SEARCH DATE RANGE

SEARCH TERM OR WORD

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.

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

Superfan App Stationhead Opens Up New All-Access Tier to Help Artists Identify and Reward the Biggest Music Fans

  Fans want to feel special and to connect to each other and their favorite artists. Artists want an enjoyable, low-lift way to interact with their fans, something that feels like a hang, not a forced marketing initiative. Both sides have...more

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

hmv’s Vinyl Week is back with exclusive releases from George Michael, Bob Marley, Jeff Wayne, Suede, Simple Minds and Fleetwood Mac

  Limited edition exclusive vinyl will be available in hmv stores on “Exclusives Day” on 15th June, with Morcheeba, The Specials, Minecraft, Justin Timberlake, Meatloaf and S Club 7 among the featured acts Each record in this year’s collection is pressed onto a...more

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

Concord Music Publishing ANZ Inks Publishing Agreement with John Butler

Concord Music Publishing ANZ today announce a new global publishing agreement with treasured Australian songwriter John Butler. A household name in Australia for over two decades, the worldwide deal (excluding Japan), covers Butler’s full catalogue including hits ‘Better Than,’ ‘Zebra,’ and...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

The LIVE Awards 2024 - Save the Date

Skiddle Announced as Headline Sponsor The annual LIVE Awards will return on Wednesday 11th December and will once again take place at Troxy, the iconic Art Deco venue in East London, which will accommodate over 600 guests from across the live music...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Musical AI Tames the Chaos and Ushers in a Sustainable Generative AI Future

  Thanks to groundbreaking technology, this newly launched rights management platform allows attribution and metered licensing of copyrighted works for AI training and generation. Musical AI (formerly Somms.ai) is unveiling its new rights management platform for AI, serving as a secure go-between...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Meta and Merlin Renew Key Partnership, Highlighting the Importance of Independent Music Across Instagram, Facebook and Messenger

Meta and Merlin, the independent’s digital music licensing partner, are excited to announce the renewal of their strategic partnership, underscoring Meta’s recognition of the value and importance of the world’s leading independent labels and distributors. This renewal reinforces the pivotal...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Music.AI builds on Masterchannel and Cyanite partnerships in step towards single source audio ecosystem

Music.AI announces RoEx as third partner integrated into its AI platform Music.AI, the leading B2B AI-powered music and audio platform, has announced a partnership with RoEx, the AI multitrack mixing service for musicians, producers, and content creators. The news represents the latest...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Cakewalk Software Now Exclusively Available Through BandLab Membership

  Cakewalk, a historic and pioneering name in digital audio workstations (DAWs), is excited to announce that Cakewalk Next and Cakewalk Sonar have exited public beta and are available worldwide exclusively through BandLab Membership. This marks a significant milestone for Cakewalk,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

BEYOND THE MUSIC announce first details of groundbreaking music industry conference and share first wave lineup announcement

UNIQUE GLOBAL CO-OPERATIVE MUSIC FORUM & NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST DETAILS OF GROUNDBREAKING MUSIC INDUSTRY CONFERENCEINTRODUCING THE BRAND NEW ‘FUTURE OF MUSIC VILLAGE’ SHOWCASING THE VERY BEST OF MUSIC INNOVATION AND VISIONARIES IN THE TECH INDUSTRYANNOUNCE SUPPORT OF THE...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

First official selection of showcase artists for WOMEX 24 revealed

WOMEX 24, Manchester 23-27th October   Manchester Music City, the host partner for this year’s WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), has today (13 June 2024) revealed the first batch of official showcase artists for the 30th edition. The 20 artists announced come from 25 different countries,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

TCAT launches mobile app to combat music piracy

‘To Catch A Thief’ Piracy is a $13 Billion-a-Year Problem Ground-Breaking Software Will Allow Artists To Check Who Is Pirating Their Music   TCAT, the music industry’s anti-piracy software developer, has launched a new App that will allow artists to see where their music is being illegally used...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

FUGA partners with Record Makers; continues expansion in France & Belgium

FUGA also enters into a partnership with Potion Records, the label founded by Belgian producer and DJ, The MagicianRecord Makers and Potion Records join FUGA’s existing roster in the region, including Bendo Music, VIPMUSIK Records, Jaiye, Soundbirth and Underground Tekno Downtown-owned,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

The Circuit Group Launches Label Services Division with Key Hires, Appoints Chief Strategy Officer

The Circuit Group, the new enterprise led by some of the most respected artist managers in the world to build business opportunities around artists’ intellectual property, today announced several new hires made up of music industry experts.  The Circuit Group is...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

The Production Music Awards 2024 opens for entries, celebrates 10 years of championing human-made music

  The prestigious event celebrates the finest production music industry libraries and Composers from around the world. Now open for entries, categories span genres across Composition and Sync.   The Production Music Awards—celebrating exceptional production music libraries and Composers—today announces its 2024 call for...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

NTIA Collaborates with KUVO Powered by DJ Monitor to Enhance Music Insights for UK Venues and Increase the Accuracy of Royalty Payments for Creators

AlphaTheta Corporation today announces its brand, KUVO Powered by DJ Monitor, partners with the NTIA. The initiative aims to support electronic music creators and offer music insights to venues across the UK to enhance their businesses. It creates a ground-breaking...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Concord Music Publishing sign electronic duo Mount Kimbie to new global agreement

  Concord Music Publishing today announce the signing of Mount Kimbie – the pioneering English electronic music duo of Dom Maker and Kai Campos – to a new worldwide publishing agreement.  The new deal covers all works going forward including acclaimed new...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Managing Expectations: Workforce Edition

New MMF report recommends targeted cross-sector support to ensure music management companies can develop their future workforce The third edition in the MMF’s Managing Expectations series reveals a mixed picture for UK music managers with survey respondents outlining inherent challenges to...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

2Point9 Records Slams “Arrogant” Ministry of Sound Recordings in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

UK Independent Issues High Court Proceedings against Major Label  2Point9 Records, the London based independent label founded by Billy Grant and Rob Stuart in 2000, has issued court proceedings against Ministry of Sound Recordings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Kits Earn: Kits.AI invites vocalists to create an AI Voice model and unlock new revenue

Kits.AI enabled artists to monetize their voice and likeness while allowing fans to create commercially viable music using their favorite artists' voices–setting the gold standard for the rest of the music industry. Since its founding in July 2023, the company...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

DawBell announces Kate Etteridge as Managing Director

With Promotions for Laura Sinclair, James Windle and Holly Appleton  Etteridge becomes Managing Director from Head of Music and Entertainment Three other promotions to Heads of Entertainment, Music and Operations named as DawBell announces restructure among senior team   Award winning music and popular...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Universal Music India announces strategic leadership appointments

Sanujeet Bhujabal appointed Managing Director, Universal Music India and South Asia  Viral Jani appointed Chief Revenue Officer, Universal Music India and South Asia    Universal Music India (UMI), a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world-leader in music-based entertainment today announced the...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

PRS Foundation’s UK and Republic of Ireland co-commissioning and touring initiative, Beyond Borders, opens for applications

  Deadline to submit applications is 29th July 2024 at 6pm Grant support of up to £15,000 is available for projects PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development announces today that its UK and Republic of Ireland...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

BMC the UK's leading electronic music conference sets dates for 2025

BMC, the UK's leading electronic music conference and networking event sets dates for its 12th edition from 28th to 30th May 2025. A hub for the next generation of talent in electronic music, the award winning event brings together Industry-leading professionals with a packed...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

UK Music Video Awards calls for submissions as the premier global celebration of music videos returns

  The search begins for this year’s most creative and innovative work in music videos and music visual projects as the UK Music Video Awards launches its call for submissions from today, June 12th 2024. The leading global celebration of excellence in...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Tunecore's independent artists have earned more than $4 billion

The leading global self-releasing artist development platform surpasses latest milestone of $4 billion earned by artists since the company was founded in 2006     TuneCore, the leading development partner for self-releasing artists—owned by Believe, one of the world's leading digital music companies—has...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

'Strangers' singer-songwriter-producer, Kenya Grace, signs with PPL for international royalties collection

  UK music licensing company PPL has announced the signing of BRITs nominated artist Kenya Grace for the collection of international neighbouring rights royalties. She joins a host of artists who signed with PPL recently for international collections including Central Cee,...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Music Venue Trust announce, ‘A Manifesto For Grassroots Music’ ahead of General Election

POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES FROM ALL PARTIES URGED TO “SEIZE THE MOMENT” Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity which represents hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs), has called upon politicians from all parties to “seize the moment” ahead of the forthcoming UK General...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Downtown Music Appoints Molly Neuman as President of CD Baby

Industry Veteran to Lead Downtown Music's Direct-to-Creator Businesses CD Baby and Soundrop Downtown Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Molly Neuman as President of its Direct-to-Creator division, CD Baby. The move, which follows the alignment of the company’s operating...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Industry veteran Ronnie Gurr joins Naked – the world’s 1st eco-friendly record club

NAKED S.A.R.L. (NAKED Société à Responsabilité Limitée), the French parent company of NAKED Record Club, today announces the appointment of Ronnie Gurr as a Non-Executive Director. Music industry veteran Gurr, who begins work with immediate effect, will advise on artist and label...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Please Give your Isle of Wight Festival Stories at Experience 25!

  Dr Patrick Glen from Leeds University will be visiting Experience 25 to gather your stories from the 1968 to 1970 Festivals! Experience 25 celebrates the earlier Festivals and the new Isle of Wight Festival from 2002 onwards – 25 this...more

14 Jun 2024

  • Mainstream culture is dissolving, and with it the nature of “pop music”. (see Opinion)

  • 14 issues in music that don't get enough attention (see Opinion)

13 Jun 2024

  • How low will Spotify’s royalty payments go? (ses Analysis)

12 Jun 2024

  • European artists generated €1.5bn of Spotify payouts in 2023 (see Reports)

  • MMF report reveals earnings breakdown for artist managers (see Reports)

11 Jun 2024

  • Report released on the notion of artist success in the modern music industry (see Reports)

10 Jun 2024

  • How 'Swiftonomics' is impacting the music industry (see Analysis)

07 Jun 2024

  • TV channels once championed music. Why have they given up so completely? (see Comment)

  • Rising streaming subscription prices are likely to lead to a rebundling of services (see Comment)

06 Jun 2024

  • What role does geography play in people’s relationship to music? (see Analysis)

  • The state of the attention economy: why don’t fan-first platforms work? (see Analysis)

05 Jun 2024

  • Why isn’t the government helping artists tour the US? (see Features)

04 Jun 2024

  • Hipgnosis Songs Fund turned out to be worth more than a lot of people thought (see Analysis)

03 Jun 2024

  • Songs as cultural moments (and why TikTok trends are so appealing) (see Comment)

  • Daniel Ek clarifies his "cost of creating content being close to zero" comment (see Digital)

  • Can Taylor Swift make a difference for struggling musicians and new artists? (see Features)