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The role of the Arts Council is once again in the headlines. This week, leading figures representing the music industry locked horns with senior opera figures over Arts Council funding. 

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher branded Arts Council England (ACE) “too posh for pop”, pointing out that 62% of ACE’s National Portfolio goes to opera and a further 23% goes to classical music. In contrast, only 8% goes to popular music and 7% to other genres (including jazz, folk, etc).

Hitting back in The Daily Telegraph, Michael Volpe General Director of Holland Park Opera, responded “I’ve been hearing the word ‘posh’ in relation to opera for 30 years. Very few people in opera are posh - certainly not the performers”, although Volpe conceded in the same piece “Opera companies get a lot of money, perhaps more than they ought to, and that’s an ongoing argument.” 

ACE has £1.45 billion of public funds and £860 million National Lottery funds to distribute over the next four years. Of the £368 million allocated to music, opera will receive £229 million, classical £85 million and pop £27 million.

The debate is especially timely because ACE has initiated a public conversation to help inform its strategy for the next 10 years. Given the music industry is only just returning to growth having suffered 15 years of decline, a lot is at stake. A barrier to that discussion is a fundamental misunderstanding between both sides. 

Some might argue the opera world, and the arts establishment as a whole, seem to look down on the music industry or, perhaps, hold the view that it is less deserving. Many in the music industry consider opera an irrelevance and an extravagance. 

The reality is the music industry is vastly more complex, diverse and challenging than is often understood. It is also a reality that opera is accessible through multi-tiered ticket pricing and many opera companies are addressing their own diversity issues.

What are the key issues? How can both sides better understand one another and what does a satisfactory outcome look like?

THE FUNDING IMBALANCE

Not only is there a huge imbalance towards opera, but there is also a disproportionate amount awarded to the Royal Opera House in London specifically. During 2016 alone, the ROH received £28 million in Arts Council funding, which represents 20% of the ROH’s total income for that year. The remainder is made up of box office receipts, commercial income and other fundraising. This includes various charitable trusts and corporate backers such as Goldman Sachs. 

By way of comparison, UK Sport fulfils a similar function to the Arts Council and also relies on a combination of public money and lottery funding. It is worth noting the spread of investment across the Olympic disciplines is much more even. Of the £265 million earmarked for the Tokyo Olympic cycle, rowing receives the most with £32 million, followed by athletics (£27m), sailing (£26m), cycling (£26) and swimming (£22m). Although medals success and underlying costs are a factor, the distribution of funds is far more even when compared to arts funding for music. Equestrian was further down the list with £15m, but imagine the uproar if Equestrian took 60% of available funding at the expense of other medal winning sports.

It is hard to see how the imbalance between opera, classical and other forms of music can be justified. Moreover, if funding were to be taken away from opera and distributed more broadly, how detrimental would that be? Supposing ACE funding for the Royal Opera House is cut in half, that would represent a 10% cut in its overall income. Can the ROH be challenged to go without or make up that funding elsewhere? 

MOMENTUM MUSIC FUND – A CASE FOR GRANT FUNDING 

In 2013, Arts Council England supported the launch of the Momentum Music Fund, administered by the PRS Foundation. Momentum was aimed at artists existing outside the major label system, unsigned or signed to an independent, and who could demonstrable a case for £5-15,000 worth of funding to give their careers tangible momentum at a crucial point.

The scheme has been a great success. Over 270 artists have been supported by Momentum and for every £1 invested £7.46 has been generated. Recipients are truly diverse covering a broad spread of genres with a strong BAME representation, making up 49% of grantees. 

Over 3,800 artists have applied for Momentum funding since its inception. Five years after its launch demand and impact has never been greater. The recently published outline of Government's creative industries sector deal, which encourages partnerships between government and industry, mentions the Momentum Fund as an example of good practice.

The frustration is that despite this clear proof of concept, including the quality and diversity of the artists supported and the match funding & income it has leveraged there appears to be little appetite from the Arts Council to continue its involvement in such schemes. 

ATTITUDES TO INVESTMENT NEED TO CHANGE 

A key challenge is how the music industry is perceived and how it perceives itself.

Culturally, a disproportionate level of attention is afforded to a tiny minority of major artists earning vast sums at the expense of the majority who do not. This contributes to long held assumptions within the arts establishment, government and the wider public that all paths through the music industry are paved with gold. They are not. 

Within the industry itself, there has been a tradition of self-reliance. Labels and publishers, especially, pride themselves on their investment in new music. This is very true, but that investment only comes at a certain stage. Leading up to that point, artists and their managers typically funded themselves. Prior to the launch of Momentum, grant type funding for artists was very rarely considered as an option. 

Attitudes are very different when it comes to sport. Even world-class athletes such as Mo Farah continue to receive grant funding from Sport UK. In Farah’s case, this is despite considerable endorsement income and a personal net worth rumoured to be £4 million. Grant type funding in sport began in the late 90s. Twenty years later, Great Britain can look back on Olympic glory over the past three Olympic cycles in Beijing, London and Rio across a range of sports. This was no coincidence.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Leading up to the publication of the government’s Industrial Strategy (Creative Industries Sector Deal) earlier this year, there was much debate about funding. Early funding gaps were evident across the creative sector and especially so in music.

For a new artist, releasing music has never been easier: the major streaming platforms are readily accessible to any artist. The principle sources of investment remain labels and publishers although other self-release options such as Seed EIS are available. What has changed is the time it takes to reach that level. A new artist may take several years funding their own releases and live shows during that time. Few new artists have the means to do this, especially those from less affluent backgrounds. This has created very real roadblocks in the talent pipeline as the industry has shifted from CD to download to streaming. 

There is a clear deficiency in investment at the seed/ angel level. Unlike the tech world, there are very few mechanisms providing a return to the early stage investor while safeguarding the artist. An artist’s business structure, especially at an early stage, can be fluid and may not have all IP and activities sitting in one entity. Very few new artists could be considered “investment ready” in a traditional sense. 

This is why grant funding is so important. It does not require equity stakes or convertible loans. It is simple and when targeted correctly, as Momentum has proven, can be highly effective. Grant funding can play a central role in growing a sustainable talent pipeline that fits the streaming age that is now upon us and ensure the industry picks more winners. 

The disproportionate level of Arts Council funds devoted to opera does not seem fair or sustainable and it would seem this is recognized even within the world of opera. Meanwhile, the music industry has proven that grant funding can provide a significant boost to more popular genres and sustain a diverse pipeline of creative talent that works in tandem with existing commercial models. Making the numbers work is a bigger question, but there would seem to be a clear imperative to develop a fairer and more balanced approach to Arts Council funding for music.

22 Oct 2019 | Press release

Moves Recordings announce Afro Nation agreement

Exclusive Collaboration Introduces Innovative New Afrobeats Music SeriesGroundbreaking Initiative Sees New Releases A&R’d via WhatsApp Marathon Music Group has announced that in-house imprint MOVES Recordings has entered into a wide-ranging agreement with Afro Nation, the world's first mainstream festival that has Afrobeats...more

22 Oct 2019 | Press release

IFPI and WIN announce cross-industry collaboration on recording industry data exchange service

Recording industry to develop centralised gateway to supply recording data in support of timely, accurate and efficient payments of public performance and broadcast revenues to recording right holders by music licensing companies IFPI and WIN, working together on behalf of the global...more

22 Oct 2019 | Press release

Reservoir makes raft of UK signings

Reservoir UK Head Of Creative Charlie Pinder signs Rachel Chinouriri to a worldwide publishing deal, adding to robust alternative pop/rock roster which includes Shura, David Sneddon, Lucy Rose, and Clean Cut Kid’s Mike Halls   Reservoir announces the signing of neo-soul pop...more

22 Oct 2019 | Press release

LyricFind partners with Fender to provide lyrics to the music brand's latest app

LyricFind is pleased to announce a partnership with Fender Music Instruments Corporation, to provide lyrics to its new app, Fender Songs. The app allows users to practice, play along, and perform to millions of their favorite songs on guitar, ukulele or piano. Fender Songs...more

22 Oct 2019 | Press release

Centtrip opens ‘European hub’ in Amsterdam

 New office will Extend Company’s Reach in Mainland Europe   Centtrip, the UK’s leading financial technology (FinTech) company providing intelligent treasury management services for the music and wider entertainment industries, has announced the launch of a new office in Amsterdam to oversee...more

21 Oct 2019 | Press release

Hache signs to Sian Anderson’s Saint Music

BBC DJ Anderson inked Bucks sponsorship deal for new company in 2017Grime and rap artist Hache has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing deal with Sian Anderson’s Saint Music. BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Anderson formed Saint Music (originally Floor Sixx) in 2017...more

21 Oct 2019 | Press release

Shani Gonzales named Head of International, EVP of US, A&R for Warner Chappell Music

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has announced the appointment of music industry veteran Shani Gonzales as Head of International, Executive Vice President of U.S., A&R. Based in New York, she will report to WCM Co-Chair & CEO Guy Moot. Gonzales was...more

20 Oct 2019 | Press release

PRS for Music Explores: Artificial Intelligence

  Political figures and leading business professionals discuss potential affects artificial intelligence could have on music industry. Emma McClarkin, former MEP and technology and international trade specialist says: Technology is changing the world we live in, from the way we discover music to...more

18 Oct 2019 | Press release

App Wizards and Beer Indices: How Viberate Generates Festival Mobile Apps and Landing Pages with Robust Data

Festivals may come in all shapes, styles, and flavors, but they all struggle with one problem: How to keep on top of the flood of information about lineup artists and how to organize festival information in easy-to-navigate ways. Websites are...more

18 Oct 2019 | Press release

Rosie Hill and Patrick Cloherty promoted after record year for Sentric sync team

Company’s sync revenue up 41% YoY in 2018   Sentric Music Group’s award-winning sync team has undergone a significant reshuffle with two key promotions and other movements within the department. Sentric’s sync business saw year-on-year revenue growth of 41% in 2018. Key syncs...more

17 Oct 2019 | Press release

DCMS Minister Nigel Adams backs the best of British music

  Creative Industries Minister Nigel Adams has shown his strong support for the UK music industry by showcasing some of the best of British talent at the centre of his ministerial office. He chose one album to represent a great British act...more

17 Oct 2019 | Press release

Hipgnosis raises £231m

HIPGNOSIS SONGS FUND LIMITED (the “Company” or “Hipgnosis”) LEI: 213800XJIPNDVKXMOC11 RESULT OF C SHARE ISSUE Further to its announcement on 27 September 2019, Hipgnosis and its Investment Adviser, The Family (Music) Limited, are pleased to announce that the Company has raised total gross...more

17 Oct 2019 | Press release

MelodyVR partners with O2 as 5G launches

TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY WILL BRING A NEW GENERATION OF MUSIC EXPERIENCES TO FANS     MelodyVR has announced an exclusive UK partnership with mobile operator O2, representing a major development for the virtual reality music company. The relationship kicks off with MelodyVR unveiled as the...more

17 Oct 2019 | Press release

UK Trade Mission aims to boost British music in Brazil

Applications now being accepted for first ever music mission to São Paolo - December 2019   Download the Application form here – https://bit.ly/2AWi0Em   A UK music industry trade mission to Brazil is set to take place from 2nd – 8th December 2019, providing an open door for...more

17 Oct 2019 | Press release

AWAL Promotes Aaron Bogucki to Vice President, Marketing

AWAL, Kobalt’s recording company, today announced the promotion of Aaron Bogucki to Vice President, Marketing. Based in Kobalt’s London office, Bogucki will oversee a more integrated marketing and digital marketing team focused on creative marketing campaigns and audience development strategy...more

16 Oct 2019 | Press release

Hipgnosis Songs Fund acquires Timbaland catalogue

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited (“Hipgnosis” or the “Company”) Acquisition of Music Catalogue The Board of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited and its Investment Adviser, The Family (Music) Limited, are pleased to announce that the Company has acquired a music catalogue from Timbaland, an American...more

16 Oct 2019 | Press release

Ben Cook Steps Down as President of Atlantic Records

A Statement  It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as President of Atlantic Records, UK. Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favourite musical icon, I came...more

16 Oct 2019 | Press release

Q Awards 2019 winners announced

The world's greatest night in music, the Q Awards, took place this evening with artists, fans and industry alike coming together to celebrate the best music 2019 has had to offer. At Camden's legendary Roundhouse, the awards were hosted by one...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Accelerator programme for music managers reveals successes as applications open for 2020

UK based music managers are urged to apply for the MMF and YouTube Music’s groundbreaking grants and education initiative. Accelerator has received repeat backing from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Music Industry Association. Accelerator offers 12-month support of...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) announce newly appointed directors

The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) today announces the appointment of seven new Directors who have joined its Company Board.   The newly-appointed Directors of the not-for-profit organisation – which exists to represent and develop Scotland’s music industry – are...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Spotify Presents: Who We Be Live 2019

The UK’s leading Rap, Grime, R&B and Afrobeat Playlist returns to the stage at Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse   Friday 22nd November 2019, O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester AITCH AND TION WAYNE CONFIRMED   Spotify today announced that its award-winning show, Who We Be Live, will return...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Deezer signs exclusive deal with Targetspot for ad sales in 5 countries

Targetspot to exclusively sell Deezer’s audio ad inventory in the United States, Canada, The Netherlands, Spain and Italy ·     Deezer, the global music streaming service, has signed a two year agreement with Targetspot, the world’s leading digital audio platform, for...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Did you know that just 14% of composers and 20% of signed recording artists in the UK are women?

Counting the Music Industry is a gender gap analysis of over 300 music publishers and record labels in the UK. This research reveals that just over 14% of writers currently signed to publishers and just under 20% of artists signed...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Rufus Wainwright signs global deal with BMG for upcoming new studio album

Award-winning, critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright has signed a new global recordings agreement with BMG to release his upcoming studio album. His ninth album of original material, and first with BMG, follows his last full-length release, Out Of The Game,...more

15 Oct 2019 | Press release

Soundwhale Lets You Share Your Studio with Anyone in the World

New software for remote audio collaboration with video sync launches  Remote collaboration on audio projects is not where it should be, especially when working with video. Asynchronous back-and-forth communication can kill creativity in the studio. Laggy, jittery feeds, over compressed streams,...more

14 Oct 2019 | Press release

YUNGBLUD, AJ Tracey and Jax Jones announced for Radio 1's Teen Awards

YUNGBLUD, AJ TRACEY AND JAX JONES ANNOUNCED FOR RADIO 1’S TEEN AWARDS -       HOSTED BY GREG JAMES, MOLLIE KING AND MAYA JAMA - BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards is set to return for a one day spectacular across radio, TV &...more

14 Oct 2019 | Press release

Bring Me The Horizon Launch First Spotify Data-Driven Personalised Merch

amoincolour.com Fans of UK rock band Bring Me The Horizon can now put their own stamp on the band’s swag with the brand new ‘amo in colour’ experience. In a world-first initiative connecting streaming with physical merchandise, the ‘amo in colour’...more

11 Oct 2019 | Press release

Artist & Manager Awards

SAM FENDER & OWAIN DAVIES TO RECEIVE THE FANFAIR ALLIANCE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO LIVE MUSIC INSANITY GROUP'S ANDY VARLEY TO RECEIVE OUR 2019 ENTREPRENEUR AWARD SANDY DWORNIAK, FOUNDER OF THIS MUCH TALENT,  TO RECEIVE THE WRITER/PRODUCER MANAGER AWARD IN ASSOCIATION...more

11 Oct 2019 | Press release

The latest songwriters and writer producers to receive support through the Writer Producer Fund announced

Seven new writer-producers receive career-changing support   PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development announces today the latest recipients to receive support through The Writer Producer Fund.   The supported songwriters/writer-producers are: Dominic Lyttle – Dom Lyttle, known as the...more

11 Oct 2019 | Press release

YMU Group Launches Wide-Ranging Mental Health & Well Being Initiative

To coincide with World Mental Health Day , which took place this week on Thursday October 10, international artist management company YMU Group has launched a wide-ranging mental health and well-being initiative that will take a forward thinking approach to...more

23 Oct 2019

22 Oct 2019

  • Ben Cooper to leave the BBC (see Media)

  • Noel Gallagher, Raye and Camila Cabello among those honoured at BMI London Awards (see News)

21 Oct 2019

  • PRS for Music show use of music across on-demand TV platforms rises (see News)

18 Oct 2019

  • Vivendi could sell an additional minority stake in Universal; Strong Q3 results announced (see Business)

  • Modest! launches TV production company (see Media)

17 Oct 2019

  • Ben Cook leaves Atlantic Records UK (see Business)

  • Mixcloud report revenue and costs leap (see Business)

  • Hipgnosis raises £231m in a new round (see Business)

16 Oct 2019

  • Queen, Eminem and Ariana Grande hit significant milestones on Spotify (see News)

  • Hipgnosis Songs Fund acquires Timbaland catalogue (see Deals)

15 Oct 2019

  • Executive to lead Spotify's global strategy for editorial and programming sought (see Digital)

14 Oct 2019

  • Appeal against Dark Horse copyright infringement ruling (see News)

11 Oct 2019

  • TaP Management make key promotions; secure LA office (see Business)

  • Spotify UK’s operating profit increases by 125% year-on-year (see Business)

  • More Artist & Manager Awards recipients announced (see News)

10 Oct 2019

  • Andy Daniell appointed to lead FFRR Records (see Business)

  • Shazam grew its user base from 400m to 478m active users in 2018 (see Digital)