch of UK artists to international markets. That was developed in partnership with the British Phonographic Industry and will be funded by the Department for International Trade, between 2016 and 2020. BRIT award winners Catfish and the Bottlemen, MOBO-winning singer/saxophonist YolanDa Brown and Mercury prize winners Young Fathers are just some of the those to benefit.

The Live Music Act 2012 has made it much easier for promoters to organise live music events, and we made changes to the permitted development rights, making it easier for well-established music and cultural venues to operate. The rehearsal room scheme, originally set up by my Department and UK Music, and now overseen by the latter, created 14 music rehearsal spaces in areas of England experiencing multiple deprivation. Funding of £440,000 provided instruments and equipment, and contributed to the cost of necessary works, such as sound proofing.

The Government have taken a number of steps to bolster the enforcement of copyright including: increasing the maximum custodial sentence for criminal online copyright infringement offences; providing £3.6 million to the educational aspects of the Creative Content UK programme; and brokering a voluntary code of conduct between rights holders and search engines to reduce the number of infringing websites in search results.

Grassroots music venues, supported by their grassroots-equivalent recording studios and rehearsal rooms, are where so many of our world-class musicians take their first steps on the road to success. The Government believe that this vital and vibrant part of the music ecosystem must be allowed to prosper. We have already reformed entertainment licensing and made changes to planning requirements, making it easier for small venues to operate. We are currently exploring a range of issues with industry and government stakeholders, including: working more closely across government to better support the sector; the “agent of change” principle; the impact of business rate rises on grassroots music; the availability of suitable space; and Form 696, which I will come on to deal with in a moment.

The Minister mentioned the Live Music Act. As she knows, that started as a private Member’s Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) mentioned the private Member’s Bill of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (John Spellar). If the Government are considering any kind of change, will they consider taking up his Bill?

Order. I did not jump up immediately to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but it is not in order for the Opposition spokesman sitting at the Dispatch Box to intervene or take part in an Adjournment debate such as this. However, this is a good-natured debate and he is not causing trouble, so on this occasion I am not going to prevent the Minister from hearing what he said. But, for the record, it is not in order for him to take part in the debate.

I would not wish to be out of order by responding, so I will ensure that my ministerial colleague reads the Hansard record of this debate and responds in writing to the hon. Gentleman.

Will the Government support the private Member’s Bill of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (John Spellar)?

I will ensure that the Minister with responsibility for the music industry will respond to the hon. Lady as well as to the Opposition spokesman.

The Government’s response to the recent House of Lords inquiry into the Licensing Act 2003 will be published shortly. We will continue to work across government, and with industry and local authorities, to support small venues.

The hon. Member for St Helens North understandably raised the issue of Brexit, and I wish to reassure him that my Department has held a series of roundtable meetings to ensure that the needs and views of all the creative industries, including music, are heard and understood. The DCMS is continuing to work closely with stakeholders and other Departments on the possible impacts and opportunities presented by Brexit.

Our visa system helps to shape perceptions of the UK around the world. We strive constantly to improve our visa service to ensure that it is as simple, streamlined and efficient as possible so that we can welcome established and new artists to the UK. Visa rules for artists performing in the EU will not change for quite some time, but they are being considered with other activity, and we welcome the music industry’s views on visas with respect to movement within Europe.

I am aware of the visa issues for artists travelling to the USA, and I am grateful for the constructive engagement of the industry with the UK and US Governments. I share the desire to reduce this burden on the British music industry, especially for emerging talent, and the DCMS continues to work with the sector, Foreign Office colleagues and US embassy counterparts.

I am a vinyl loyalist, but everyone in the House will recognise that over the past 10 years the recorded music industry has gone through a major transformation, with digital downloads, online platforms and the more recent explosion of streaming services all shifting the way music is consumed. The DCMS is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Intellectual Property Office to ensure that the music industry’s concerns are considered in the negotiation of the copyright package.

Like all businesses, online platforms must act in a socially responsible manner and co-operate with law enforcement authorities in a reasonable and timely way to remove illegal material. We have been working successfully with the industry to achieve this on a voluntary basis. We believe that internet companies need to take more responsibility for content on their platforms. We need to make sure that we get the right balance to ensure that we have a vibrant internet while protecting users from illegal and/or harmful content. We are currently working on proposals for a digital charter to set out a framework for how businesses, individuals and wider society should act online. The framework will address some of the issues faced by the music industry.

Many Members will know that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Digital has expressed concern about the use of form 696 and its potential negative impact on London’s grassroots music scene and its venues. Related to that is the worry that the form may be stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world-renowned musical offering, and that it could also push the organisers and promoters of genre-specific music events to take them outside London. We are pleased that the Metropolitan Police Service is reviewing how it works with the music industry, and that as part of that review the London Night Czar recently dedicated a London Music Board session to form 696.

The UK music sector is a tremendous ambassador for the wealth of creativity that exists on these islands. Wherever we look, we see great British musical and creative talent. With household names known around the world—from Glastonbury and Glyndebourne, Elgar and Elbow, Pet Shop Boys and Paloma Faith, to Abbey Road and AIR Studios, Wembley and Womanby Street—the UK is a world leader in music. Those names are a big part of why the UK is currently ranked second in the world for soft power and why people from around the world want to come here. The Government are committed to continuing to support the UK music industry at home and abroad. We want our music industry to continue to be the envy of the world, promoting and showcasing the very best of our unique brand of creativity.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.