Charlie Clinton, a musician and the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary candidate for London’s Holborn & St Pancras has launched the Save the Future of Music campaign.  As the prospective parliamentary candidate for Camden, renowned for its live music scene, Clinton is backing the Music Venue Trust’s call for a levy on large venues to support grass roots music and is calling for further support to better protect the future of the industry. 

Brits are rightly proud of our country’s contribution to music. From the Beatles and Queen to Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and Adele. Not to mention our orchestras and choirs, the West End, world famous venues and festivals.  We’ve built a powerful musical legacy over the decades. But the foundations of that legacy are crumbling.

Access to education is unequal and in decline, with just 15% of state schools offering sustained music tuition, rising to 50% for independent schools. Over the last decade GCSE participation has fallen by 25%, A-Levels by 50%.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in noise complaints across the country – which poses real risks both for venues, as we’ve seen with Night & Day in Manchester, and musicians ­–­ look up Fiona Fey’s struggle with Lewisham Council.

Grassroots music venues [GMVs] have been subsidising musicians at the expense of their own margins, making them extremely vulnerable to the many increased costs of recent years. Some 13% of GMVs stopped offering live music last year.

Brexit has added to the challenges for musicians by making it more expensive to tour Europe – with the lowest earners being hit hardest, losing on average 49% of their EU revenue.

Councils are being squeezed for funds leading to cuts in arts budgets. Festivals are ceasing to operate. AI poses both a fantastic opportunity for creatives but also puts musicians at risk of losing control of their IP.

Wherever you look there are signs that our industry is in trouble. If we don’t take action now, more talent will go undiscovered, and music will cease to be a viable career path. In ten or twenty years the country will realise what we’ve lost, but it will be too late.

This is why London Liberal Democrats are calling for all politicians to work together with the music industry to save the future of music in the UK, by offering a fair deal for musicians and all of the associated small businesses.  Specifically we are calling for:

  • A levy on large venue ticket sales to fund grassroots music venues.
  • The restoration of funding for music education
  • Protection of musicians’ right to practice at home
  • Protection of existing live music venues from unreasonable complaints
  • Removing barriers to musicians touring the EU, and vice versa.
  • Pragmatic regulation of AI protect the IP rights of musicians.

It is my hope that the first of these will shortly be delivered by the current parliamentary committee investigation into grassroots music venues, but there’s a lot more work to do.  We’ll be working with local councils where we can to update relevant local policies on noise complaints and local arts funding, and lobbying MPs to make national changes.

You can show your support by signing our petition: giving us more leverage and enabling us to keep you up to date with how you can help. You can find the petition here.