Louder Than War Logo

Louder Than War LogoIt’s been a tough year.

The toughest.

But out of adversity potentially comes triumph.

Is this the point in time when music, potentially, like many industries creates a new model? For decades way too much money has been funneled into a tiny percentage at the top – this needs to change.

Post Covid, Brexit and the streaming controversies this is what we would like to see done in business terms…

This list is not final – please feel free to critique, add to or comment…

1. Brexit – There must be a creative freedom of movement across the EU and the UK or the next generation of bands and crews will be stopped before they have even started.

There is a campaign for a musician’s passport – this should also cover crews as well.

A freedom of creative movement is good for everyone’s economy.

In 2021 festival and showcase events are crucial to breaking new bands.

It’s a totally different world to Roger Daltry’s imaginary sixties.

The government have been appalling in dealing with this but still have time to redeem themselves and guarantee some sort of future for UK talent.

Economically this is vital as music and the creative arts are one of key industries in this country. It’s a prestige industry that gives the UK ‘brand’ a warm glow.

We do not need the potential financial nightmare of getting visas to tour like for the USA (up to 5 grand for UK bands to get visas for the USA and about 50 quid for their bands to come here).

We do not need to fill in arcane carnets at every border or get a visa for each country traveled through plus all manner of problems with haulage, tax and insurance…it will destroy the next generation of bands.

2. Streaming – This issue gets debated endlessly and whilst Spotify are not the only offenders and the model is more complex than meets the eye this needs a drastic overhaul or a brand new model.

If the main streaming companies don’t work out a fairer system then a new model will come in and take them out like the way myspace collapsed years ago. A higher royalty rate and payment per stream are vital here. The time of talking is over. We need action now. This week. Would fans pay more per month is the bands were guaranteed to get the money? can bands get paid fairly per stream? can the major labels and publishers also play fair?

3. PRS – The scandal that broke recently about the PRS Livestream tariff which would have been crippling for many bands and promoters. The PRS is perhaps key in collecting artist royalties but whilst sat in their well-healed ivory towers in Kings Cross they seem to have lost touch with the musicians, the venues, the promoters and the struggling creatives out here.

In these conditions promoting is a nightmare and any extra bill is crushing.

Please listen to the people on the frontline. Please listen to the promoters. Please listen to the venues.

Is it time to reform the PRS and make it more proactive in creativity?

4. The venues. The Music Venue Trust is doing a great job holding the fort and fighting the venue’s case but it’s also time for the upper echelons of the music biz and many of the multi-millionaire stars, who were launched through these very venues, to put something back. The UK is rich in talent and poor in financial support.

Talent will not thrive in a lottery.

Talent will not thrive in a cultural desert.

5. Music should be for everyone. Like all businesses, music has become more and more of a plaything for the more well-off. That’s ok – talent is everywhere but we need to reach the people who have talent but have no financial support, rich parents, or structure to get their music out there. This has to happen now before really we lose the so-called ‘lost generation’.

6. Youtube…just as bad as streaming, youtube need to put their hands in their pockets and pay the creatives. It’s become a great unmentioned source of amazing yet unpaid content.

7. Greens and Eco touring – The planet is fucked but we still have time to do something. There are many ways to green up your act. It doesn’t mean less fun but means new thinking from bands and fans. Are bands willing to travel by train to gigs? (Like they did in the 60s and 70s) Will venues be given support to have readily supplied backlines in place to save haulage? Will fans get out of cars and use public transport to the venues?  obviously not easy for everyone but we need new thinking. Will the venues be central to thriving pockets of post-pandemic city centre economies? There have been some attempts to green up like with Massive Attack working with Ecotrictyy and Manchester University on a bigger tour – can this be made to work across the whole music sector – green travel, cut waste at gigs, zero plastics, green energy for venues, car shares.

8. A more diverse mainstream media. The mainstream media seems to routinely ignore whole swathes of music like metal and rock and other genres. These are no specialist musics – they are huge with upcoming talent that needs helping to get to the spotlight. Can licesnce paid for medias cover more diverse music?

9. Equality. The stage should be an open space for whatever sex, creed, colour…more initiatives needed. Also open up more trad male domains like production, engineering, road crews etc etc

10. Live cast – the future of live music will heavily rely on live cast – what tech will be shaping the future? can it be made to work in the creative’s favour…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.

5 COMMENTS

  1. At grass roots entry level we need a ban on friends and family venues – ones that only open when a band can bring a crowd. Don’t get me wrong if you can fill a venue then fair enough but we have all been to gigs to see a mates band on a 5 band Bill were the audience of aunts, uncles and workmates disappears each time the act changes. We need venues that early week have free entry so you can learn to play in front of strangers. If you progress to opener on Wednesday you deserve a fee, progressing through to the weekend headliner slots. Venues should build audiences on the quality of the acts – they shouldn’t rely on bands bringing family and friends as it’s not a sustainable model and just exploits young impressionable acts. Anyone a band brings in should be seen as a bonus not a requirement.

  2. Completely agree with this. Hopefully there will be a resurgence in music when the pandemic is over and more new and exciting bands break through.

    I especially agree with the points made regarding spotify and the media. I absolutely loathe spotify and how its owners are completely ripping off acts and yet people are using it for “convenience”. It’s pathetic certain music “fans” will pay a fiver for a pint or twenty quid on a pizza yet whine about buying an album. As for the media they have been ignoring certain genres since the end of Britpop. If you go to the NME page now the only acts they will be reviewing are the same fey looking art school ones they’ve been pushing since the mid 2000s. The music press seems to have this weird, narrow fixation on “indie” acts whilst ignoring more varied bands.

    It would be perfect if the press stopped lauding Miley Cyrus after she does another one of her kareoke covers.

  3. On the streaming debate I would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 30 to be able to use Spotify et al.
    Bizarre I hear you cry but its not its actually common sense if you think about it. Most under 30’s have probably never bought a physical record/album/cassette they might have bought the odd download but to them music is a disposable commodity. Now us older people use Spotify in a way we used to use the radio to listen to new music (because we already own most of the old stuff) and if we hear something we like we are more likely to go and buy it in some physical format so we own it we can smell it touch it and play it. So you see its common sense!!!

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