Economy and Society: Contribution of Music

Nigel Adams Excerpts
Tuesday 21st January 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Westminster Hall

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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan
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21 Jan 2020, 3:44 p.m.

I will not, because of the time, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind.

This issue is extremely important, and I hope that the Minister will press his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get on with the job that they are doing of reviewing the availability of shared parental leave for freelancers. We found out today from the Office for National Statistics that for the first time ever more than 5 million people in this country are self-employed. That is a huge part of the creative industries in general and the music sector in particular, so I hope that the Minister takes that job on and communicates with Ministers in other Departments to get the job done.

We have heard about the importance of Brexit. That is a massive issue for the music industry, including in relation to the copyright directive and the huge importance that that has for composers and musicians—for the industry. I should mention the work of PRS for Music in this regard and the tremendous work that it does. Some £618 million a year of export revenue is earned just by music publishing, which is an extraordinary statistic.

We have to deal with the issue of organisations, massive corporations, such as YouTube and Google. Google and YouTube will take $5.5 billion-worth of revenue from advertising alone in the US during 2020; and 70% of views on YouTube are of 10% of the content, and I would wager that a lot of that content is music content. Musicians and creators are just not being adequately rewarded in that regard.

The other issue is the musicians’ passport and the importance of freedom of movement. I know that the Minister was a Brexiteer, but it is vital that musicians are able to exercise freedom of movement on our departure from the EU and the end of the implementation period. This is not just about large orchestras or big touring bands, which may or may not have the resources and capacity to absorb that. It is also about the small gigging musician who may have a few fans and followers in Berlin, Italy or wherever, who is on an easyJet flight carrying their own instrument and for whom this is a highly marginal activity but one that could lead to a very major career in music. I hope that the Minister bears that in mind and ensures that the music passport proposal becomes reality and freedom of movement does also.

On music education, I will not labour the points made earlier, but it is extremely important.

I do want to introduce one final new and different issue—the BBC. If the Government are serious about the music industry, they need to think about the undermining of the BBC that seems to be the flavour of the day in Government at the moment. The BBC is hugely important to our music industry. It is hugely important to composers, musicians, orchestras, producers, technicians, mixers, engineers—to all of the music sector. Just look at the behaviour now of some of the big channels—for example, the Discovery Channel—which are trying to buy out music rights in relation to copyright. Undermining the BBC because of petty political issues will damage our music industry, and I urge the Minister to ensure that he makes representations in that regard within Government.

Nigel Adams Portrait The Minister for Sport, Media and Creative Industries (Nigel Adams)
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21 Jan 2020, 3:47 p.m.

I congratulate all right hon. and hon. Members on their contributions and, in particular, the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) on bringing this incredibly important debate to Westminster Hall today. The interest shown in the debate is testament to the essential role played by music in our national life. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a keen music fan, he has a stunning voice—so I am led to believe—and he is a Classic FM fan. Ms McDonagh, you may be surprised to learn that the hon. Member for St Helens North is also a Rod Stewart aficionado. That took me by surprise, and no doubt at some point we may hear more about it.

I apologise because, given the time constraints, I might not be able to address all the issues and points raised today, but could I add my voice to those who have congratulated the outgoing chief executive of UK Music, Michael Dugher, who has done an incredible job for the sector in his time there? We wish him well in his new career, where I am sure he will also do an incredible job. We also congratulate Andy Heath, the outgoing chairman, who has a fantastic reputation within the industry and has also done a fantastic job stewarding the excellent organisation that is UK Music.

I will also quickly mention and congratulate Billy Ocean, who is 70 today—would you believe it? And of course we cannot forget Baby Spice, Emma Bunton, who has her 44th birthday today. I cannot believe that, either.

I will respond to some of the points raised in the debate, not least the point that the contribution of the music industry is not just economic. There is a huge body of evidence pointing to music’s positive impact on wellbeing, skills and employment, and in the reduction of anti-social behaviour and crime. It is not just about the money. We are supporting initiatives such as the National Academy for Social Prescribing, which the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) mentioned, to enable GPs and other healthcare professionals to refer people to a range of local non-clinical services.

The hon. Member for St Helens North mentioned tax reliefs, which have been successful in the film sector. As set out in our response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s live music inquiry last year, creative sector tax loops are kept under review to ensure their ongoing effectiveness. I have spoken with music industry representatives and I am happy to receive any evidence-based proposals for a tax relief for the sector.

The hon. Gentleman also talked about the music export growth scheme, which has been incredibly successful. Music is an extraordinary export for the UK because of its economic value and, as everyone will know, the soft power influence it has around the world. The MEG scheme has been helpful in ensuring bands and artists such as Wolf Alice can be promoted and travel overseas. I recently met the Minister for Investment and spoke to him about the importance of these schemes. We look forward to working in partnership with his Department and the music industry, to ensure that talent can access key overseas markets.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned copyright, as did the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). We support the overall aims of the copyright directive, but our imminent departure from the EU means that we are not required to implement it in full. It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect our brilliant creators, as well as the rights of consumers and users of music. I look forward to working with the music industry to ensure we achieve that and, as I have said on many occasions, I will work to ensure that we stop the exploitation of our artists here in the UK.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con)
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21 Jan 2020, 3:52 p.m.

The Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts provides fantastic opportunities for young people to develop their skills and build their confidence, but organisers have indicated that the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 place onerous requirements on licensing each individual before they can perform. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can have a proportionate system, to ensure that such fantastic festivals are not put at risk through bureaucracy?

Nigel Adams Portrait Nigel Adams
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21 Jan 2020, 3:52 p.m.

I certainly will. In fact, I will come to my hon. Friend’s constituency to discuss that important issue. If we can time that with another major sporting event in his constituency, that will go down well.

My hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (David Warburton), who represents Glastonbury and chairs the all-party parliamentary group on music, mentioned access to music in state schools, which is imperative. We are committed to ensuring all children have a broad and balanced curriculum, and the arts are a key part of that. We are revising the national plan for music education and, as part of that work, developing a model music curriculum created by an independent panel of experts.

My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell), an accomplished organist and clarinettist, also talked about music education, and we absolutely recognise its importance. I am sure he will welcome the recent announcements that reflect our ambitions on that, including £80 million for music education hubs on top of the £300 million allocated between 2016 and 2020.

The hon. Member for Cardiff Central (Jo Stevens) also referred to live music acts. We do not believe it is necessary to undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the Live Music Act 2012 at this stage. It was introduced to deregulate some of the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003, to help grassroots venues. Full scrutiny was undertaken in 2017 to inform the Government response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003. It was concluded that that was working broadly as intended.

Many hon. Members rightly mentioned our exit from the EU and visas for touring musicians, particularly the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), who—we have such a wealth of talent—is an accomplished artist. Touring is the lifeblood of the industry and we recognise the importance of the continued ease of movement of musicians, equipment and merchandise once we have left the EU. Visa rules for artists performing in the EU will not change until the implementation period ends in December 2020. They are being considered, and we welcome the views of all hon. Members and the industry on movement within Europe. It is essential that free movement is protected for artists post 2020.

Nearly everyone mentioned music venues, including the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh). She has a stunning singing voice. I was quite surprised and impressed at how great the Opposition Members’ singing voices are. That is great news and I look forward to hearing more of it. The hon. Member for Pontypridd (Alex Davies-Jones) gave her first performance here in Westminster Hall, which was as impressive as the voices of the choir at the Millennium Stadium—I have had the pleasure of listening—which certainly intimidates opposition teams.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith), a former DJ, was right to mention dance music. He mentioned grassroots music venues, as did the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss). We believe those spaces must be allowed to prosper, so we have taken a number of measures that have been mentioned to support this important sector, including the introduction of the Live Music Act 2012 and the agent of change principles. The Arts Council put in a fund of £1.5 million to support grassroots venues. In our manifesto we committed to changes in business rates for music venues. I look forward to receiving more detail on that further support for music venues soon.

The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire was right to raise the issue of diversity. Again, he is a man with no small history in the music sector, having sold 2 million albums with Runrig—and 17 with MP4. We believe that equal access to music opportunities should be available to all. The Creative Industries Council recently published its diversity charter, which commits the industry to act to create a more diverse workforce.

The hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) rightly mentioned shared parental leave. We are not ruling out further support for self-employed parents and the evaluation of shared parental leave is ongoing. We will report on that and publish the Government response to the consultation in due course.

To conclude, this Government are committed to continuing to support the fantastic UK music industry at home and abroad. I recognise the need to consider introducing a comprehensive music strategy. We want our music industry to continue to be the envy of the world.

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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21 Jan 2020, 3:58 p.m.

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive response, given the short time available to him. I also thank the shadow Minister. I concur entirely with his comments about the BBC. People such as James Stirling have put music front and centre of the BBC, across all its platforms, which is critical to the success of British music.

This has been a good debate. The number of contributions and the content of our discussion suggest that there might be appetite for a Backbench Business debate on the Floor of the House. We might look to do that later in the year. The report that provoked this debate said, rightly, that music is about numbers, lyrics, notes and sounds, but fundamentally music is about life. I cannot remember the first time I heard music, but neither can I remember a time when it was not ringing in my ears.

The first record bought for me by my aunt was by Dexy’s Midnight Runners—I am sure you can guess what her name was! My first concert was Oasis at the old Wembley Stadium. I remember when I first heard Seán Ó Riada’s Ceol an Aifrinn—the mass entirely in Irish—and the first dance at my wedding was to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. Talking to my five-year-old son about the Beatles, I pointed out to him where the Hippodrome was in Earlestown, where he is growing up, and said, “They played there.” I owe music a lot and, with my colleagues here, I will do my best to keep paying it back.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered the contribution of music to the economy and society.