Leaders of the UK music industry have made an urgent call for action in response to concerns such as grassroots venues frequently closing, artists unable to afford to tour and a lack of protection for freelance workers.

During the first edition of the Beyond The Music conference in Manchester (11-14 October), the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (pictured speaking) said the UK music industry needs to “rip it up and start again”, with the aim of starting a “music industrial revolution”.

Beyond The Music co-founder Sarah Pearson raised concerns about there being no music export office in the UK and the fact the UK currently sees one grassroots venue close every week on average.

Pearson stressed that there is “no protection in place” for the freelance UK music industry workers who make up 75% of the total workforce.

Pearson said, “We have award-winning artists who can’t afford to make a living from their music anymore. We have breaking and established artists who can’t afford to tour.”

Pearson also said there is no “collective duty of care policy” in place to support the mental health of artists and a climate pact that has “slipped down industry agendas”.

Pearson added that AI is “another threat to the value of music”, while the industry is also “lagging behind” on its diversity promise.

Beyond The Music

During the conference, Burnham said the industry needs to be “re-wired” across the regions with the aim of making Beyond the Music a regional and structural decision-making body to act like a devolved UK parliament for the music industry.

Burnham said, “Due to Beyond the Music’s unique co-operative constitution, member groups are already forming around key issues including access to visas and supporting grassroots venues.

“The music industrial revolution has begun and with open and inclusive membership we expect it to only grow and become more powerful from here.

“Echoing what was said by Cath Hurley of the Liverpool City Music Board in our panel about ‘Creating A UK Parliament For the Music Industry’, we need to rip it all up and start again.”

The conference also saw executives of Manchester’s two biggest venues – Co-op Live executive director and GM Gary Roden and ASM Global director of sales and marketing Gemma Vaughan – discuss with Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd how to tackle the “collapsing grassroots music ecosystem”.

Beyond The Music also hosted musicians including Aitch and Rita Ora; trade bodies including the Musicians’ Union (MU), British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Music Managers Forum (MMF), The Ivors Academy, UK Music, Association of Independent Music (AIM), PRS/PPL and LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment).