‘Urgent Action Needed’ According To UK Live Music Report

UK Parliament
– UK Parliament
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a new live music report

A new report by the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee highlights the vibrancy and challenges of the UK’s live music business, without getting concrete.
After outlining the success story of live music in the UK, the report goes into three main challenges that still remain: problems in the ticketing market, trials facing music venues, and threats to the talent pipeline.
The report notes “progress” made by enforcement agencies like the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Advertising Standards Agency in bringing a number of secondary resale platforms into line with consumer law.
It also highlights changes made within the industry itself to limit the resale of tickets for profit.
However, MPs of the committee believe “viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law.
“We are concerned that while that work takes place, consumers remain vulnerable to the site’s misleading sales practices,” the report’s summary states.
The UK’s anti-secondary ticketing organization FanFair Alliance released the following statement: “FanFair Alliance welcomes all aspects of the Committee’s wide-reaching report, and especially their condemnation of viagogo.
“What we now need is action.”
Viagogo responded with the following statement: “We are disappointed that the DCMS have singled us out particularly, when hundreds of thousands of British citizens use our service to buy and sell tickets to their favorite live events every day and never experience any problems. We provide an invaluable service to UK consumers by giving them access to events in the UK and all over the world. 
“For those transactions that fall into the one percent annually where customers do have an issue, the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions the event organizers pose simply because customers have chosen to purchase tickets from a competitor of theirs. 
“We have been complying and will absolutely continue to work constructively with the CMA to make further amends where necessary, all the while putting all of the buyers and sellers who use the platform first.”
The report continues: “Measures by Google to increase transparency around secondary ticket selling are welcomed, however the Report notes that Google has repeatedly allowed tickets to be sold in breach of UK consumer protection law.  The Committee calls on the Government to set out the responsibilities of companies such as Google to ensure that advertisements comply with consumer protection law.”
The reports finds that the UK government has failed to do enough to prevent the closure of (grassroots) music venues across the country. “The Government should immediately review the impact of recent business rates changes on the live music sector and introduce new or extend existing relief schemes such as those for pubs or small retail properties to lessen the burden of business rates on music venues in order to protect grassroots venues and independent festivals.
“Further support should be given by the Government by extending tax relief, already given for orchestra performances, to other forms of music production,” the report’s summary reads.
One of the main concerns surrounding the mass closure of small and medium-sized venue businesses is the fact that it deprives up and coming talent of spaces where they can hone their skills.
In order to further support newcomers, the committee calls upon the music industry to “ensure that a greater proportion of its revenues is channelled into supporting artists at the early stages of their careers.”
UK promoter and venue operator DHP Family welcomed the DCMS report: “The conclusions echo what we have been witnessing and experiencing in small live music venues across the country, with London venues facing the greatest risks from rising costs.
“The UK has been developing new talent that has conquered the world since the sixties, but we put at risk our ability to find and develop future talent if we don’t find ways to keep our music venues open. The current situation is perilous, just today there are press reports that the Social in Soho is facing closure – just one in a long line of seminal music venues fighting for its future.
“We face landlords who are pricing live music venues out of London, massive rises in business rates and at times unhelpful Licensing Authorities – all backed up by the conclusions in the report. We urge government and local authorities to do something to protect the future of live music.”
Mumford & Sons’ band member Ben Lovett, Tom Gray of Gomez as well as DJ/producer DJ Target were among the artists that gave evidence in front of the committee to facilitate the compilation of this report.
Their evidence led the committee to conclude that prejudice against urban music and grime artists still existed within the business, risking the future of one of the UK’s most successful musical exports.
Even though the controversial 696 Form, which concerned the licensing of gigs involving DJs or MCs, got scrapped back in 2017, venues still demonstrated unfounded concerns over licensing, according to the report.
Hip Hop artist ShaoDow, for instance, cited a club cancelling a gig at short notice when it discovered his style of music over concerns it would lose its licence if the performance went ahead. Other rappers had faced similar experiences, according to the report.
Chair of the DCMS committee Damian Collins MP said: “The UK is witnessing a boom in live music with increasing numbers attending concerts and festivals, giving a boost for the economy, with home-grown talent like Ed Sheeran taking that success across the world.
“Yet for all its vibrancy, away from the headline acts the music industry is also facing stark challenges. Bad experiences with ticket resale platforms are damaging trust in the industry, smaller music venues are closing at an unprecedented rate, and the future of the talent pipeline is at risk.
“We’re calling on the Government to review the effectiveness of the law intended to prevent consumers being ripped-off when buying tickets for live concerts. The Government shouldn’t rely on the work of voluntary groups to take on the giants in the ticket resale market but make sure there is effective action to end exploitation, and greater transparency and redress for ticket-buyers when things go wrong.
“The DCMS Committee has taken today the highly unusual step of issuing a warning to the public against using a major secondary ticketing site until it complies fully with consumer law.”
Collins continued: “When it comes to live performance, it’s shocking to hear that grime artists are continuing to face prejudice, which risks hampering the success of one of our most successful musical exports.
“Urgent action is needed if the live music industry is to continue to make a significant contribution to both the economy and cultural life of the country. We also look to the music industry to make sure that enough of the big money generated at the top finds its way down to grassroots level to support emerging talent. It happens with sport, why not music?”