Access All Areas October 2019 - Page 13

OCTOBER | TRENDING sized venues, where the next Adeles and Stormzys will hone their craft. The report advised that the effects of these small venue closures might not be felt immediately, but the next artists generation of artists could be severely crippled if we don’t maintain these important cultural spaces. In response, Government said: “Small venues may need to adapt existing business models to focus more strongly on social value - for example, reaching out to new and diverse audiences. That is why Government welcomes initiatives such as the Music Venues Trust’s new pipeline investment fund.” Its response also pointed to a number of policy changes it has made in the last few years, aimed at helping small businesses: “Since Budget 2016 the Government has introduced a range of business rates measures in England worth more than £13bn over the next five years. This includes switching from RPI to CPI indexation, increasing the frequency of revaluations, and doubling the threshold for 100% Small Business Rate Relief to £12,000 from April 2017.” It concluded: “The departments leading on policies impacting venues, including DCMS, MHCLG and the Home Office, [must continue to work] with the sector through regular meetings, sharing of evidence and exchanging ideas and good practice.” Festival monopoly One key issue raised in the report is that of festival monopolisation – an issue Access covered last issue (September). The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) published a report last year which showed US company Live Nation now owns more than 25% of all major UK festivals – those over 5,000 attendance. The AIF presented this evidence to the DCMS, which recommended to “ask the Competition and Markets Authority to consider conducting a market study of the music industry”, in order to assess whether it is fair for consumers, artists and promoters. The Government said it had no authority over the CMA, which is an independent regulator. It then went on to point to a previous ticketing market review which took place in 2016, saying: “Government worked with the CMA and the National Trading Standards Board to take enforcement action against ticketing platforms and sellers where necessary. This has had some impact on the information provided to consumers, but work is ongoing.” Paul Reed, CEO of the AIF, expressed disappointment at the lack of action from Government on the issue of festival monopolisation. He said: “Following a robust and wide- ranging inquiry into live music from the DCMS Select Committee, this is a derisory response from Government. Referring to the Waterson Report avoids the breadth and depth of the issues AIF has outlined in terms of the widespread dominance of a single company, Live Nation, across the live music sector. “It is well established that competition issues in the live music sector go way beyond ticketing, and we will continue to ring the alarm bells around the systemic problems arising from the increasing grip of vertically integrated major corporations along the live music supply chain, and the effect this has on competition. “The problem is only going to get worse if it is not addressed properly and swiftly. We will be writing to the relevant Government Ministers accordingly.” So – what is the government doing? The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘ninth session’ report is huge - full of carefully researched information that fairly and clearly details all of the most pressing issues facing the live music industry. The House of Commons’ official response, by comparison, feels insufficient. Although the House of Commons has acknowledged many of the issues facing one of its most important creative industries – worth £4.5bn to the economy in 2018 – it has not committed to any action. Its response amounts to little more than lip service, raising questions about whether it really recognizes the value of the live music sector in the UK. What do you think, eventprofs? We highly recommend reading the DCMS report to gain an overview of the state of live music in the UK. You can find the full report in the online version of this story at 13