M Magazine 2021 Year End Issue

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IWD + 2021’s biggest music industry moments


Contents New for 22


Andrea Czapary Martin’s End of Year Message


Yard Act: Dark Days are Over


Big Jeff’s Return to Safety


Can Music Lead the Way in Fighting Racism?


No Music on a Dead Planet


Nubya Garcia: Music Always Remains


Changing Step: Nigel Elderton


Building a Legacy


The Rights Stuff


Belfast: City of Music


Music for Recovery


Touring vs Brexit


Safe Spaces


Changing Lanes


The Great Escape: First 50


Access All Areas


BBC Radio: A British Institution


The Show Must Be Paused: What Happened Next? 58

Editor’s welcome Just as the world begins to return to normality, the pandemic pulls the rug from under us. After the euphoria of summer, the live music industry is suffering blows reminiscent of March 2020 as Omicron cancels swathes of shows and venues once again sit empty. But — as this end of year special endeavours to highlight — there are many reasons to be hopeful as we look forward into 2022. Despite the ongoing impacts of COVID and Brexit, the talent and creativity that exists within British music remains unrivalled, the industry-wide effort to become more inclusive is showing no signs of slowing and performers are taking the lead in confronting the climate crisis. Music has been a lifeline throughout this testing period, and these are some of the defining moments that have impacted the lives of those creating it in 2021. Maya Radcliffe - Editor, M Magazine


prsformusic.com/m-magazine Editor Maya Radcliffe Art Director Carl English Creative Director Paul Nichols Contact magazine@prsformusic.com

Photo: Holly Fernando

PRS for Music Outreach team — Claire Rose, Dan Jones and Stuart Belsham — predict who’s set for success in 2022. Offering up a range of fresh new talent from the surest of sure things through to some personal wild cards, one thing is for certain: the next year in music is going to be huge.

Wet Leg The ultimate in 2021 success stories — Wet Leg have leapt from unknown artists to household name in the space of 12 months. After only a handful of headline shows and festival appearances, the Isle of Wight duo have already secured a spot on Jools Holland and are about to embark on their first US tour. With their debut album due for release in April, 2022 is bound to be pivotal for Wet Leg.

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French The Kid One of the most exciting rappers the UK has to offer, French The Kid’s profile has soared since his early SoundCloud days. Born in Essex but having spent most of his adolescence in France, his bilingual storytelling marks him out in a very crowded UK hip-hop scene. Following the release of his latest track UPTOWN in November, we’re waiting excitedly for news of a bigger body of work from French.

Folly Group Deliberately more of a creative entity than a band, Folly Group are making quite the name for themselves, and doing it quickly — especially after the release of their Awake and Hungry EP in the summer. Percussion led with electronics and guitar to the fore, the group draw from multiple influences — packaging it into a pure post-punk sound. Although still early days, the future is looking very promising.

Aziya   One of the most exciting and fascinating artists on the cusp of breaking through, multiinstrumentalist, producer and BRIT school graduate Aziya can seemingly do it all. After building and solidifying a large online following during lockdown, she was invited by US megastar H.E.R. to perform on her Instagram live series Girls with Guitars. Channelling her love for psych-rock and indie, her debut single Slip! proved that the Age of Aziya is going to be seriously exciting.

Low Girl Low Girl first entered the public consciousness in 2020, with the release of her debut single ICU garnering support from the likes of 6 Music. Her follow-up Big Now is an addictive slice of synth-pop that deals with her frustration over climate change apathy and ‘destroying the planet for wealth that you don’t take to your grave.’ If her Reading performance this summer is anything to go by, we’re keeping Low Girl fixed in our line of sight.


Photo: Melia Beaudoin

Taking inspiration from R&B legends like Beyoncé, Ashanti and Brandy, West Midlandsnative Rmarni’s smooth, intoxicating sound combines elements of afrobeats, drill and neo soul. Tracks like So High have her down as one of 2021’s most exciting new voices.

Deep Tan With a style that intertwines post-punk and new wave, Deep Tan have had a big year made up of smart support slots and impressive festival appearances. Intense and hypnotic to watch live, they stand apart in a scene largely dominated by white men in more than just appearance. They’re an endlessly fascinating band with the potential to strike gold in 2022.

Photo: Benji Beacham

Sipho  Birmingham artist Sipho’s dazzling mix of R&B, gospel and electronic pop has seen him turning more than a few heads in 2021. Now signed to Dirty Hit — whose roster also features The 1975, Rina Sawayama and Wolf Alice — Sipho is quickly building a reputation for making thrilling, visceral, boundary breaking music.

FFSYTHO Northampton based rapper, FFSYTHO, is one of our favourites from 2021. A genuine internet phenomenon, the nature of the last couple of years saw her only making her live debut at Reading & Leeds in August. With a voice that’s clean, fast and addictive, it’s little wonder there’s now a mural of her in her hometown and she has a fan in Missy Elliot.

Low Hummer Fuzzed-up garage-rockers Low Hummer dropped their exciting debut album Modern Tricks in September. Now the Hull six-piece will be looking to take things up a notch as they take their impressive live show out on the road. A high-profile support slot with Manic Street Preachers has already been followed by several key festival announcements for next year — all arrows point to an exciting 2022.

The Lounge Society Building momentum during lockdown was incredibly tough, but Yorkshire’s The Lounge Society made light work of it. Not only did they sign to Speedy Wunderground, they also released a slew of well-received singles, culminating in the excellent Silk For The Starving EP. With their debut album due out next year, they look set to be a vital part of the next post-punk wave.

Cathy Jain Described by press as ‘the coolest kid you know,’ the 17-year-old Cheshire-based singersongwriter has released a string of stunning lo-fi bedroom pop gems this past year, including her debut EP Artificial. The collision of influences and genres make her the quintessential Gen Z artist and has us ready and waiting for her next offering.

Chiedu Oraka Having already made waves in the Yorkshire scene and co-created the excellent Black Kings Upon Hull documentary, Chiedu Oraka was recently awarded the PPL Momentum Accelerator fund. Due to release a new EP next year, 2022 looks set to continue the rapid upwards trajectory for one of the leading lights in UK rap and grime.

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In recent months there has been a cautious sense of optimism in the air, with many of us starting to meet in person again and of course enjoying live music together. However, as 2021 draws to a close, we once again face the threat of a new variant and concerns we may be subject to further limitations on how we go about our lives. This uncertainty shouldn’t prevent us from celebrating our collective successes, along with the innovation, creativity and resolve that has flourished and sustained us in these difficult times. As I reflect on the last 12 months, I am immensely proud of what the PRS for Music team has accomplished, and often under unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. At the beginning of this year, we predicted that the impact of the global pandemic and lockdowns would result in royalty payments falling by at least 10 percent compared to 2019. This meant that our focus on maximising members’ income, getting money paid as quickly and accurately as possible, has never been more important. Next week we will make the first of two distributions in December, and I am proud to say that, because of our focus and determination, the amount of royalties paid out will be higher than this time last year. This month’s royalty payments will also be the first via our new distribution platform Oracle+. To meet the challenges of Big Data, which in PRS terms means way over twenty trillion data lines, I have been clear that we must have state of the art tools capable of processing more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Oracle+ is such a system, a world leading flexible and scalable Cloud based service. This is a major achievement for PRS for Music, which alongside the completion of our new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to ensure we can provide a first-class service for members, I believe lays the strongest foundations for our future. In November, we announced the signing of a new agreement with MCPS, strengthening the longstanding relationship between the two organisations. The deal allows MCPS and PRS to continue the joint licensing of members’ mechanical and performing rights, which simplifies the process of obtaining a licence for customers and provides better licensing terms, efficiencies and cost savings for rightsholders. I look forward to working with MCPS in the coming months and years to deliver greater value for our respective memberships. Any review of this year must of course reflect on the industry wide debate on streaming. I was reassured to see throughout the DCMS Committee’s work a recognition of the importance of songwriters and composers, as well as a commitment to ensure the value of members’ works is much better reflected in the royalties they receive. If this year has been dominated by promoting an understanding of the issues and challenges, then the next must be about identifying and, importantly, agreeing the solutions. PRS for Music will certainly play its part, working with the government and those across the industry to grow the value of the streaming market and members’ royalties.

2021 has also seen the opening of our new home in London Bridge. The pandemic has changed the way we work, accelerating the use of online services and giving us all greater flexibility in our working lives. The new Hub reflects this new working environment, promoting creativity and collaboration across the PRS team, while using technologies to allow them to seamlessly work together. Next year, we will conclude our property strategy as we leave our offices in Streatham and complete the buildout of the Hub, which in turn will realise a million pounds a year in savings for members. This year we welcomed a new chief commercial officer, Dan Gopal, who, with over 20 years’ experience in the media and entertainment industry, has already had an impact on our licensing activities, including finalising new long-term deals with the BBC and Sky. We have also created new roles to drive forward our diversity and inclusion agenda, delivering on the UK Music Ten-Point Plan and embedding our values across the organisation. This has been the first full year for Michelle Escoffery in her newly created role as President of the PRS Members’ Council. Michelle has been engaging with members to understand how PRS for Music can better support them wherever they are in their careers, identifying a number of new initiatives, such as greater access to networking and mentoring opportunities, and you will see these reflected in our 2022 activities. At this year’s AGM I set our new ambitious vision for your society. At its heart is our commitment to protect and maximise the value of the rights that you entrust to us. Our aim is to become a billion-pound society, not in revenues but in royalties paid out; to innovate across our business and joint ventures while reducing our cost-to-income to below 10 percent. In 2022, my focus will be realising our renewed objectives, building on the strong foundation laid in the last two years. Delivering our data strategy, ensuring that PRS for Music remains at the forefront of solutions to Big Data, which in turn brings quicker and more accurate royalty payments, providing new and innovative licensing solutions which can adapt quickly to meet the rapidly changing needs of licensees, while maximising the benefits of our new CRM tools to provide even greater support to new and existing members, allowing them to better reap the rewards of their creativity. Our ambitions are high, as I believe they must be. Finally, I would like to thank the PRS for Music team, the Members’ Council, the Board and the two Chairs for their tireless endeavours. Their support and commitment are invaluable to me. Thanks also to our customers, many of whom have faced another year in the most challenging circumstances. And, of course, our thanks to all PRS members, it is your hard work, diligence and creativity which underpins PRS for Music and the entire music ecosystem. From all of us, I would like to wish you a wonderful 2022.

‘Our ambitions are high, as I believe they should be.’

A Message from Andrea Czapary Martin M Magazine | 09

Yard Act: Dark Days are Over For most artists, coming out of lockdown was a careful exercise in rebuilding momentum. This was not the case for Leeds band Yard Act, who came out of the gates like a rocket — shooting off in an increasingly vertical direction from there. For a band who only released their first single in 2020, it already feels like they’ve been here forever. M Magazine caught up with frontman James Smith to see what it’s like being caught up in this whirlwind.

Music Always Remains Nubya Garcia speaks to Ammar Kalia about her landmark year, triumphant return to music post-industry shutdown, the importance of community, and how the free music education she found in Tomorrow’s Warriors changed everything.

‘I want a long career with lots of hurdles and lots of falls. That’s what I’m excited about — being kicked down a peg or two.’ Photo: James Brown

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Photo: James Brown

Yard Act have been here before, except they weren’t Yard Act at the time. The four-piece is comprised of musicians who have achieved varying levels of success with bands such as Menace Beach, Hookworms and — in Smith’s case — Post War Glamour Girls.

band was and where we wanted to go. There were a few early songs that were slated to be singles, and we vetoed them because we were like, ‘We can do better than this.’

The band skipped through the traditional markers of indie life at breakneck speed — emerging at first into the ever-crowded post-punk landscape and skipping straight up the 6 Music playlist, before the spotlight of introductory features and interviews began to mark them out as something special.

The one single benefit of being a band in its infancy during lockdown was that it afforded them the space required to grow and develop away from the eyes of the world. ‘We felt very sheltered from it all,’ he nods, ‘We were only seeing the band grow through the internet and you don’t really know how real it is, so you take it with a pinch of salt. People say nice things and you’re getting played on the radio, but it doesn’t really connect in the same way. For a long time in the middle of it, we were just thinking, ‘Maybe this is what we are, we’re just a studio band that are never gonna play live.’’ But that would soon change. ‘As soon as we played live, we thought ‘Yeah, this is what it’s all about.’’ From the middle of summer onwards, Yard Act seemed to play every festival going — slowly turning the online buzz into real-life excitement, even taking a motorcycle accident that injured Sam and having to play one set without their drummer into account.

‘But then it went up another level,’ he explains, ‘and we knew that we’d done something here, which was funny.’ Having gone through it all before, the band were determined to make the most of it this time round. ‘We just didn’t want to waste it,’ he says, ‘which is why we made sure we kept proactively releasing tunes and really took the time to discuss what the

With much of their setlist taken from the Dark Days EP, crowds were fully on-board before they’d even seen them. ‘It was really weird and bizarre to see people singing along to songs,’ he smiles now. ‘We kind of had this oven-ready crowd which you don’t get as a new bandband — we are a new band, even a year down the line. But we got to step into

Having met bassist Ryan Needham on the local gig circuit, there was an air of inevitability around the formation of Yard Act when Ryan moved into James’ spare room in 2019. Joined by guitarist Sam Shipstone and later drummer Jay Russell, they’ve left the success of their previous bands in the slipstream. ‘You know when it’s going well,’ grins James. ‘We’ve done alright in the past and we’ve had good experiences, but we sensed from Fixer Upper onwards that this was a completely different reaction to what we had in previous bands.’

‘As soon as we played live, we thought ‘Yeah, this is what it’s all about.’’ shows with part of the set known by the audience already’. In many ways, it was almost like the pre-internet days when a cult band would come over from the States for the first time — with all the excitement that seeing them for the first time provides. For James and the band, it was a welcome position to find themselves in. ‘You can play along to that and it gives you a confidence boost,’ he admits. ‘You don’t even have to doubt yourself before you start, it was peculiar.’ This may be vastly different to the normal story of a band’s life as they skip the empty rooms and disinterested crowds stage — almost part of the natural evolution — but he doesn’t dismiss the chances that they’ll still face them at some point. ‘Yeah, maybe. We might end up in Russia!’ he laughs. ‘There’s still new land left to be conquered for Yard Act, beyond this isle. But that’s good because it brings you down, you know — variation’s good.’ He pauses for a millisecond, ‘Just playing stadiums would get really exhausting, wouldn’t it? I want a long career with lots of hurdles and lots of falls. That’s what I’m excited about, being kicked down a peg or two.’ Anyone who has caught a Yard Act festival show will know that James loves that battle of converting the undecided — mainly through a very dry, caustic sarcasm (always delivered with half a wink) that often leaves his bandmates laughing quietly to themselves as he rails about how far he’s had to travel for such a pitiful reception. ‘End Of The Road was like that,’ he agrees, ‘A third of the crowd were there for us and two thirds were like, ‘Right, we’ve been hearing about you all summer so show us what you’ve got.’ It was notably muted compared to other shows, so we had to work for it. I had to really engage the crowd and the band were going for it much harder. Those things are good though. We were maybe a little bit comfortable and a little bit cocky going into it. You don’t want to get complacent.’

Photo: Jamie MacMillan

Now, with festival season behind them, the band are finally full-time musicians after quitting their jobs to concentrate on Yard Act. But with an excellent — and at times surprising — debut album out in January, it’s perfect timing. Anybody expecting a dozen slightly different versions of Fixer Upper will be in for a shock — the track doesn’t even make the record. Instead, they’ll find a loose-limbed new wave-tinged record that brushes off those early tired comparisons to The Fall and leaves them in the dust. ‘Those comparisons are really offensive to The Fall and they’re really offensive to us,’ says James, ‘because it shows that you don’t understand either of the bands. Our writing styles are completely different — Sam has never even listened to them. Mark E. Smith would fucking hate Sam’s guitar-playing because it fucking rips!’ Moving on with a grin, talk turns instead to the album highlights. Tracks like Tall Poppies and 100% Endurance are moments that show an entirely different side to Yard Act and share a storytelling element with bands like Pulp at their wonderfully meandering and minutiae-observing best. ‘Wow, yeah, I’ll take that,’ laughs James at that comparison before explaining why tracks like Fixer Upper don’t make the cut these days. ‘We knew that we didn’t want to replicate that when we put Peanuts out,’ he says. ‘We just wanted to not become obsessed with trying to write other singles, but instead explore other avenues of what we could explore. I think the album does that, and I don’t think the singles reveal the full extent of it.’ In a world where it’s often easiest to play it safe on a debut, it’s a suitably bold decision from a band who know they’re in for a big year. With UK and US tours in the diary already, work has already slowly begun on album two. ‘You have to play the game and ride the wave a bit,’ he explains, ‘If we’re completely hot this time next year and can’t stop, we need something else to keep us going. You don’t want to stall at a hurdle, you know? I think we’ll follow up the album quite fast.’ The rocket that is Yard Act in 2021 is showing absolutely no sign of slowing.

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Big Jeff’s Return to Safety The return of live music has meant a great deal to a lot of people — from artists and crew through to venue and industry staff. But for members of the live music community who view their local independent venue as a safe space and a place they can find like-minded people to connect with, it represents so much more. With many of those venues staffed by close-knit teams of passionate music fans, there is a familiarity and communal aspect that can — and has — transformed lives. In a period defined by isolation, it’s no surprise that a recent study by LIVE found that 64 percent of people said their mental health was improved by attending live music events. One person who has found solace in venues is the legendary Jeff Johns of Bristol, otherwise known as Big Jeff. A man known throughout the country for his passionate and encyclopedic knowledge of music, Jeff is also an acclaimed artist who recently hosted his own exhibition — Welcome to my World — in Bristol. We caught up with Jeff to discuss his life in music, and how some of the venues most at risk during the pandemic often provide the most comfort. Thanks for making time to chat, Jeff. We were looking at the return of live music this year and thought that you might just be the person to chat to. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who go to more shows than me. How many do you think you’ve gone to this year? I’m terrible at keeping count. There’s been only a couple of nights where I’ve had to take the night off because of having to take a PCR test or when I had the exhibition. I had to isolate the couple of days before that just to make sure, but even during the exhibition I was thinking it was ten yards away from two very good gig venues. Technically it’s on my way home.

How did you feel when shows first came back? I still get a bit anxious about being in crowds but usually by the time the music has started I’m a bit more relaxed. Going back to the bigger venues in Bristol, it took me a little while to feel safe. I feel that all the venues have been very responsible. My first non-socially distanced gig back was Dogeyed and Toodles & The Hectic Pity at the Exchange. Everyone was masked-up and keeping space from each other — all a little nervous. It was really lovely to go back to a place like that and see the community. It was also good to see that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling a bit hesitant.

Having been to Bristol a few times, I ‘d magine that you see the same people at a lot of the gigs… It’s lovely to be in these venues again, especially places like The Exchange or The Louisiana. They are more than just a room with a stage, they are my safe spaces. There are people there that are like family. Some of the venues have gone so far and above what was expected of them — places like the Trinity are almost like a community centre. It was how they had to adapt to survive. The Louisiana turned into a pizzeria and going to some of their socially distanced gigs, I’d be watching bands whilst eating dinner. Having a pizza at every gig would be fatal for my waistline. I didn’t do it at every show — I’d also be looking at the dent in my income. But to be honest, I’ve found myself going to the merch desk at every gig and buying stuff, mainly to support the artists. I reckon since coming back to shows, I’ve probably spent at least a couple of grand on merchandise especially if someone’s brought out something that’s a novelty. Recently, I went to see Self Esteem at The Fleece and bought one of her pillowcases. I didn’t necessarily have any pillows to put in it, but I still got the pillowcase. Do you remember your first ever gig? Oh God, this is really cringe-worthy. There was a boyband all-dayer in Newport in 1994. East 17 headlined with Michelle Gayle, Pato Banton, Craig McLachlan, Ultimate Kaos with a K and Deuce. Also Backstreet Boys and Peter Andre before anyone knew who the hell they were! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t Pato Banton. How was it? Great! I mean, I was 11. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for pop music. I primarily went because East 17 were famous. But then my second proper show was something which shook me. I accidentally ended up watching Skunk Anansie just before they released their first album. Being 12 years old and seeing this Black skin-headed gay singer singing songs about racism and religion was really powerful. When did it become a really big part of your life? I guess since my teenage years. Occasionally I’d be trying to twist my parents’ arm, telling them there was something I want to go to. I grew up 40 miles north of Bristol and there was virtually no public transport. If I wanted to go to gigs in Bristol or Gloucester, I would have to sweet talk my parents into picking me up. If there was a show I really wanted to go to they’d buy me a ticket, but I’d often have to do chores to earn the money. They were like, ‘If you wanna go and see this here’s a load of logs you’ve got to chop,’ especially if I was going to go and see someone classic like Black Sabbath or Aerosmith. I think I earned about three pounds an hour. That’s how I got records and CDs as well. I would spend ages in a record shop fixated until I’d get to the point where my parents would just leave me. I’d still be there two or three hours later. What was it like for you when the first lockdown hit? Obviously, we all have ups and downs with lockdowns. I was quite busy then so I don’t think I had the worst of times, but I was really worried for the venues and potentially losing places like The Louisana or Crofters Rights — spaces which really meant a lot to me. I was so glad I could be positively involved in some of the campaigns to save them.

‘Some of the venues have gone so far and above what was expected of them — places like the Trinity are almost like a community center.’ You called The Louisiana your safe space. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? When I saw it originally, I was like, ‘Wow, look at all these cool bands coming through here.’ I would turn up frequently, but I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I wasn’t always as emotionally open as I am now — I was very shut up and was going through a bit of a difficult time. I was very different. I would quite often go in there — whether I had a ticket or not — and would just stare at the posters on the walls. If anyone asked if I was alright, I would say ‘Yeah,’ and go back to staring at the posters. But often when I would go there it would be the same person on the door, so having that same person there meant that the familiarity gradually chipped away at me and it made me open up. I think it was about that moment of building trust and then it was like I became a part of their family. That’s why those places are so important isn’t it? I’m sure plenty of others would have felt the same thing… Quite often it’s the artists as well. I found myself watching the bands, and if I enjoyed the gig I’d go up and say thank you to the performer. Sometimes I swear I’d confuse and bewilder people because they could be 15-year-old kids, and I’d give them a long list of who they sounded like. Having smaller venues means that people can build relationships through the music. There’s been some shows like Fleet Foxes and Beach House at the Louisiana where it’s so beautiful, you almost feel everyone crying in sync. Or going to see Scissor Sisters where everyone was doing disco routines. I miss the Scissor Sisters. Especially on the first record, they were great. They really were a phenomenal live band, that record is full of so many pop bangers. What’s next for you then? I definitely hope more of the art, especially considering the reaction to Welcome To My World the other week. I think I’d really like to take that exhibition on tour round different cities. And I want to do stuff where if we do that then I want to work with different organisations. We worked with Off the Record, which is a great Bristol-based youth mental health charity. We worked with Talk Club and had Running Punks involved as well. But to be honest, we’re just seeing what next year has in store for us. Lastly, is there anybody left that you still want to see live but you haven’t? Oh yeah, it’s gonna sound random, but someone like Chaka Khan. Ain’t Nobody is an absolute banger. She’s responsible for some of the greatest disco of the 1970s. There are definitely a few people like some of the newer artists like Ganza — an American noise post-punk outfit. Also South Korean artists — like Leenalchi — who I’d really love to see.

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Can Music Lead the Way in Fighting Racism? Chair of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce, Ammo Talwar, discusses the Ten-Point Plan and outlines his drive to create a more equitable, inclusive music industry.’across the music business.

There has always been a lot of crossover between the worlds of sport and music. When it comes to the fight against racism and boosting diversity and inclusion, some of our leading role models in bringing about positive change are music or sports stars. However, the various crossovers between sport and diverse communities ended in a toxic mess when it comes to Yorkshire County Cricket Club which now faces allegations of ‘institutional racism.’ ‘A Venn diagram of stupidity’ was the blunt conclusion from Julian Knight, the chair of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on Yorkshire’s handling of the racism scandal that engulfed the club following the racism allegations made by whistle blower Azeem Rafiq. This is a scandal that is not going away — not least because it will resonate with so many people from ethnically diverse backgrounds in the worlds of sport, the arts and elsewhere. They know that Azeem Rafiq’s experience is far from unique, and that many of them are being denied the chance to reach their full potential. However, I believe both arts and sports can learn from each other’s mistakes. We can all improve the ways they tackle racism, as well as boost diversity and inclusion. I hope that the world of cricket and sport can learn something from the work we have been doing in recent years in the music industry. UK Music is the collective voice of the UK Music industry and as the chair of its Diversity Taskforce, I have been working to try to make the music industry a beacon of excellence when it comes to rooting out racism and making our industry as inclusive as possible. Yorkshire faces the prospect of a humiliating but vital corporate reset as it tries to build bridges with groups ranging from the local Asian community to its fans and sponsors in the wake of its appalling treatment of Azeem. However, it should not have to be that way if organisations take action to move the dial and ensure they are truly

representative of wider society and take a transparent approach to their work on equality, diversity and inclusion. Since I became chair of the Taskforce, I’ve been fortunate enough to help in selecting a playlist of practical initiatives that make up UK Music’s current push for greater fairness in the industry. This playlist contains all the big anthems — diversity, inclusion, equity, accountability, fairness. As everyone knows, these are slow burners, not overnight sensations, and will take time to deliver the results we all want. However, we do already have a few real hits to report when it comes to driving real progress over the past year. To deliver radical and tangible change, we worked with stakeholders across the music industry to draw up our Ten-Point Plan which was published last October. Just over a year on, that Plan is properly embedded and has become the music industry’s template for transparent action on equality, diversity and inclusion. Our Ten-Point Plan makes clear how we aim to bring about positive changes and who is accountable for tackling inequity in the music industry. Crucially, it also offers routes to support and advice and has a sharp focus on working together. A key tool in the fight to boost diversity in the music industry has been our determination to seek the evidence to identify where changes are needed. Our bi-annual diversity survey provides regular hard data that ensures industry leaders can see the impact of the decisions they make — for better or worse. Metrics are important because they provide the technical hard stop that is essential to discover what is really happening, especially at board level and among senior management teams. However, evidence is not everything. I strongly believe that data is a technical, not an ethical, tool.

‘A key tool in the fight to boost diversity in the music industry has been our determination to seek the evidence to identify where changes are needed.’ Data can help us gain an understanding of why exclusion is still happening in so many workplaces, but despite what everyone says, knowledge isn’t power. To make change happen — and to harness the potential for creative and economic growth carried by those who are currently locked out of decision-making roles — we need to take action to bridge the gap. The pay gaps on ethnicity and gender are clear from the evidence that we and others have collected. But there is also a gap between where we are now and where we need to be tomorrow. We need to work together, not just in the music industry but right across sport and the arts, to close that gap. From the boardroom to the green room, organisations such as the Black Music Coalition, Black Lives in Music, PRS Foundation’s Power Up, Action for Diversity and Development and Women in CTRL have all set people talking about the work we still need to do.

We are trying to be honest and transparent about how we look and behave as an industry. Where we identify that more change is needed, we are working together and striving to make those improvements. We are drawing a Venn diagram of honesty and best practice which we hope others will follow. Only by listening to and including more diverse voices will we be able to shatter the glass ceilings and tear down the internal barriers which are holding back our attempts to better those who love the music we make. Our drive to change the music industry is still a work in progress, but I hope our experiences will help others in their journey to helping create more diverse, inclusive and welcoming workplaces.

We hope that the incremental changes that the UK Music Diversity Taskforce continues to make will cascade down right across the music industry.

Ammo Talwar

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No Music on a Dead Planet Following the Climate Music Blowout in Hackney this October, M Magazine spoke to IDER, Black Country, New Road, Savages’ Fay Milton and more about the climate crisis, and to find out what positive actions they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint as touring musicians. It may once have been up for debate, but the fact that we are in the middle of a climate emergency is now undeniable. All of us will soon have to face up to the sheer scale of the task ahead, and the music business is no different.  Since launching in 2019, Music Declares Emergency has been bringing artists, professionals and organisations together in order to help the music industry become greener. As their current campaign points out, there can be No Music on a Dead Planet.  For co-founder Fay Milton, also drummer in post-punk band Savages, it is the latest step in a journey that was inspired most recently by Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, but firmly has its roots in her childhood. ‘Reading that book was like taking the pill in The Matrix where you begin to see the reality,’ she remembers, ‘I could either go back, block it out and forget about it or I could live in the real world and do something about it.’ Thankfully, she opted for the latter. With COP26 on the horizon, October saw many of music’s finest and most imaginative minds brought together for an event at Hackney’s suitably named EartH venue. The Climate Music Blowout played host to a series of conference panels which cast a keen eye on many different facets of the industry, from manufacturing and sustainability, through to tour routing and streaming.

Throughout the day, the pressing need for change was a reoccurring theme, and for many its clear change isn’t coming quickly enough. Of course, neither the campaign nor the cause is new. Even in the last few years, artists have found a new confidence in standing up and speaking out. From The 1975’s collaboration with Greta Thunberg to Coldplay’s forthcoming use of kinetic dance floors to power each concert — one of a host of ideas in their plan for a fully sustainable tour next year — attention is being firmly fixed on the subject.  But artists are only one cog in the industry wheel, and many others have a part to play. As the vinyl boom continues to show no sign of slowing down, the high energy usage in the act of manufacturing them make it an obvious area of interest. For Karen Emanuel, chief executive of Key Production, research into degradable vinyl and carbon-balanced products is key. Meanwhile, Drew Hill, managing director of Proper Music Group, points out how the current delivery method of that vinyl is flawed. ‘It’s all made on the continent and is simply travelling too far to get to a customer,’ he explained at the conference. Some artists are already starting to explore new ideas, IDLES being one such band that are using vinyl off-cuts, leftovers and damaged records to fashion their new Ecomix vinyl.

Photo: Jamie MacMillan

Black Country, New Road

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‘Have the conversation about tour routing with your agent and your manager early, and don’t take no for an answer.’ Photo: Jamie MacMillan

Electronic pop duo IDER have taken a different route. ‘We did an older album in a heavyweight vinyl and CD, which weren’t made in any kind of eco-friendly way,’ explains one half of the duo, Megan Markwick. ‘We made sure we did it in a much better way this time round, using vegan ink and biodegradable materials as much as possible.’ In the Netherlands, ‘green’ vinyl shows a potentially huge decrease in environmental impact — estimated at around 60 percent. In a climate where typically 80 percent of sales for a number one album are still physical, the urgency is stark. The reliance on physical sales in a digital age is a hot topic. Under the current chart rules, chasing a high position comes at a huge cost. ‘One CD sale is worth 1500 streams,’ explained Peter Quicke, co-chief executive of Ninja Tune. ‘Using ‘bundles’ is just wasteful consumerism to get into the charts. If we can change the chart rules to make streams count for more, then there is less motivation to push multi-formats when fans only need one.’ But while many may be looking forward to the end of the bundle, for others it seems to shine a light on the fact that many artists and songwriters feel underpaid by streaming platforms. In fact, many in attendance feel there is the clear correlation between the streaming underpayment and wider environmental damage.  For Milton, it’s simple. ‘If musicians got properly remunerated for their music, then they wouldn’t have to create tons of merch,’ she says, ‘and they wouldn’t have to go on these epic long tours that are not healthy for musicians, or for creativity.’ Charlie Wayne, drummer in Black Country, New Road, wholeheartedly agrees. ‘It’s just the state of music at the moment, 80 percent of all

our revenue comes from performing live, and you feel completely powerless to change that.’ The irony of being forced to do something that’s unsustainable for the planet in order to sustain a career is not lost on him.  Megan Markwick captures the mood in the camp when she says, ‘It’s not like it was twenty years ago. We have a lot of streams on Spotify and are completely broke. I feel like we’re going to wake up one day and be like, ‘Do you remember when we had to do that?’ Her bandmate, Lily Somerville, puts it in even more simple terms, ‘For us not to tour all the time, the streaming services need to pay us properly.’ It’s not easy being ethical, of course. ‘There used to be this concept of not selling out,’ Milton points out at one point during the conference, before asking to a predictably warm response, ‘Maybe we should bring it back?’  ‘We do have the power to challenge big business,’ states Markwick. ‘Maybe not to the extent of having kinetic dance floors, but certainly to veto plastic bottles on riders and the like.’ Perhaps we will see artists moving towards only licensing tracks to ‘ethical’ businesses in the same way that sports teams and organisations are slowly turning their back on taking advertising deals from ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle brands. It’s all part of a series of infinitely small steps that will — in any hope —all add up if replicated across the industry.   Many feel that one of the biggest opportunities is around the touring itself. ‘Even though we love touring and playing shows, you can’t deny its impact,’ says Charlie Wayne, ‘but hopefully on this latest tour, we’re offsetting all the carbon released when we travel.’ Admitting that Black Country, New Road are in a more fortunate position than others he

Ider continues, ‘We’re not Ed Sheeran, but a lot of bands don’t make any money from touring at all. At least we can make sure that some of the money we make goes towards what it should be spent on.’  ‘It’s more a question of ‘what is even an option’ for a band like us?’ asks Lily Somerville. ‘Of course, we could say we don’t want to tour, or only do a certain amount of it. But if that is the biggest platform for us to grow and develop, and we’re not getting the income support elsewhere, then that is the biggest sacrifice of all.’  When asked for what advice she would give to artists starting out today, Fay Milton keeps it simple. ‘Have the conversation about tour routing with your agent and your manager early on, and don’t take no for an answer,’ she says, before adding a caveat, ‘But also, don’t beat yourself up. Have the conversation and do your best. We don’t have electric planes!’ Other positive actions seem to be within reach nowadays. Whether that’s opportunities around venues supplying high-quality in-house equipment, including lighting and decor, or whether in the future band merchandise can begin to replace the need for physical music — free unique download codes being stitched into t-shirts was one idea — it is where creativity meets necessity that progress may be made.

is feel guilty about it and start to take action. But I don’t think any of us should consider ourselves a hero for doing something which should have been dealt with a very long time ago. We’re not going to be the people who are going to fundamentally suffer from climate change. Don’t talk to me, or musicians, talk to someone in Bangladesh whose life has already been completely destroyed by the lifestyles that we’ve maintained for years.’ With the climate emergency looming dangerously over all of us, there is a distinct and pressing need for a little less conversation and a little more action. ‘This is mainstream now, it’s not a niche issue,’ says Milton, ‘and that’s thanks to all of the hard work from the protesters and awareness raisers that have been vilified in the press for the last few years.’ If history has taught us anything, it’s that music and art are at their best — arguably their most powerful — when uniting and galvanising people for a common cause. Time for a new generation of protest songs perhaps; for the biggest fight of all.

One thing is for sure, the conversation has begun in earnest. ‘When I first brought it up with my team that I wanted to try and do less flights whilst touring, everyone looked at me like I was insane,’ laughs Milton, at pains to underline that it didn’t cause any arguments within the band. ‘But now I think if someone brings it up then it has to be taken seriously. Things have really changed.’ That’s a view that Charlie Wayne agrees with, ‘We’re definitely in the right sort of place, but it’s also a conversation that’s happening in parallel with the world spiralling completely out of control,’ he points out. ‘Musicians like us, people like us, we’ve got relatively privileged backgrounds globally. We’re able to go on holiday and travel, far beyond our remit and far beyond what we should be doing. So literally the least we can do

Black Country, New Road

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Photo: Jamie MacMillan

Photo: Adama Jalloh

‘I’m not trying to carry the responsibility of everything I represent on my shoulders because I’m only one person. If I can just inspire more women to continue playing because they see there’s a space for them, then I’ll do that forever.’

Music Always Remains Nubya Garcia speaks to Ammar Kalia about a milestone year, her triumphant return to live music post industry-shutdown, and how the free education afforded to her by Tomorrow’s Warriors changed everything

Nubya Garcia is finally back on tour. After two years of coronavirus-related delays and endless rescheduling, the saxophonist and composer is speaking from her hotel room in Hamburg, on day 24 of her European run.  ‘We have another seven days to go and it’s been so amazing playing live again, as well as quite surreal,’ she says, with a mixture of tour exhaustion and adrenaline palpable in her voice. ‘Some audiences are ready from the second you get onstage — they’re really excited to be back — while others have a few barriers up from two years of isolation, so I can see them taking some time before they engage more. Either way, people are ultimately so thankful for the music.’ The past five years have seen a meteoric rise for Garcia. Initially training in jazz as a teen by attending Londonbased free workshops, such as Tomorrow’s Warriors run by bassist Gary Crosby, Garcia went on to study in the junior programme at the Royal Academy of Music before attending Trinity Laban.  Throughout her studies, she built up a network of fellow London jazzers, including drummer Moses Boyd, tuba player Theon Cross, trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey and keys player Joe Armon-Jones. This group and their collaborators have

been responsible for turning the English capital into the epicentre for a new approach to improvised music — one that eschews a fixation on traditionalist jazz standards for a genre-defying blend that instead incorporates the music of the city’s diasporic identity.  The result has produced two EPs for Garcia — 2017’s Nubya’s 5ive and 2018’s When We Are — both fusing afrobeat rhythms with electronic programming and Garcia’s languid tenor sax lines. While 2020 saw the release of her much-anticipated debut album, Source, which pairs the melodic force of Dexter Gordon with Latin cumbia rhythms and the references of Garcia’s mixed Guyanese and Trinidadian heritage.  Yet, much like everything else over the past two years, the journey to Source was not straightforward. ‘When we went into lockdown in March 2020, we had 18 months of amazing opportunities booked globally,’ she says. ‘To then see that disappear bit by bit was devastating.’  The itch to still release her music remained though. ‘I wrote the album in 2019 and it’s an entry into the diary of my life from that time — I was asking searching questions about identity and the nature of collective power,’ she says. ‘I’m a

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‘Being in a supportive community that hasn’t stepped on each other to get anywhere is the key for me. That in itself is more joyful than any other accolade.’

Photo: Adama Jalloh

different person spiritually, personally and creatively now. In the end, I felt it had to come out soon because if you don’t let things go, you will never move forward.’

the Royal Albert Hall stage in August, as Garcia and her band traversed frenetic jungle rhythms and gospel-laced vocal refrains during her Proms performance.

It was a shrewd decision. Releasing the album in August 2020, it has since precipitated a stellar 2021 for Garcia, producing a Mercury Music Prize nomination, debut performances at The Proms and Glastonbury, as well as winning the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Instrumentalist. She also released a remix album, Source We Move, in October. The record featured edits of her tracks from the likes of broken beat pioneer Kaidi Tatham and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow — prompting praise from Iggy Pop who wrote, ‘If I hear anyone say: ‘Things aren’t as good as they used to be,’ I tell them to listen to the Moses Boyd remix of Pace by Nubya Garcia.’

‘I still forget that The Proms happened, and it wasn’t even that long ago,’ she laughs. ‘It was a really surreal and phenomenal experience. I was deeply nervous just before I went on stage but somehow, I made it through.’

‘There’s things like that Iggy Pop quote which really stand out and that I’ll remember forever,’ Garcia says. ‘It makes me feel like I’m on the right track, since someone I admire and who has been making their own incredible work for ages feels something from my music.’ Earning praise from a sonic mould-breaker like Iggy Pop feels appropriate for Garcia’s music, which often toys with the barriers of genre to produce a free-flowing instrumentalism. Nowhere was this more apparent than on

Stepping into the iconic space also had personal resonances for Garcia. ‘My granddad used to take my mum to the Proms when he first came to the UK and my parents in turn took me when I was a kid. I also played there when I was at school, so I know my way around the building. It was a beautiful full-circle moment to be doing my own headline show now,’ she says. Alongside these milestone performances, Garcia has also been able to witness her fellow London jazz community succeed in recent years, with Moses Boyd earning a Mercury nomination for his 2020 album Dark Matter, Theon Cross releasing his second LP Intra-I to critical acclaim, and Joe Armon-Jones setting up his own record label. ‘I can’t think of anything more amazing than seeing your people do well,’ she says. ‘Being in a supportive community that hasn’t stepped on each other to get anywhere is the key for me. That in itself is more joyful than any other accolade.’

There are still challenges, though. According to research from Women In Jazz, only 5 percent of UK jazz instrumentalists are women, while research from the Guardian found that UK festivals are still falling short on delivering gender-split line-ups, with the 2021 edition of the Isle of Wight festival being 73 percent male.  ‘There’s a lot of festivals that don’t make a song and dance about a 50/50 line-up, they just implement it in a quietly intentional way,’ Garcia says. ‘This is how we normalise gender diversity because when you make it loud, it makes people think that they’ve only been booked because they identify as a woman.’ Instead, Garcia is playing for her own metrics of self-worth. ‘I’m not trying to carry the responsibility of everything I represent on my shoulders because I’m only one person, and that’s tiring. If I can just inspire more women to continue playing because they see there’s a space for them, then I’ll do that forever,’ she adds.  This uncompromisingly pragmatic stance is one that has been honed by Garcia ever since she began playing saxophone at 10 and realised that her progress partly relied on financial bursaries and programmes that encourage diversity.

‘I was a young Black girl who was not rich and I was very aware that not everyone needed these bursaries like I did,’ she says. ‘Having access to free music education is key and was key for me. It’s getting much harder now, which is heart breaking, since places like Tomorrow’s Warriors allowed me to not be the only Black person in a room and that meant I could just focus on the music.’ With her visibility acting as a role model for other youngsters and Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors mantra of ‘each one, teach one’ remaining with her, Garcia’s musical focus continues. In fact, the rollercoaster of the past two years has proved how it is the impulse to create that will supersede all else. ‘If you look at our history, music always remains,’ she says. ‘You can remove it from concert halls, or the internet can crash and Spotify can disappear, but you can still make music just by yourself and within your communities. It’s something that is incredibly spiritual and part of the human experience, so it will never leave. That gives me a great sense of hope.’

Nubya Garcia performing at PRS Presents, October 2021

Photo: Patrick Gunning

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Changing Step For more than forty years, Nigel Elderton has been at the beating heart of the British music industry.

and how PRS was going to be able to continue to process royalties and get distributions out on time.

A seasoned publisher, Elderton launched his career at Chappell Music in 1975, moving on to EMI Publishing and eventually peermusic, where he would become managing director and European president.

Fortunately — due to the herculean efforts of PRS staff — we were able to accelerate money through the system and into the hands of our members who were experiencing hardship. As you can imagine my priorities, and that of our Members’ Council, was to help management achieve these goals in the best way we could.

Now chairman of the PRS Members’ Council — he was reappointed for an additional three-year term in 2020 — Nigel guides directors in their decision making to protect and preserve the value of PRS members’ music. In the year he was re-elected, he was responsible for spearheading the historic governance changes that would allow PRS to improve its membership experience. But, since COVID-19 rocked the foundations of the industry, the urgency to cut costs and improve efficiency has increased. It’s no secret that music creators have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Despite PRS distributing a record £699.4m in 2020, the last 18 months has arguably been the most troubling period its members have experienced en masse in recent history. As we reach the end of a turbulent 2021, M Magazine spoke to Nigel to ask whether COVID has changed the state of play for the PRO, why becoming a more inclusive collections society is key and what it means to sit on the PRS Members’ Council. The last two years have created unprecedented challenges for the music industry. How has the pandemic impacted the work and priorities of the Members’ Council? The PRS Members’ Council has continued to work effectively, albeit remotely. Directors and management have made a fantastic effort to adapt. I think one of the biggest challenges for us initially was that we weren’t in a room together to discuss the impending pandemic

Speaking of priorities — obviously the distribution of royalties is number one — but could you give an overview of what the main priorities are for PRS? As you say distribution and accurate processing of royalties takes precedence over everything else, particularly in such challenging times. That’s closely followed by the completion of several major negotiations that we concluded last year — the BBC and Sky are just two that come to immediately to mind. TikTok was also another notable deal that we managed to close off. What has been the toughest decision that the Members’ Council has had to make in the last 12 months? I would say a lot of the toughest conversations have been around the impact of the pandemic and how we can help members. In the very early stages, we had to mobilise the Member’s Fund into helping those that had been severely impacted by the lack of live performance work. Andrea [Czapary Martin, PRS for Music’s chief executive] and I worked on an emergency relief strategy which — along with other industry initiatives — was able to deal with the immediate needs of those who had lost all their live income. PRS underwent a governance restructure in 2020. Can you tell me a bit about that and how successful you think it has been? I’ve been on the board now nearly 30 years and, during this time, I don’t think we ever conducted a governance review — certainly not

to the extent we have this time around. I felt — as did most directors — that this was well needed as the landscape of our business has changed so much in recent years with the fragmentation of rights. How has that worked out over the last 12 months? COVID has obviously had some impact on progress, but the PRS Board has now changed to the Members’ Council with the smaller PRS Board sitting underneath dealing with the day-to-day decision. This has made the whole process a lot more nimble. The new structure also allows directors more time for reflection and to look at the more strategic issues which has often been difficult when attending so many meetings. Of course, another important consideration with having fewer meetings is the associated cost savings, as well as the time we can invest in other areas of the business. As I have said we have gradually started to implement these changes which were voted in at the 2020 AGM. We have also appointed our new President Michelle Escoffery who’s doing very well in her role and is beginning to engage with different parts of our membership as well as industry partners. What is your message to anyone that’s thinking about standing for the Members’ Council? Are there any myths you’d like to dispel for anyone that is thinking about standing? I would say that any Principal Voting member who is interested in becoming involved in the running of their society should stand. The Members’ Council is the representative body of a membership of 155,000 writers and publishers — if you feel you can contribute by bringing your skillset into the decisionmaking process, then we encourage you to do so. I certainly don’t want to put anybody off from standing, but the learning curve can initially be quite steep, particularly if you’ve not been on any industry committees in the past. The one thing I would advise people to do is get involved in the many groups and sub-committees. There’s a commercial advisory group (CAG) where licensing issues are discussed and the PRS licensing committee draws views which then feed into their deliberations. That’s a great way to start if you want to understand what’s going on in terms of the value of rights and how we license our rights to users such as broadcasters and Digital Service Providers (DSPs). I certainly think that part of my role and that of our President’s is outreach and engagement with our members. It’s about encouraging ‘new blood’ and helping to make those would like to contribute feel confident enough to stand for election. It would be true to say that we have had a predominantly white, middle aged, male Board over many years, but recently we have made great strides to a create better gender balance and to encourage a more diverse mix of candidates. We still have some way to go to be truly representative of our membership and the Members’ Council — Michelle and I have initiated a subgroup of the Council to look at how we can make the process of standing for the Board easier and more inclusive. Some people — particularly on social media — have commented that PRS should focus less on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and more on distributing royalties. Why is a company-wide D&I strategy so key to PRS’ success?  As I have said we should have a Council which is reflective of

‘We should have a Council which is reflective of our membership’. our membership and, if we don’t have that, I really don’t believe hand on heart that we are able to hear their voices. This is not just a problem for PRS, but our entire industry has woken up to the fact that ethnicity and gender representation is a real issue that we have to tackle. Thankfully we all want to see change and we are working hard to rectify this in numerous ways. As for the criticism that we should prioritise our focus on the operational aspects of the business — I disagree. I see no reason why D&I should not be interwoven into all that we do, not just singled out as some sort of project — it should form part of the day-to-day engagement with our members. Without our members we have no royalty distributions! What would you say are the biggest challenges PRS face in 2022? The music industry has been changed immeasurably by COVID. Our financial performance in 2019 gave us a strong foundation to face the impacts of the pandemic, but we are still dealing with the repercussions two years later. On a more holistic scale, the fragmentation of rights continues with rights changing hands at a rate never seen before. We must ensure that PRS remains one of the best PROs in what has become a very competitive world. This is the only way we can retain members and have them value what we do. This is of paramount importance — to provide a cost efficient, accurate and transparent service which is best of breed is our mantra as we head toward our goal of being a billion-pound turnover society. If you could change one thing about the music industry today, what would it be? If I could, I would change the perception of the value of music. There are a number of campaigns that have been launched recently that pose this question: Do songwriters and publishers receive fair value for the rights that we represent? There are many differing opinions on this depending in which part of the musical echo system you inhabit. I think that is quite right that having now entered the digital age we should test those values against those who also share the digital pie. Finally, what has been your favourite live music experience since we’ve been allowed to go to shows again? I was extremely fortunate to be able to visit Glastonbury between lockdowns to attend the small festival that Michael Eavis organises as a thank you to the residents and business owners of the town. I was so disappointed that Glastonbury didn’t happen again this year, but at least I could get down there to enjoy some live music. We sat in the field next to that wonderful old Saxon church. It was a perfect heady summers evening, just right for the first live music that I’d heard in over a year. I really did make me realise just how important and how much I missed the live music experience. It was just the charge of electricity that I needed after such a terrible year of the pandemic. A truly magical evening.

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Photo: Ernest Simons

Michelle Escoffery

Building Legacy PRS Members’ Council President Michelle Escoffery and Black Lives in Music chief executive Charisse Beaumont on building a brighter future for Black people in the UK music industry.

In October, Black Lives in Music (BLiM) launched part one of its groundbreaking report into the experiences of Black people in the UK music industry. The survey of 1,718 performers, creatives and staff revealed microaggressions, pay disparities and discrimination are rife, and that Black women are the most likely to face significant barriers to entry. The organisation — co-founded by Roger Wilson and Charisse Beaumont in March 2021 — was built to act as a catalyst for meaningful change, provide opportunities for musicians at grassroots level and support and empower Black artists. As 2021 draws to a close, President of PRS’ Members’ Council, award-winning songwriter Michelle Escoffery, spoke to Charisse at length about the results of the survey, the industry giants that sit on BLiM’s Board and the legacy she hopes to create for Black women in music. Michelle: Firstly, I need to ask — as the owner of Beaumont Media Worldwide, chief executive of Fight for the Dignity of African Women and Children, board member of Help Musicians and chief executive of Black Lives in Music — where do you find the time? Charisse: Doing something that is quite public facing, while other roles you’ve mentioned are not — it’s a learning curve. With Fight for the Dignity of African Women and Children, I operate and I have a team that do the frontline work, whereas Black Lives in Music, for example, is the total opposite. It’s a lot of external facing, hard negotiating, speaking, nurturing, creating partnerships — it’s constant. How’s it been for you? I know that’s a broad question. It’s been exhilarating. It’s been really fulfilling. As a mother, I do a lot, we all do. But I’m fulfilled. I don’t have to worry about anything. I have a beautiful family, beautiful children. But by helping people I fulfil the sweet spot that’s in me, but obviously being able to do something that’s as close to my heart as diversity and inclusion is important to me. It’s not just for our communities — Black people — I want to see equality across the board. But we have to deal with where the buck stops and where it’s the worst, which is with Black people. I don’t have a hero’s mentality. I’m just grateful that I get to do that — it’s what drives me. It was tough in the beginning because people would say, ‘Oh, are you BLM, Black Lives Matter?’ A lot of doors shutting, ‘Who are you?’ It’s so good now — a year later — the same people that were shutting the doors, the same people that were telling us ‘No,’ are all standing side by side with us asking “how we can partner with you?” How do you see yourself as different from, say, the Black Music Coalition? If you see it as a race, we’re all trying to get to the same finish line — we all want to see equality for Black people. We all want to see a level playing field. We’re standing next to the likes of Power Up and it’s not a race to see who wins. We’re working in line with one another. If we all play to our own strengths and stay in our lanes, it can work concurrently. For example, at BLiM, we do research those other organisations can use for the work they do. Power Up

empowers mid-range experts and Black entrepreneurs and artists by utilising our research. Black Music Coalition empowers executives and are galvanising the major labels and independent labels for equity and change. We don’t do that. But we go in there as a backup or side by side with them, so we complement each other very well. Looking at the stats from the Being Black in the UK Music Industry report, 63 percent of Black musicians have experienced racism in the UK industry. 86 percent of Black music creators and 88 percent of all music professionals agree that there are barriers to job progression. What was the most surprising statistic that you came across? None of it was a surprise. I guess the one, ‘Oh, I didn’t know the gap was that big,’ was on Black women in music. We always knew there was an issue there, but what the report illuminated was that Black women are the most disadvantaged group in the music industry. Reports you might have seen prior to this and what our report complements is, ‘Black women don’t really have these jobs,’ but no one knew the figure in terms of the pay gap, in terms of the racism and the sexism, in terms of data and stats and percentages. No one knew what impact all of this had on mental health, which is so important. Since being in the music industry, 39 percent of Black women said their mental health has declined. 15 percent of have sought counselling. That means there’s work to be done to ensure that Black people in the music industry — especially Black women — get the support they need. Racism and mental health issues are not isolated. If you’re faced with microaggressions or direct racism every day, barriers to progression, seeing other people surpass you or get more paid more than you — you know you’re not getting the same opportunities as other people. It will affect your mental health. 25 percent of Black professionals are earning less than 25 percent from making music this compares to 5 percent of White professionals and only 38 percent of Black women are earning 100 percent of their income from music compared to 73 percent of White women. If you look at funding — a huge issue — 39 percent of Black women are successful with their funding applications, or at least one of their funding applications is successful. White women — 73 percent. Why? It’s not equal because as Black people we are forced to become entrepreneurs, we have two or three jobs just to try to live an adequate life. Where someone else can sit and go into their 9-to-5 and get promoted, promoted, promoted, and live their best life. That doesn’t happen for most Black people in the music industry. Of course, all these things affect your mental health.

‘I understand it’s taken a lot to get to this point, and there’s a lot of work to do. People’s hearts have just got to be willing.’

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‘It’s a big ask to eradicate racism, that’s almost impossible. But you can make the music industry more diverse and more inclusive.’

What has been the most encouraging results for you from the report? We have our research arm and then we have another model that works with organisations to look at their governance, recruitment, marketing and the way they attract talent. One of our partners, an orchestra in a remote part of Ireland. There are no Black people in the area. None. So how are they going to get Black people in? They are willing to run a programme where they will employ, pay for travel and accommodation and host and these Black musicians, just so they have a chance to be a part of that orchestra. They paid the same contracts as everyone else but they are willing to go the extra mile and cost to diversify. The model is already there, but they’ve never done it for Black people. In addition, we have to also help these organisations to create an environment where these players can thrive. Let’s just activate. We’re doing some work with another organisation who do music supervision to make sure we get Black composers’ work on film. Through the programme they train Black composers, and teach them how to become music supervisors. When you’re creating those pathways and those programmes, there’s nothing like it in the world, and that’s the fruit that we will see in a few years’ time. You’ve got some real heavyweights on your taskforce, including Paulette Long OBE, Yvette Griffith, Jazz Refreshed, Shabaka Hutchings and Orphy Robinson. How did you go through your selection process and how have you found working with such strong-minded individuals? You want to know why we appear so hard? (Laughs) Our tails are getting kicked behind closed doors. I call them the mighty taskforce for all the right reasons. They challenge us — we’ve been schooled. In terms of the selection process, we just asked them, ‘Please, please,’ and they came. But then when they came, we didn’t realise they were going to come like a hurricane. I remember the first meeting, man. (Laughs) I’m still scarred by it. They were on us, ‘Get it right. Change that. Do this. Do that.’ May I add without Paulette Long there would be no BLIM. She has been a rock and a pillar for our organisation: an advisor, a sounding board. She will come into meetings with us as well, ensuring that, ‘You need to listen to us.’ We’ve also received advocacy from other charities such as Help Musicians which blew the door wide open for us and made it a lot easier.

Do you have a musical background or do you just have a love for music? I cannot play or sing a lick. I’m out of tune, I don’t have the patience to learn an instrument, but I have an incredible ear for music. I know music. I understand it. I can hear it. I know who’s a good artist. I used to run my own record label. I used to have my management company and I can say categorically, not on a show-off thing, my artists went to the top. My artists won Grammys. My artists topped the Billboard charts. I never knew where this love or passion for music came from, then recently my grandfather on my dad’s side passed away from COVID. I was never close to him. At the funeral I found out he was this soundman. He could sing, but most importantly he was able to find good artists and bring them together, and he created his own sound. He travelled the world. He did all this. And I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, that’s me.’ That’s where you got it from. That’s where I got it. I couldn’t pinpoint it from my mum, I couldn’t pinpoint it from my dad, all my uncles that I was around — nobody did music. I just couldn’t figure out why I love music. Then in my grandfather’s eulogy I was like, ‘What? That’s me. Oh, my gosh.’ This is the first time I’ve shared this story. That’s where it comes from, my grandfather who passed away. He was an amazing soundman. He had a great ear for music, and I’ve got the same. It comes from him. What is the legacy that you want to create for Black women and also those coming through BLiM? I don’t know why I’m getting emotional. If we could see women actually running Spotify the MD’s or CEO’s — not just a Black division — actually, running YouTube Music. If we could see orchestras that were inclusive that were a blend of all different colours, not just white. It’s a simple ask. Give us that level playing field. I think we can do it, if people are honest with what they pay and if people create pathways and move out of the way for people of colour who they know can do it. You will see change you will see a more equitable industry a more profitable industry. That is the legacy I want to see, which is what we’ve been crying for from the top and what everybody has been crying out for. We’re not saying anything new, unfortunately. People have been fighting for change in the music industry for over 40 years. I understand it’s taken a lot to get to this point, and there’s a lot of work to do. People’s hearts have just got to be willing.

Charisse Beaumont

If you can create a corporation like Spotify, you can level the playing field. If you can create a charity like Help Musicians or a new channel on the BBC, or a new business model in your organisation if have the mind to do all these things and make the investment needed to make these companies work? Why can’t you make any investment in equity? I don’t get it. Most of us were born and raised in this country. To be the only one or the only one of very few in a room — of course that’s going to influence your state of being because you do not see yourself. In the last six months or so I’ve seen myself when I go to certain events, I see people that look like me. If we can multiply that, how much more powerful will that be? How much more normalised will it be? Absolutely. I mean, if we’re going to the cinema — I know it’s a silly example — you see everybody. If you go and watch a film, you see everybody watching. So why if we go into an awards show, why am I seeing one and two people of colour, in the audience especially one and two women of colour? Or on a panel. As you said, over the last six months, that’s changing and that should be celebrated 100 percent. But there’s still more work there. Everyone is talking about it because everybody knows the lingo. Old White Boys Club, elitism and so on. Let’s not talk about it, let’s be about it. The report was designed to say, ‘Here you go, music industry, here’s a mirror, this is what you look like. And unfortunately, there are a lot of issues here, and race is one of them.’ Let’s deal with that, and let’s deal with it together. I really want to see all of us get together. I know with all our minds we can eradicate this thing. It’s a big ask to eradicate racism, that’s almost impossible. But you can make the music industry more diverse and more inclusive. What’s next for BLiM? What’s next for you? We’ve got our three to five-year-plan and we’re on track. But now we’re at delivering and we want to see change, and we’re

now putting the onus on the industry as a whole, with an industry wide code of conduct and quotas being put in place. That is what I want to see over the next two to three years. After that, well, I would like to see BLIM in other countries and continents. You know, I would like to see BLiM in Africa. I would like to see BLiM in America, in Europe. But we have to deal with our own backyard first, the UK music industry. What are your hopes for your children and the next generation? Obviously, I want the best for them. I want them to enter into a world where they don’t have to deal with [racism], but that’s never been seen for us, has it? I want that, and we have to play our part to make that happen. The same way that we’re dealing with climate change — it’s an emergency. The youth are powerful, they are quick thinking and they have the keys to unlock this. The only thing is they don’t have much of the lived experience. Gen Z and younger are my favourite people because they are the ones that are going to truly change the world in a way that we have never seen before. They’re going to turn this world upside down, in a good way. And I’m here for it. Well, personally, I just want to thank you for the work that you’re doing. It means a lot to a lot of people who are out here in the trenches trying to make this movement — as Paulette Long says — trying to make this movement happen. No, I’m blessed. This is beyond me. When I mentioned the taskforce and Paulette and yourself, you’re right, there are people in the trenches. We just joined, mate, we’re newbies. We’re fresh blood. That’s all it is, and we are just connecting into what’s already happening, and I’m grateful for it. If you’re an organisation and you’re interested in making a change, become a member of Black Lives in Music. For more information visit www.BLiM.org.uk .

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The Rights Stuff The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property rights. With rapid technological advances making it so much easier to record, share and exploit music, protecting copyright has never been so essential. Despite streaming services diminishing the piracy we were warned about in the ‘90s — ‘You wouldn’t steal a car,’ is embedded in the minds of most millennials — stream-ripping and illegal music downloads are still rife. No longer the preserve of music pirates, music streaming has become mainstream, and is an essential component of the modern music industry. Indeed, in matters related to streaming and copyright, the IPO’s work encompasses a number of functions. You joined the IPO this year, what are your observations about your new role? One of the main things that’s really struck me is the commitment to rigour in policy making, supported by evidence wherever possible: there’s a deep-seated culture of making informed decisions and recommendations, which helps us avoid unexpected consequences. That’s particularly important when you’re dealing with proposals for government intervention in complex systems like the music industry. Through many of the decisions we make, individuals’ livelihoods and the viability of businesses are potentially on the line, so you need to be clear what you’re trying to achieve, and reasonably sure that the action you take will have the effect you want it to.

Chris Mills Having previously worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in Parliament and at the Office for Security and Counterterrorism, Chris Mills took up the role of director of copyright and IP enforcement for the IPO in 2021 — a year that saw a Digital, Culture, Music and Sport (DCMS) Committee report calling for a ‘complete reset’ of music streaming. In parallel, the IPO carried out a research study on ‘Music creators’ earnings in the digital era’, of which the final report was released this year. It was described as ‘groundbreaking’ by the government in its aims to investigate the ability of creators to earn money since the development of music streaming. After a landmark year, we spoke to Chris about the DCMS inquiry into streaming, the future of music in 2022 and the role of copyright in works made by Artificial Intelligence.

At a more personal level, I’d say that the IPO’s commitment to being a ‘brilliant place to work’ really does hold true, and I’ve been able to draw on the support of a great team of colleagues throughout my first year. Can you tell us a bit about the DCMS inquiry into streaming, the recommendations made, what the IPO is doing to address those recommendations? The DCMS Select Committee decided to examine the impact of streaming on artists, labels, and the sustainability of the music industry. This was really timely — there has been a growing sense of streaming establishing a new paradigm of music consumption that’s different from radio, different from physical sales, which had helped to move the industry on from the dominance of piracy. At the same time, some have been saying that the spoils are being divided unfairly. We had already begun our Creators’ Earnings research project, which applied an independent academic lens to the industry. The Committee’s inquiry complemented that and examined the issues from other perspectives, too.

‘These are some big and important questions we’re seeking to address, and the answers really could have wide implications.’ The Committee’s report definitely moved the debate on — we have a considered, cross-party view on the issues and some concrete proposals about what to do to address them: for instance, providing for equitable remuneration (ER) for performers; establishing minimum data standards; improving royalty chain transparency; creating reversion and contract adjustment rights; and asking the Competition and Markets Authority to study the major labels. Most industry participants can agree to some of that — the principle of improved data standards is reasonably uncontroversial. But some of the proposals are difficult to model right now — it’s hard to know whether they would have unexpected adverse consequences, like disadvantaging certain types of musician or reducing overall investment in the UK’s music industry. And there are competing proposals like Artist Growth that we need to examine too. We don’t yet have the data to support that sort of modelling, so the government felt it needed some more time to make sure that any intervention it might make would support its aims for the music industry as a whole. Clearly, these are hugely important issues for the industry and for government. At the IPO we want to be, if you want to put it this way, the ‘honest brokers.’ So the IPO and DCMS have launched a programme of work to fill in the gaps. We’ve commissioned further academic research on ER, rights reversion and contract adjustment. And we’re convening working groups with industry to gather more data, attempt to model the various proposals, and reach agreement on steps that the industry can take itself to incentivise and reward both creativity and entrepreneurship. At some point next year, we should be ready to take our conclusions to ministers and agree next steps, potentially including legislation. But we hope to be able to announce some progress on industry-led measures before then. The IPO has launched a consultation on copyright in works made by Artificial Intelligence or with the use of AI. What does it cover and why is now the right time to focus on this topic? I think my first observation would be that AI is already revolutionising many areas of our lives. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that some technologies that we may recently have thought of as being within the realms of science-fiction are now an everyday reality. Unleashing the power of AI is a top priority in the plan to make Britain the natural home for innovators in this area. An accessible, balanced, and efficient IP environment of course plays a crucial role. We know AI can be a tool for scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists, enabling new human inventions and creations. But can it invent and create things in ways that make it impossible to identify the human intellectual input in the final invention or work? Some people think so, and some would say it’s happening already. We’re asking whether computer-generated works should continue to be protected for 50 years, and if not, how they should be protected — if at all. And we’re asking about

whether there need to be any changes to licensing or exceptions for those who want to use copyright material to develop AIs. These are some big and important questions we’re seeking to address, and the answers really could have wide implications. If your readers have views on this topic, we’d love to hear them. The Consultation is open now and closes on 7 January. What have been the biggest trends in music piracy in 2021 and how does it impact the average creator? We keep track of music piracy through a survey which measures the proportion of people who have used an illegal source of music. That actually seems to have dropped in recent years, from 20 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2020, and then 15 percent in 2021. As you might expect, more people are using streaming services now rather than downloading music. But the number of tracks downloaded and streamed per person have both increased since last year. That goes for both legal and illegal services. It’s really hard to measure the impact on individual creators, unfortunately, as there isn’t a good model for us to judge by. But through our work with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, we’re always trying to make it harder to pirate music, so that there’s more revenue for creators. What are the key priorities for the IPO in 2022? We have a busy and exciting year ahead. Looking particularly at the area of Copyright, we have the work on music streaming to complete, and we’ll be publishing the IPO’s response to the current AI consultation. We’ll be launching our new infringement strategy, which sets out how we intend to work against piracy and counterfeiting over the next five years. Our initial focus will be on building up our intelligence picture so we can target our effort against the infringement which causes the greatest harm. We’ll also be developing our partnerships with law enforcement and other parts of government to take a more holistic, joined-up approach to reducing IP infringement. More widely, we’ll be pressing further ahead our One IPO Transformation programme, which is modernising and streamlining our rights-granting systems to make them simpler for our customers to use, and we’ll be developing our net zero plan. What message do you have for PRS members on the future of music ahead of 2022? Music will keep changing, so please keep talking to us – respond to our consultations, and engage through PRS, other representative bodies, or directly, telling us how the system works for you. Copyright is there to support creativity, so to keep it relevant we need constant feedback from creators and the people who help them reach their audience. Quite simply, your input and engagement really does matter and will help ensure that UK music can continue to thrive in the age of streaming.

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Cultural DNA: Belfast The City of Music With Belfast having been awarded the coveted City of Music status by UNESCO, Harry Harris spoke to some of the city’s burgeoning talent about their hometown’s rich musical tapestry. How does a city define its culture? Or does culture emerge organically, growing out of whatever nooks and crannies it can find, squeezing whatever shape it is able to fit into? Whatever the answer to this question, it’s undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has shrunk — in some cases destroyed, the spaces culture can fit into. With venues under pressure and gigs running at reduced capacity, even the simple, communal act of singing in a room together is now fraught with anxiety. Can culture grow back bigger, by itself, or does the soil need fertilising?

‘You probably won’t find that young people are really writing and talking about the Troubles, but they’re certainly trying to address the issues that we’re faced with today.’ M Magazine | 35

Mothers in Music For an answer to this question, it might be wise to observe Belfast in the coming years — as well as study its recent history. This year it became the third UK city to be awarded UNESCO City of Music status, following on from Glasgow in 2008, and Liverpool in 2015. ‘Music is embedded in the daily lives of the city’s people,’ read the pitch document, ‘and is, right now, being harnessed to create a shared vision for the city.’ While discussions had been ongoing about an application prior to the pandemic, the suddenness and severity with which it hit was something of a catalyst in pulling the bid together, as the team began to imagine how music could play a part in any recovery — both from a creative and economic standpoint. And though these three cities are now joined under one umbrella, so to speak, speaking to Belfast’s Creative Tourism Manager Erika Clark, and Lynne Best of The Fourth Pillar, who both of whom worked closely on the bid, it’s key that Belfast shape the award to fit them, not the other way around. ‘For this title to be meaningful, it has to have a local focus,’ they say, ‘we have a real opportunity to create a model that delivers for Belfast, not to focus on what other cities have done, or failed to do.’ One person who was instrumental in Belfast receiving the award was Charlotte Dryden, chief executive for the Oh Yeah Music Centre. She tells me that as the pandemic hit, the question of whether to make the bid at all was prominent in the minds of the steering committee. ‘We all had to sort of seriously discuss “do we want to make the application for 2021, or do we hold off?” but the group felt that we needed to do this. It was a nice boost just a month ago when the announcement was made. We can try now to repair and rebuild.’

No Oil Paintings

Not only was Charlotte heavily involved in the bid, but the Oh Yeah Music Centre itself is evidence enough of the importance Belfast affords its music scene. Founded in 2007 by broadcaster Stuart Bailie, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and with help from several other Belfast musicians, what began as a lightbulb idea over some pints of Guinness one Christmas has expanded its remit from simply a musical hub, to include a venue, recording studio and cultural centre, as well as a place for talent development and career opportunities, both for artists and those wanting to get into other areas of the music industry. ‘Talent development is such a huge part of what we do. We’ve become really well connected with the wider music industry across the UK and Ireland, and the centre itself has become a place where the wider industry will look to when they want to know what’s happening in Northern Irish music.’ One person who’s benefitted from Oh Yeah’s talent development programmes is singer-songwriter Sasha Samara, a recent winner of the New Contender Award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize, another tentpole event the Oh Yeah Music Centre has its fingerprints over. In 2019, when Sasha only had, in her words, ‘a few songs under her belt,’ she was accepted

‘There’s more activism now than ever before. LGBTQ+, diversity, racism — that’s all being addressed in music again.’

Dena Anuska & Jai Sian onto a PRS funded programme to help nurture her fledgling career, and while this programme was cut short because of the pandemic, they have remained closely involved with her. ‘I wouldn’t be where I am without them,’ she tells me. ‘They’re constantly supporting grassroots, small, diverse operations in the city. The music scene thrives because of the work they do.’ When considering the history of music in Northern Ireland, it’s impossible to ignore the political history of the country too. Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘70s punk rock anthem Alternative Ulster begins: ‘There’s nothin’ for us in Belfast!’, but in the music to have emerged from the country in the immediate aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement, that politicisation was less present. ‘Bands didn’t want to write about the Troubles,’ Charlotte says, ‘We just want to write about normal everyday life and loss and whatever else, and that’s what bands did.’ In a sense, that’s also what bands like Stiff Little Fingers were doing, it’s just that their everyday life was in the middle of a civil war, but despite this new generation having grown up only knowing peace in Northern Ireland, Charlotte has seen a politicisation creeping back into the songs emerging from upcoming talent: ‘There’s more activism now than ever before. LGBTQ+, diversity, racism — that’s all being addressed in music again. Art can be that catalyst for those things. You probably won’t find that young people are really writing and talking about The Troubles, but they’re certainly trying to address the issues that we’re faced with today.’ The idea of a country’s ‘cultural economy’ has become something of a buzzword in recent years, particularly in the UK where the arts constantly have to try and make a case for themselves as something that can hold its own economically. Many have noted the explosion of South Korean culture in recent years, with cultural exports like BTS, Bong Joon-Ho and Squid Game crossing over into Western, mainstream culture and around the world, but what’s interesting is the roots of that success can be traced back to a political decision — and one guided by an economic choice — when a presidential advisory board in the 1990s noted that Jurassic Park earned the equivalent of selling 1.5 million Hyundai cars. Because culture is ephemeral, and intangible, sometimes it’s hard to imagine its value in pounds and pence. But it’s there, and in considering that it’s worth remembering that the music industry isn’t just artists, and this wider industry seems to be thriving in Belfast too. As Sasha tells me, ‘It’s such a wildly diverse scene, people are just so hungry for music. There’s so many

independent promoters and young managers who are really passionate about championing music in this city.’ The UNESCO City of Music award is already a vindication of the work being done in Belfast, and just how interwoven music is with daily life in the city, but it feels more a starting gun than a chequered flag. There is a desire to reach over 1500 musicians and music businesses annually, reach 15000 people total, and develop the city’s vacant and public spaces for cultural use in collaboration with the city’s other creative sectors. ‘We want Belfast’s citizens to experience the city as an orchestra, with access to permanent and temporary pop-up instruments and the coming together of the unusual, traditional and popular with collaborations and performances from pipers and drummers with the likes of indie and electronic artists,’ Erika and Lynne say.

Charlotte Dryden Some particularly exciting and forward-thinking outcomes of the award are a Global Music Convention on Sustainability, hosted in Belfast, looking at the role the music industry can play in tackling the climate emergency, and on a smaller scale the introduction of a Gig Buddies scheme to attempt to increase access to music events for those with learning disabilities and on the autism spectrum. It’s not just about supporting artists. It’s looking at the bigger picture.  All of this fertilises the soil. It’s sometimes more romantic to think about music scenes as these things that grow in spite of infrastructure. As elements of the counterculture that get absorbed into the mainstream by sheer force of will. But music is too important to have to fight for its seat at the table — that’s something the people of Belfast seem to have recognised a long time ago. Whatever the recovery from the pandemic is going to look like, things are growing in Belfast, and things will grow out of this award.

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Music for Recovery There’s no doubt that music has helped improve the mental and emotional health of both listeners and creators for decades. For some, that’s never been more true over the last 18 months, when many have had to deal with uncertainty, fear and stress due to the global pandemic and music has provided a source of comfort and distraction. In Spotify’s Culture Next 2021 report, 77 percent of millennials and 67 percent of Gen Zs in the UK (who were surveyed in April) agreed that they use audio to reduce their stress levels. In addition, 64 percent of Gen Zs reported feeling ‘more centred and generally happier’ when listening to their favourite music on a daily basis.

Anoushka Lucas

Tom Connaughton, Spotify’s UK and Ireland managing director, says listening habits during COVID have mirrored developments in the outside world. ‘During lockdown, we saw people leaning heavily into chill and laid-back music. But as we emerged from lockdown, we started seeing a significant uptick in celebratory streaming moments, with a 19 percent increase in streaming of the party moment and a seven percent decrease in streaming of the chill moment.’ For some creators, lockdowns offered the opportunity to knuckle down in the (home) studio and create. Taylor Swift released not one but two albums last year and has followed those up with re-recorded versions of earlier releases Fearless and Red. Charli XCX produced How I’m Feeling Now across six weeks in lockdown in collaboration with her fans, and Elton John created The Lockdown Sessions after his tour was postponed. London-born singer and songwriter Anoushka Lucas has also enjoyed a surge in creativity and found that the forced downtime reconnected her to the joy of playing piano, writing songs and making music after spending the last few years focusing on theatre. When three work projects stopped, she started playing piano every day for the first time ‘in a decade’. That led to writing new songs, which she learned to record and produce herself for the first time.

Peter Birkby

‘Every day, I’d pick a different song that I liked and worked out the chords and then I started posting videos on Instagram of me singing Disney songs or covers that everyone knows,’ she says. ‘It was really satisfying. I realised that at some point, I’ve got so caught up in the idea of making music a career, making money and being successful that I forgot I started writing songs at 14 and just really enjoyed the experience of singing them to other people.’ Charlie Glover-Wright, who is lead vocalist, drummer and chief songwriter for four-piece band Weird Milk, also found comfort in creating after being served the huge disappointment of a cancelled Photo: Gavin Joynt

Weird Milk

Photo: Timothy Casten

SXSW show and support slot on tour in the US with The Orielles. ‘The lockdown, in a creative sense, suited me quite a lot because it took away any immediate thing that we had to do. We weren’t tied down to anything and didn’t have any deadlines,’ he explains. Alongside his bandmate and flatmate Alex Griffiths, Glover-Wright found inspiration in watching films and spent time improving his production and recording skills. This resulted in the band’s latest EP, We Were Strangers, as well as a chunk of new material in the bank. For others, the isolation of the pandemic had the opposite effect on creative productivity. Composer and arranger Peter Birkby found that the lack of in-person contact resulted in a long creative block. ‘For me, I need personal and musical interactions with other people and I just stopped. I couldn’t put pen to paper or computer, or anything, it just didn’t happen. Music took a real backseat.’ Since his bands have been meeting again, however, the ideas are coming thick and fast. ‘I get ideas three or four times a day!’ Birkby isn’t an anomaly. The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) has been hosting a community drop-in that focuses on supporting musicians to build healthy practice habits and gain support from peers. At the start of the pandemic, BAPAM chief executive Claire Cordeaux says lots of attendees were saying they couldn’t even pick up their instrument. ‘Not only were they not creating, but they weren’t even able to engage.’ She continues: ‘For a number of people, social engagement and engagement with the audience is part of a co-creation — you write something, but it comes alive when you perform it with an audience. Without that, the whole purpose of doing it just seems pointless.’ Creativity can also be stalled by mental and emotional stress, which was high amongst musicians during the pandemic, according to a Help Musicians survey. Of the more than 700 musicians who took part in the study, which was published in March, 87 percent said their mental health had deteriorated over the last year. This was due to financial worries as well as concerns about the impact of Brexit on the music industry. Research suggests musicians are more likely to experience mental ill-health than the general public, regardless of a career-stalling global pandemic, so it’s even more important that they look after their health while still dealing with the fallout of the last 18 months. Now

that the industry (fingers crossed) is starting back up again and live shows are possible, it might be tempting to run full pelt in order to make up for lost time, but there are both physical and mental health risks in doing so. Cordeaux explains: ‘Bear in mind that you’re probably not match fit if you’ve not been able to keep playing and performing on a regular basis. Don’t go at it 100 miles an hour, pace yourself, build yourself up.’ Healthcare could include regular exercise, meditation, yoga, breathing or other grounding techniques that promote relaxation. It’s also important to have structure, Cordeaux adds. ‘The importance of having some sort of routine came up during lockdown but it’s also important now that things get busier to make sure you build in health routines as much as you build in your practice and rehearsal.’ When working out your own healthcare routine, remember that what works for someone else, might not work for you. Alexandra Williamson, who is founder of music industry mental health and addiction support organisation, Blue Rhythm, explains: ‘We’re living in an environment where there’s a plethora of advice out there for mental health and tips from people saying what they’re doing has completely changed their lives. But often, people feel very discouraged if they try these suggestions and they have no effect on them.’ As a result, it’s important to realise you’re your own person and check in with yourself regularly, whether that’s through journalling or just talking out loud. Williamson adds: ‘Then, set up things to reward yourself when you’ve reached a deadline or an accomplishment and set aside time to do things you enjoy.’ Finally, it’s essential to give yourself grace and to access preventative care during what might be a tough transition period. Williamson concludes: ‘We’ve heard from so many people who want to go back to festivals and when they get there, it’s overwhelming. So much has changed over the last two years that you can’t expect yourself to be the same person or return to things immediately in the exact same way and have the same responses. ‘COVID has taught us to act preventatively, whether that’s making sure you have enough toilet paper or groceries, and it’s the same mindset that’s required for your mental health. Even if you’re not anticipating high stress levels, burnout or panic attacks, it’s never too early to speak to a mental health professional and just check in.’

M Magazine | 39

Touring vs Brexit As the live industry begins to take a more recognisable shape, Mark Sutherland explores how performers are navigating the consequences of Brexit getting done.

For much of 2021, Freedom of Movement was a relative concept for UK musicians. After all, it’s difficult to contemplate touring across Europe when, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, you can’t even leave your house. But, as the continent slowly opens up and Brits dust off their passports, most artists find themselves still stuck — metaphorically and, occasionally, literally — at Dover. All too many of them are being put off from crossing the Channel by the confusing array of rules, regulations and additional costs that have come in since the UK’s transition period after leaving the European Union ended on 31 January. It might be almost a year since Brexit finally got ‘done’, but only now is the reality kicking in. ‘We were saying Brexit means you can’t tour or work in the EU at a point when we weren’t allowed to leave our postcodes,’ sighs Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music. ‘But we’re now getting to the state where it’s not just theoretical, it’s not just a warning, we’re starting to see it.’ Njoku-Goodwin notes that, after 18 months out of work, musicians and road crew are now ‘coming up against cabotage and living through the horrors of having to get work permits and visas. It’s become very real.’ At least live music’s extended hiatus means that there has also been time for progress to be made in negotiations with individual EU member states. As things stand, there is now some element of visa/work permit-free touring permitted in 21 of the 27 member states, with Spain — a key touring destination for UK acts — the latest to come on board. However, it remains a long way short of the universal, unrestricted access enjoyed as an EU member, and regulations and permitted lengths of stay vary wildly even within the 21 ‘open’ countries. Meanwhile, there has been a notable lack of progress on issues such as cabotage (which restricts UK trucks to just three stops in Europe before they must return home), CITES (which restricts bringing instruments made with certain materials into the EU) and carnets (which list all of a tour’s equipment and can be checked at individual borders). ‘How can you route a tour for next spring when you don’t know what the rules or the costs are going to be?’ asks Catherine Anne Davies, aka The Anchoress. ‘Established acts have a

financial buffer, but when you don’t have that, you have to carefully financially plan everything, and you can’t do that without information. The lack of clarity is as much of a problem as the costs themselves.’ ‘Not enough negotiation has been done,’ agrees David Warburton, MP for Somerton & Frome and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Music. ‘This has been side-lined for months by the government, and many of us are trying to push it up the agenda and make them take note. People don’t realise the size and importance of the music industry. It’s larger than fisheries and steel combined, but I don’t think that cuts through.’ Warburton has been a leading campaigner for musicians’ right to tour without restrictions and recently asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take ‘urgent steps’ to help resolve the situation. Warburton’s suggestions include opening a music export office, intensifying negotiations with individual countries and pursuing an EU-wide cultural exemption for cabotage and other regulations. ‘We’re in danger of losing cultural influence and one of our most important exports,’ he declares. ‘We punch massively above our weight in the music industry, it’s a hugely successful British export and, at the moment, it’s messed up. But it’s in no one’s interests for this to continue. It’s just a matter of the government or negotiators applying themselves to the problem and cracking on with it.’ In the meantime, however, it’s musicians — particularly new and independent artists — who have to deal with the consequences. ‘Unless you’re an established artist that sort of thing can kill you,’ says Justin Hawkins, lead singer of The Darkness, who have European dates booked for January next year. ‘The one-two punch of Brexit and Covid is devastating for bands at our level and below. We’re a moderately successful rock band and it’s a real struggle for us, but hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel…’ Frank Turner, due to tour Europe in 2022 in support of new album FTHC, is also concerned about those that simply don’t have the support or finances to cope with the increased bureaucracy. ‘Stadium bands or arena bands or, indeed, even me will probably be fine,’ says Turner. ‘The thing that matters is what happens to people on the grassroots level, people trying to establish themselves – that’s what we need to care about and pay attention to.’

The Darkness

‘We’re in danger of losing cultural influence and one of our most important exports.’ Photo: Simon Emmett

And the longer the situation continues, the more severe the consequences will be for Britain’s talent pipeline. Playing live in Europe has played a crucial role in the development of countless UK superstars, from The Beatles to Ed Sheeran, but the next generation is in danger of missing out entirely.

LIVE and the Association of British Orchestras, which drove the Spanish breakthrough alongside local counterparts Asociación de Promotores Musicales, as well as other trade bodies can make with individual states. And, of course, on whether the government chooses to get more involved.

‘The real tragedy of it is that there are going to be names, potential legends, that we’re never going to hear of,’ says Jamie NjokuGoodwin. ‘In an alternate universe these people would be taking the world by storm, but at this point in their career they aren’t able to do stuff. They aren’t going to have the career they could have had, purely because the bureaucracy and red tape has put them off.’

David Warburton has yet to receive a response to his letter from the PM, but hopes the evidence sessions from the APPG on Music inquiry into the barriers faced by musicians will keep the issue on the government agenda. And he insists that the ‘big win’ over Spain shows that progress can still be made.

Catherine Anne Davis, who toured Europe with Simple Minds pre-pandemic, says she is unable to shoulder the ‘financial and logistical risk’ involved in booking her own European dates in the current climate. Instead, she is looking for alternative routes to the market, having recently received funding from the government/ BPI-backed Music Export Growth Scheme. ‘For me, the Holy Grail was always to go into Europe and start earning decent money from shows,’ she says. ‘Historically, you would always be paid better in Europe and that would buffer the poor returns you get from playing live in the UK up to a certain level. ‘It’s frustrating, but also very sad because it’s a point in my career that I looked forward to,’ she adds. ‘It’s such a fantastic thing to be able to share your music in Europe. Not to be defeatist, but I feel like that’s not going to happen for me now.’ Whether things will improve in time for 2022’s touring season will depend on what further progress organisations such as

‘I’m sure we’ll have other good wins coming up too,’ he adds. ‘I do remain very optimistic. The government’s beginning to realise the scale and the importance of this. We will solve it; we just need to shout about it quite a lot louder.’ And with the live scene cranking up a gear, UK Music’s Jamie Njoku-Goodwin warns that everyone — government, industry and musicians — will have to play their part in helping to make sure British music maintains its prominence in Europe. ‘We’ve left the European Union and there are a whole load of realities that mean things are never going to be exactly the same as they were when we were a member of the EU,’ he says. ‘But we’ve got to keep up the pressure. It’s really important that politicians from all parties hear that this is something people care about. Every MP will have thousands of musicians in their constituency and it’s really important that those people hear our voices and know that this is an issue that isn’t going to go away.’

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Safe Spaces

There is a strange discrepancy in the fact that the ‘Me Too’ movement has swept through other areas of the entertainment industry, while the music world seems to have seen — with some notable exceptions — little effect. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that the music business doesn’t have issues with sexism, sexual harassment and abuse of its own to deal with. Naomi Pohl is well aware of these issues. A recent survey for the Musicians’ Union (the MU) revealed some stark statistics, with nearly half of all musicians surveyed stating that they had been sexually harassed at work. Those percentages increase when looking at freelancers, with a huge 61 percent believing that they are at higher risk of being sexually harassed whilst working. It is a grim picture of reality. Now, with the MU’s Safe Space Scheme set up to provide a place for musicians to share their experiences, Naomi is intent on changing the situation. Over Zoom, she begins to explain why Safe Space is so vital and how it came about. ‘People have said you just get used to the culture, women are used to it and have adapted. It takes a bit of time to say, ‘Actually, this isn’t okay.’ ‘At the beginning of the ‘Me Too’ movement when the [Harvey] Weinstein case was being investigated, we thought we needed to have a look at what issues there are in the music industry and find out if [Musicians’ Union] members were experiencing this,’ she explains. ‘We had some open meetings, including one in London which I attended.’ Describing some of the stories that she tells me, ‘One of the people was talking about a situation where a label had signed her, and a guy at the label had taken control of her life completely — controlling her finances, but also doing things like watching her go to the toilet.’

The music industry is no different to any other in its issues with sexual abuse and harassment. Deputy general secretary for the Musicians’ Union, Naomi Pohl, describes some of the stories shared at early Safe Space meetings as ‘horrendous.’ She remembers, ‘Some of them came in with boxes of tissues clearly ready to tell their stories.’

‘People have said you just get used to the culture, women are used to it and have adapted. It takes a bit of time to say, ‘Actually, this isn’t okay.’

She discusses common problems that appear throughout the UK music industry, including those surrounding its historic tour culture. ‘You don’t have female changing rooms at lots of venues, or [you get] women trying to change in their car because there’s nowhere for them,’ she says, ‘or male colleagues bursting into the female dressing room. There’s all sorts of things.’ Interestingly, this conversation is followed just a couple of days later by an (unrelated) tweet from Rebecca Lucy Taylor of Self Esteem expressing her frustration and humiliation at not having proper dressing room space in some venues. It’s apparent that this is not an isolated concern. ‘It’s a massive problem with the whole culture of the industry’, says Naomi, ‘and not just in the recording world. It’s about theatre touring, at grassroots levels, conservatoires, colleges. People have said you just get used to the culture, women are used to it and have adapted. It takes a bit of time to say, ‘Actually, this isn’t okay.’ ‘When people approach us it’s because they want to share their experiences, and mostly because they want to avoid this happening to anyone else. They accept that they’re not necessarily going to get legal justice.’ Naomi is — understandably — extremely cautious when talking specifics. ‘It’s really difficult to say but I do feel it’s taken the industry a while to face up to the facts,’ she says when I ask her why she doesn’t feel the industry has had its own ‘Me Too’ moment. ‘You still hear rumours of certain very high-profile individuals being protected by the companies they work for, and

‘There is a quite clear statement there that we’re not going to accept this kind of behaviour anymore.’ women signing Non-Disclosure Agreements. But we’ve certainly dealt with a lot of cases behind the scenes.’ One case was brought about by ten freelancers — an area of particular concern highlighted by the survey — and it’s something that Naomi is fully aware of. ‘There’s a huge imbalance of power between someone running a major record label for example, and somebody who’s entering the industry and is absolutely desperate to get a foothold. It’s somebody who can basically make or break you, recommend you, book you for work or choose not to. When they do something inappropriate in a taxi, you’re more inclined not to report it and just put up with it, which is obviously completely unacceptable,’ she tells me. It is a factor that, perhaps, goes some way in explaining why 85 percent of those who have suffered from harassment at work do not report it. When you take into account the shockingly low figures of successful prosecutions in these sorts of cases — even for the most serious of crimes (fewer than one in sixty rape cases lead to a charge in England, let alone conviction) — it is hardly a surprise. ‘It’s very hard to report and very hard to get any meaningful action,’ Naomi agrees. ‘When people approach us it’s because they want to share their experiences, and mostly because they want to avoid this happening to anyone else. They accept that they’re not necessarily going to get legal justice.’

‘If you’ve been sexually harassed, sometimes it takes time to actually let it sink in and recover from it. And that’s before you get to a point where you want to actually take legal action.’ So how does that necessary change happen in what is still an almost entirely male-dominated industry? ‘If you think about who’s booking acts in music venues, it’s mostly men.’ Naomi points out, ‘One venue even cancelled an act because they didn’t realise they were female-led!’ Many organisations have had male chief executives and male chairs for very long periods of time, and that’s replicated across the industry and trade union movements. It’s time for a positive change. Noting that Keychange is playing a vital role in that, Naomi does feel that she has started to see change happening. ‘Women In CTRL have done fantastic work saying we need more women and more people of colour at board and senior management level, and that has made a change too. But it takes a conscious effort to actually say “How are we representing ourselves?” But we’re literally just scratching the surface.’ It’s small steps, but they appear to be growing in size. Following a consultation, and years of campaigning, the government is making commitments of their own now to improve the law to protect people from sexual harassment. Simple actions such as extending the length of time in which tribunals can begin will make a huge difference. ‘It’s not like unfair dismissal, where if it happens you know it on day one,’ explains Naomi. ‘If you’ve been sexually harassed, sometimes it takes time to actually let it sink in and recover from it. And that’s before you get to a point where you want to actually take legal action.’ Other changes are still being requested, such as giving freelancers the same equivalency in protection — and in how their cases are treated — as with regular employees. Naomi is currently working on a code of practice through UK Music and involving BPI, hoping to shift the dial ever closer to zero tolerance. ‘I think having something like that in place will really help,’ she says, ‘not only because it helps to deal with issues, but it should also be a deterrent. There is a quite clear statement there that we’re not going to accept this kind of behaviour anymore.’ She is heartened by the fan and artist response to events such as the controversy involving SSD Concerts in Newcastle and the near-total boycott of Hit The North festival last month, but there is one key action that she still wants more of. ‘I’d like to see men get more involved in this because I feel like it’s women talking about it,’ Naomi says. ‘If there’s a meeting about bullying and harassment, often you get mostly female representatives there, which makes sense. But we need male allies to actually get involved too.’ As she goes on to tell a story of how having a single corroborating witness willing to back up an assault victim can help make a case, it’s clear that this is a fight that needs the whole industry to unite. To report your own experiences and cases that you have witnessed, use the anonymous online reporting tool at www. musiciansunion.org.uk/safespace or email  safespace@theMU.org. All correspondence is treated in the strictest confidence and no action will be taken on your behalf without your prior consent. The Musicians’ Union are now offering a joint discounted membership with the Ivors Academy. Find out how you can get 25 percent off the standard membership rate.

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James Brown

Changing Lanes The devastating cessation of touring in 2020 prompted a rethink from a raft of music creators used to earning their corn on the road. Here, James Hanley speaks to a trio of artists who switched lanes into other musical realms as a result of COVID — and have never looked back...

If you believe what you read on the internet, Charles Darwin said: ‘The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.’ Naturally, such is the nature of the internet, the merest semblance of research shows Darwin never actually gave the quote in question. Yet it remains somehow apt for the times we are living in: for musicians in the age of coronavirus, adaptability has been the name of the game. ‘We’ve naturally seen a shift in the way our members work over the course of the pandemic,’ says Kelly Wood of the Musicians’ Union’s live performance department. ‘Many artists whose careers have generally involved a lot of gigging and live work have had to replace that work.’ Seeking to keep their heads above water amid the catastrophic impact of the touring shutdown, an army of musicians set about discovering alternative outlets for their sonic talents. ‘As songwriters and composers, artists have strong transferable skills which they’ve been able to use to find other opportunities,’ adds Wood, ‘such as creating music for productions, music libraries, podcasts, audio books and potential theatre projects.’ Look hard enough, and good news stories reveal themselves. Writer and musician William Stokes, a member of three-piece avant-psych band Voka Gentle, is a case in point, having ventured into library production and TV work. ‘We were planning on touring throughout 2020,’ recalls Stokes. ‘But as it turned out, the lockdown got more and more strict, and we ended up having to wait a long time even to get into a studio. So, you had to adapt as the goalposts moved.’ Stokes had met with John Wraight, library manager at Voka Gentle’s publisher Bucks Music Group to discuss potentially branching out as far back as 2019. ‘I knew that I wanted to give commissional soundtrack work a

serious go,’ says Stokes. ‘Two things have materialised since then that have given me the opportunity to do that. One of them was making an album for Bucks’ standard library division. I’ve also been commissioned recently to soundtrack a six-part documentary for Vice Media. I was just looking for ways to adjust to the situation, and those opportunities came along at the right time.’ Pandemic or no pandemic, Stokes sees moving into other lines of work within music as standard for those in the profession. ‘I couldn’t tell you how many people I know who have decided to go into production for other artists, for example,’ he says, ‘even though some might see that as a total nuclear option to get subsidiary income in. But as far as I’m concerned, that’s a totally normal part of the lifestyle.’ James Brown, guitarist and songwriter for Leeds rock band Pulled Apart By Horses, says the cessation of touring left him struggling for purpose and hit his money-making ability hard. ‘We were getting plans together to go out on tour, but then lockdown came along so it came to a stop and I had nothing to do, literally, absolutely nothing, other than watching BBC News every morning just to see what was going on,’ he says. ‘I guess it was the same for a lot of people who were selfemployed and ended up hitting a brick wall — you have to find something else to do to make up the money you’re not earning. You’ve got to pay the bills, basically. ‘After maybe a couple of months of the first lockdown, I got my head together and started thinking about what I could do creatively, more than anything — not even in a financial sense at the time, but more as an outlet to keep my sanity.’ Having built a studio in the cellar of the Leeds bedsit he resided in at the time, Brown started approaching contacts in the arts world and offered them his music services for film and TV soundtracks.

William Stokes

James Vine

Photo: Hannah Sommer

‘As songwriters and composers, artists have strong transferable skills which they’ve been able to use to find other opportunities.’ ‘I reached out to a few directors I knew and said, “Do you by any chance need some music? Because I have nothing to do and I’ll do it for free,’’ he says. ‘And obviously a couple of people were like, ‘Yeah, of course, if it’s free,’ so I did pieces for a couple of short films. ‘I didn’t really think anything of it other than that it was a creative outlet for me. But off the back of that, I got some paid work to do production music and library music, and then some TV and film stuff for Universal. And I’m literally about to finish work on a Mexican horror film at Abbey Road. I guess it was one of those things where one thing leads to another and it helped me get through not being able to create and work as a musician. I had this four-wall syndrome thing, and working on composition for film and TV helped me to see past those walls, essentially.’ Birmingham-based dubstep artist James Vine, aka Enigma Dubz, was able to fall back on production and co-writing work after being forced to call off his US touring plans. ‘I’ve been working as a co-writer and a producer for about eight years, on and off, in between other projects,’ he says. ‘But luckily, we got a deal with Sentric Black Rock at the start of this year and it’s really opened the doors to a lot more opportunities and clients.’ One project Vine is especially proud of involved him composing the music for the BBC One documentary Football, Gambling and Me about retired footballer Paul Merson. ‘I ended up writing the whole soundtrack for that documentary, under my own name,’ he says, ‘and then there are a handful of other briefs, which are going on at the moment. None of them have been confirmed yet, but there’s quite a few big artists who are in the mix with Black Rock. So fingers crossed, things materialise with that. ‘In a very strange way, the pandemic has allowed me to reassess where I need to be to future-proof myself. I’ve got such a varied network around me: I grew up playing classical music and then

switched to underground music, but the classical side is so much more adept for working for film and TV. I’m really hoping the Paul Merson project leads to more of it.’ However, outside the smattering of individual success stories, a recent study of 1,000 UK professional musicians by independent charity Help Musicians revealed that a third are still earning nothing from music, while 22 percent are actively considering leaving the industry. The results came as no surprise to Stokes. ‘I think the advice I’d give would simply be based on my personal experience, which is that working as a musician — even at the highest level — is a cottage industry,’ he adds. ‘It’s an industry where you show somebody what you can do, and then you basically flog your wares afterwards and hope that people like it. ‘Throwing yourself into composition does not guarantee you income, career development or recognition as an artist. All you can do is cast the net as wide as you can. And if you’re fishing in the right place, you should see some results.’ In times of struggle, Brown encourages musicians to stay cognisant of what inspired them to get into the business way back when. ‘Regardless of what you do — whether you’re in a band, you’re a singer-songwriter, or are composing for film and TV — it’s so important to remember that drive you had in the beginning,’ he concludes. ‘Back then, you didn’t have anything, but you had a vision and you carried it through thick and thin until somebody listened to you. ‘If you get to that point on the ladder where you feel like the only way is down, you have to remember the drive you had to step on the ladder in the first place — because that’s what got you up it. Unfortunately, after reading those statistics, a lot of people have found themselves lost at sea. But there is a beacon out there, you just need to look for it and keep going.’

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The Great Escape: First Fifty Following the The Great Escape’s First Fifty shows — the first glimpse of the talent lined up to play TGE 2022 — M Magazine spoke to some of the artists on the bill, as well as the festival’s head of music, to find out what’s in store for the big return in 2022.

If anyone was looking for another sure sign that the live music industry is finding its feet again; look no further than First Fifty — the curtain-raiser to the curtain-raiser that is Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival. Ordinarily when May rolls around, the streets of the East Sussex city teem with industry types seeking out new music and old friends, but — as we all know by now — the pandemic put a stop to that. Thankfully, all the current signs are suggesting that 2022 will see the festival returning in-person for the first time in two years. For Albert Haddenham, vocalist in Brighton band (and First Fifty alumni) KEG, it has been a much-missed sight. ‘Brighton’s really good, but the winter is kind of bleak to be honest,’ he laughs as we discuss the return of the annual new music showcase. ‘It does become a bit of a shadow of itself. When May comes around, it’s just sort of this big explosion that’s like, “Alright, now this is what it’s all about.” Everyone’s out and going mental.’ Though this year’s Great Escape was transformed into a virtual livestream, it was never going to replace the real thing permanently. Kickstarting this new era was November’s First Fifty and Adam Ryan, head of music at The Great Escape, is already feeling delighted. A series of shows in Hackney culminating in a Brighton showcase has already thrown both a real, and

metaphorical, spotlight on the next class of musical talent. Even since their announcement, names like ENNY, Tems and Lime Garden are already beginning to make waves in their respective scenes — testament to The Great Escape’s ability to spot talent first, but for Ryan, trying to stay ahead of the curve is not a new problem. ‘Things move so fast for artists,’ he agrees, ‘We confirmed Tems on the bill and we knew it was a hot artist. But as people slowly start to announce London shows, you can see how things have exploded so fast.’ The two years out of action has — naturally — exacerbated these issues even further, with many artists getting rolled over for not one, but two festivals. Mysie is one such artist. ‘I’ve wanted to play The Great Escape since forever,’ she smiles, ‘So when I got asked to be a part of it in 2019, I was honestly just so excited to be a part of it. Obviously, then the pandemic happened.’ Despite the emergence of Omicron, things are looking somewhat hopeful. ‘The constant state of worry of all that has meant I’ve gone into some kind of autopilot,’ nods Mysie, ‘I’ve put myself in a headspace of if it happens, it happens, and that is amazing. If it does not, it does not.’ But with other city-wide multi-venue festivals happening with no reported outbreaks in recent months, Ryan is nothing but carefully optimistic. ‘People have been going to shows for a long time now,’ he points out. It’s all a far


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Photo: Rosanna Jones


cry from the days where livestreams seemed to be taking place on a daily basis, something that Mysie remembers well having done an online set for the festival. ‘I actually felt more nervous for the live streams than I did for real shows,’ she laughs. ‘Technical difficulties are always going to happen. Out of my control, though, so what can you do? I’m obviously so grateful to be in front of actual human beings now and not through a screen.’ But Ryan does hint that the festival won’t entirely be limited to the stage in 2022. ‘It feels like there’s a lot more willingness to watch stuff online,’ he says, ‘It will never replace live, but the audience has definitely changed. It’s almost like you’ve been out of the world for eighteen months — it’s a long time.’ Promising that the focus will be on Brighton and ‘real-life’ shows, he does say that they will be boosting their Twitch presence. ‘I think that coming out of the pandemic, it’s almost like the audience has discovered the internet and how live music can be presented online,’ he says intriguingly. Some artists have steered away from live-streams of course. For the multi-talented Sipho, the last two years have all been about ‘tightening and curating.’ Now, he is seeing the impact as online voices become real faces at shows — all new experiences for an artist who has blown up in status in this post-lockdown world. ‘It feels kind of like floating through the air until you do get to experience the actual interaction, the names and the faces,’ he says. ‘Seeing how different people react in different ways to what we’re doing, growing relationships with people in all these different places. We’re just having fun really, everyone appreciates being together in a room way more now as well.’ With an appearance on Jools Holland already under his belt, Sipho is carrying so much momentum that he is sure to be one of the big draws for next year’s Great Escape.

That sense of momentum is precious. For Haddenham, losing it was frustrating. ‘It definitely cut us short from what looked like a promising couple of months, and I’m sure there was plenty of people in that same boat,’ he says. ‘We had started to get really fun support slots, and then obviously everything happened. It was even more frustrating because we didn’t manage to get anything out before the whole thing. With no shows, and no records out, KEG remained firmly under the radar until what Haddenham describes as the recent ‘orgasmic release’ of their Assembly EP. Mysie was also concerned during the lockdown period. ‘I was unsure about everything to do with touring,’ she admits, ‘I didn’t even know whether I was even going to get shows this year. But I feel like everybody was in the same boat in a way.’ It was a case of hoping for the best as far as the singer was concerned. ‘I really couldn’t foresee what was going on in 2020,’ she says. ‘It was full of the unknown to be honest.’ Luckily for Haddenham and the Brighton band, the vocalist feels that they’ve immediately slotted back into the position that they’d lost. ‘It did feel very much like as soon as the ball got rolling again, we just sort of slipped back into place,’ he nods before adding, ‘We’ve got some new songs that we’ve been able to write in that space of time, so it’s all about trying to reinvigorate the passion for the old ones at the same time.’ Like Sipho, KEG have used the time wisely, finessing their songwriting approach as they prepare for the coming months of exposure as one of this new class of artists. ‘We were a relatively new band before it all happened,’ he says, ‘We still hadn’t properly learnt our places within the group. I think you can see that when we play live as well now, we’ve had that nice little period of coagulation.’

Every year, The Great Escape sweeps in with a host of new names that may be unfamiliar at first but soon become household. This next instalment feels like it could be different however — the enforced gap heightening both the anticipation and a shift in musical focus. Sipho for one has seen a change coming. ‘I was having this conversation a long time ago,’ he laughs, ‘You could feel like you were at the point of a major culture shift. Messi’s left Barcelona, Ronaldo left Madrid. All of the massive pillars of culture are moving and evolving, and the world has no choice but to shift as well. Whatever it is, whatever it looks like, it’s gonna be fun to be a part of it.’ As head of music, Ryan’s role has always been to make sure that The Great Escape is the one leading that shift. ‘It’s always about diversifying the lineup and trying to make sure it’s more reflective of what people are

‘We’re a new generation, just feeling it out and trying to see what kind of new kind of cultural world we can create.’ listening to and what’s strong and prevalent,’ he says, before immediately reeling off a list of names that he is hugely excited about having at the festival next year. A new generation of artists and fans, as well as a new era for The Great Escape? Ryan’s right to feel excited, and he’s not alone. ‘New sounds, it’s all new sounds,’ says Sipho at one point, ‘We’re a new generation, just feeling it out and trying to see what kind of new kind of cultural world we can create.’ Welcome to the new world.


Photo: Benji Beacham

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Access All Areas

Despite progress made in recent years, both artists and music fans with disabilities still face a range of avoidable barriers when it comes to accessibility — that’s why Attitude is Everything’s Suzanne Bull and Harbourside Management’s Ben Price are campaigning for change.

The founder of Attitude is Everything — the charity that works to improve Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music — Suzanne Bull discusses the pandemic undoing years of important progress, the Beyond the Music campaign, and their determination to keep fighting for equal opportunities. In amongst all the euphoria surrounding the revival of live music to clubs and venues, there are still some who — understandably — feel nervous at the prospect of returning to the stage. A recent survey from Attitude is Everything found that nearly half of disabled artists are still not totally confident about returning to the action. There is no disputing that the pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on arts and culture sectors worldwide, and its impact is still being felt. But for many disabled artists, it also threatens to undo years of vital progress made in improving accessibility in the music industry.

Speaking to Attitude is Everything founder Suzanne, it’s clear that any backsliding would be devastating. ‘We were in a good place as an industry before the pandemic,’ she explains, ‘We were working with different labels and promoters and having good conversations about booking disabled artists because they are good, not just because they should. And we were trying to bring up the issues that disabled artists who weren’t visible were frightened to disclose.’ It’s a far cry from Suzanne’s early days as a disabled gig-goer. ‘All those years ago, there wasn’t any ‘access’ at gigs. When little bits were provided, I might have been the only one using [the facilities],’ she remembers, ‘and I could certainly name everybody else in the Southeast and London that did use them.’ With Attitude is Everything quickly proving that there was a market — and indeed a clear economic impact — to improving accessibility at gigs, the intervening years brought a host of key landmark moments. From organising disabled volunteer projects at Glastonbury to running their own club nights and partnering with booking agents, Attitude is Everything have worked tirelessly to increase the visibility of disabled artists across the board. ‘Now I’m proud that we’re not just helping audiences, but we’ve proved that disabled people can be anything they want to be,’ Suzanne says before explaining the impact of last year’s Beyond the Music initiative — a three-year scheme designed to improve career

That openness and transparency is something she recommends in other areas too, with 96 percent of the people surveyed saying that they wanted other artists to speak out about their experiences. ‘They feel alone,’ she says simply, ‘like they’re the only person going through this. But they have to realise that there must be all sorts of people going through this.’ That need for visibility, for role models both on and off-stage is huge she explains, citing people like Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets — a patron of Attitude is Everything — as a massively influential and positive example. ‘If somebody on stage is visibly disabled, then honestly, I don’t think people care. Maybe the gatekeepers care, but the audiences just want good music,’ she says. prospects for Deaf and disabled people in music. ‘If [people with disabilities] want a career in music, they can get support. I think that’s really important,’ she expains. But with the multiple nationwide lockdowns hitting hard, a lot of that work risks being undone. ‘I was one of the people who had to shield,’ Suzanne divulges. ‘I haven’t stayed in since I was about 13-years-old, I’ve always been gigging or playing in bands. I just couldn’t believe I was being told to stay at home. I’m sure we all wondered at one point, ‘Will we ever be able to do our jobs again?’ she says, ‘Let alone support disabled people who are trying to be artists or work in the industry, or even just literally trying to return to attending live events.’ Thankfully live events have returned, though the worries remain. ‘The gaps and disparities that might have existed before have gotten even wider during the pandemic,’ Suzanne states. ‘Disabled people were lumped in with vulnerable people and the only solution offered was literally just to stay at home. That’s if we were mentioned at all.’ But with organisations like #WeShallNotBeRemoved starting up, pressure was applied to make sure that all were accounted for. ‘We were always saying that once the industry opens, it needs to open for everyone,’ Suzanne explains, leading on to the results of The Next Stage survey where — although the vast majority are looking forward to returning to live action — 43 percent of respondents admit a lack of confidence in the reopening processes. ‘A lot of people are scared about measures not being in place, and venues not being COVID-safe,’ Suzanne says. ‘There’s no provision for people that are still shielding, all the government support on that has just stopped, so you’re left on your own to make your own decisions.’ How safe can venues really be when guidance is nothing more than non-legally binding advice? ‘It’s about enabling artists to open a discussion with venues and ask, ‘What is it going to be like?’ That’s really important. Having a dialogue that opens up what access requirements are provided in the venue, about being able to disclose personal matters. It’s not just about whether the stage and toilets are accessible, it’s down to whether the venue is open and welcoming for audiences, artists and for employees.’ After 21 years in the business, Suzanne is adamant that there is no excuse for anyone in the industry not knowing who to contact with any questions or queries. She gives a warm, positive shoutout to venues like Clapham Grand and Village Underground for how they helped ease and others ease back into live action. ‘I definitely had an open dialogue with those venues about coming and being worried, asking how they could help me,’ she remembers, ‘and they did everything they could for me and for other disabled people at the same time.’

Though many artists found themselves able to gig more when live music was restricted to streams, there’s a sense that visibility will be key to the industry building back stronger. ‘You can’t just be a recording artist forever, and you can’t just do online gigs forever. I know that some people in the industry might think that disabled artists should,’ she says gravely, alluding to some wider feelings in the community that attitudes towards them have regressed. ‘They won’t have to change the venues if [people with disabilities] play online. It shouldn’t really be an either/or option.’

‘The gaps and disparities that might have existed before have gotten even wider during the pandemic.’ Taking the findings from The Next Stage and continuing to build a more inclusive community is key for Suzanne right now. With venues reopening, the focus is on making sure those stages play host to more disabled artists and that the previously unresolved issues are addressed. Already in conversation with the team behind Independent Venue Week, plans are afoot to really make big strides in this area. ‘We’re so excited about this, we really feel that this is a big breakthrough,’ she grins. Asked to pick one key action for the industry to follow, Suzanne replies, ‘Take active action, listen to us and then implement it. With everything that is going on with other diversities, people are actively looking for disabled people now, and they’ll call you out. People are actually saying to festivals now, ‘If we take all the male artists out of the festival, it will be empty. If you take all the non-disabled people out, it would be just as empty. Or maybe you just have Mystery Jets.’ Pointing out grimly that these are issues raised by Ian Dury decades ago, she continues, ‘One journalist once said to Mat Fraser that he’d ‘never get anywhere with arms like that, [Mat has thalidomideinduced phocomelia] well he’s still one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen and in 2012, he was playing alongside Coldplay.’ While that might not be a realistic prospect for most, what is key is that the opportunity is there for all. Understanding that the live music industry won’t truly be back until it’s back for everybody, charities like Attitude is Everything will continue battling on behalf of Deaf and disabled artists everywhere. ‘It’s got to be better this time than it was before,’ Suzanne says bluntly and definitively. ‘The emphasis from us now is that we rebuild, and that we rebuild better.’

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Harbourside Management’s Ben Price discusses the results of his survey that investigated the barriers faced by disabled people in the music industry, as well as his own experiences as a tour manager with a non-visible condition.

The conversation about disabled representation in the music industry is a broad one. Despite these positive steps forward, there is still work to be done on the most fundamental of issues — artists with disabilities are still being held back by access barriers in music venues. I recently ran a consultation in the form of a survey with nearly 150 music industry professionals identifying as having a disability or long-term health condition. The vast majority of my survey respondents were artists, and 67 percent said they had experienced access barriers in music venues.  In terms of disclosure of disability, 71 percent of respondents identified as having a non-visible disability and only 12 percent of those said they would disclose details of their disability or long-term health condition in a work situation. It’s a startling statistic, and there are many talking points to be taken from it. Firstly, if only a small number of artists are disclosing details of their disability or long-term health condition and putting forward access requirements, can we really expect music venues to become fully accessible? By opening up and talking about our access requirements, we may be able to help move these conversations along quicker.  It’s a two-way street and the other side of that is being listened to. In my previous life as a tour manager, I once had a venue manager complain to me about an access request, saying they ‘haven’t got the time to make extra arrangements.’ The attitude that someone’s access needs are ‘extra’ to that person’s job is exactly the reason some artists don’t feel comfortable disclosing. We need to create ways for these conversations to happen easily and without fear of judgement. For example, I am a big advocate for disability riders to be commonplace so that every artist rider submitted to a music venue includes

a section for access requirements. Even if none are required, this will help educate music venues that fulfilling access requests isn’t an extra job, but part of a normal show advance. Of course, disclosure is a very personal thing — each artist will have their own feelings as to whether they want to disclose — but disability riders would hopefully mean that artists or touring crew members only need to let their tour manager know what they need. Their access requests will then be sent to every venue on a tour in advance to be actioned, eliminating the daily toll of having to explain what they need and why. The fact that access to stages was the most common problem encountered by respondents was a surprise to me. Some buildings will be structurally inaccessible by nature, but the fact that some venues don’t even have ramps to stage in 2021 is staggering and shows there is still so much work to be done.  It’s not just artists that are impacted by access barriers at music venues. I recently blogged about my own experiences of working in the music industry as a tour manager with an undisclosed eye condition. My eye condition ultimately means my vision is poor in dark environments, so you can imagine how that manifested backstage in music venues. I worried if I disclosed my eye condition I would lose work and ultimately lose my livelihood. I avoided telling the artists and promoters I worked with, mainly because I was concerned they would think I was unable to do my job properly.

‘The only thing as disabling as stigma and discrimination is the fear of stigma and discrimination.’

Some more statistics unveiled by Ben’s survey in relation to access barriers in music venues include:

Since disclosing in public this year, I now realise that hiding my condition was the wrong approach. I have experienced nothing but positivity since I’ve spoken about it, and I do believe that had I had the courage to tell the people I worked with at the time, we would have been able to talk about and implement reasonable adjustments to help me carry out my work in the environments I needed. On the very limited occasions I did choose to disclose details to those I worked with, I had nothing but positive experiences. Accommodations were made to make sure I was still able to do my job. It’s an important point to make, and I know I am not the only one reporting positive experiences. But as it turns out the only thing as disabling as stigma and discrimination is the fear of stigma and discrimination. My consultation was carried out mid-pandemic when the music industry was operating mainly online. Livestreams became a regular part of our lives and artists and musicians played along but in general feared for their future. However, when I asked my survey respondents if they were ‘more’ or ‘less’ optimistic about their future in music should the industry continue to operate more online in the future, the results were interesting. Some people felt unsure, but more of the respondents said they felt more optimistic (39 percent) than less optimistic (17 percent). This statistic says a lot about how this period was a bit of a levelling of the playing field for people with disabilities, in music and most likely beyond. I spoke to people who told me they could suddenly attend every meeting, that travel and access barriers were no longer an issue, and that performing online meant they were more relaxed in their own environments and able to communicate better with their audience. That statistic, taken in a time of such fear for our industry, is one that I think highlights the importance of creating the right environments to help people with disabilities thrive. We need to encourage promoters, agents and venues to listen to artists and musicians with disabilities and to make sure people feel confident in asking for the reasonable adjustments they may need, so everyone is able to work to their full potential in live music.


of artists who responded have experienced access barriers at music venues


of respondents experienced issues with access to stage


of respondents have arrived for a show and not been able to fulfil their commitment due to an access barrier


have rejected a booking knowing that a specific venue is not accessible to them


would ask again if an access requirement submitted in advance was not fulfilled upon arrival


of those who said they did not always disclose, admitted that decision had put their health and safety at risk in the past

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BBC Radio: A British Institution

To mark 100 years of the BBC in 2022, Eamonn Forde explores the pivotal role the broadcaster has played in promoting and supporting new music throughout the last century.

The BBC’s ability to shape and support music of all stripes over the past century has been incalculable. It’s not immune from criticism or from being held to account — and nor should it be — but trying to comprehend what music in 2022 would look like without the colossal role played by the BBC is unimaginable. There’s no clearer example of the BBC’s accuracy and influence than Sounds Of. Now in its 20th year, the globally recognised annual tips list has predicted success for the likes of Adele, Stormzy, Haim and George Ezra. From the start of the BBC to today — all the way through this past century — are important milestones for radio, for culture and for British identity in which music’s role has been absolutely central. With the BBC’s 100-year anniversary round the corner, it is a history worth detailing. It was — for music anyway — a slow start, and the broadcaster was not as quick as it is today to reflect current tastes. The BBC’s first daily radio broadcast — on 14 November 1922, from Marconi House on The Strand in central London — was light on music and more focused on the stentorious delivery of important information. Arthur Burrows, the director of programmes, read the news and weather — repeating the news a second time in a slower voice to allow listeners to take notes should they wish. At the time, only 30,000 people in the UK held a radio licence. This grew to 2 million by 1926 as the radio revolution took grip. Music soon became the key driver of entertainment for the broadcaster. By March 1928, the BBC Dance Orchestra had performed its first official broadcast, led by Jack Payne whose signature song was the appositely titled Say It With Music. The following year, the BBC Handbook would call dance music on the radio ‘the voice of something very

‘The BBC might have launched three new music stations on the same day in 1967, but its staggered launch in 2002 of three entirely new stations has been just as profound and important.’

typical of ourselves and of this post-war age.’ Suddenly music was truly nationally available in a way it had never been before, acting as the bonding agent in shared cultural experiences — a dynamic that was to both accelerate and endure. The BBC’s early emphasis was very much on the live performance of music over the airwaves, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra going beyond the populist dance styles of the day to bring a more revered classical output to the BBC’s musical arsenal. The BBC shut down its TV output just before the outbreak of WWII and did not return until June 1946. Radio, however, did much of the heavy lifting in that period, with music being a key feature in the mix. It was during this era that a groundbreaking new programme titled Desert Island Discs debuted from a bomb-damaged Maida Vale Studios. Now a great British institution, an invite to be stranded on an island with eight records, a book, a luxury item, the works of Shakespeare and a Bible is widely regarded as a career defining moment. In a way not dissimilar to the first lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic — the BBC used news to keep the country informed during the war and it used music to salve the nation. This was the start of a long process of expansion and diversification of the BBC’s musical output. The Light Programme began in July 1945 and The Third Programme came just over a year later, in September 1946, offering a high brow mix of classical music alongside drama and literature. This was something the BBC was to refine over the years in its music policy — striking a populist chord but also catering for those tastes outside of the mainstream, where music was being both broadcast and narrowcast. The Dance Orchestra was rebranded as the BBC Showband in the 1950s and the corporation launched the Northern Variety Orchestra in 1951 which became the Northern Dance Orchestra in 1956 as it looked to cater to broader tastes while being less London-centric. The cultural changes driven through the 1960s were certainly one of the most powerful examples of the BBC taking too long to catch up with the prevailing mood, particularly amongst its younger audience.

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‘Its current focus is not just on what we hear but also how we hear it.’ This reached a tipping point with the arrival, from 1964 onwards, of the pirate stations — symbolised most by Radio Caroline, Radio Atlanta and Radio London — playing the pop music of the day that the BBC was conspicuously ignoring. Their cultural impact was such that the government drew up its White Paper on Broadcasting Policy in December 1966. This led directly to not just an Act of Parliament making working for a pirate station illegal but also the formulation of the BBC’s own response — Radio 1. It launched on 30 September 1967, symbolically recruiting many of the leading pirate broadcasters like Tony Blackburn and Kenny Everett as a means of drawing in young listeners with an emphasis on the credible. Radio 2 launched concurrently with Radio 1, replacing the old Light Programme and aimed at a more mature audience than the one Radio 1 was courting. In a broadcasting triptych, Radio 3 (replacing the Third Programme and focused more on classical, opera and jazz) arrived the same day, showing the BBC’s need to address multiple audiences and generations with different musical output. This was the moment that the BBC became absolutely central to the musical culture in the UK — amplifying established artists like never before, providing the springboard for countless new artists and introducing the nation to whole new styles and genres. It also gave artists a national base from which they could develop internationally, hothousing talent for the global market. Radio 1 proved the jewel in the BBC’s crown, drawing in phenomenal numbers of listeners from the 1960s onwards. It held its dominance until 2001 when it was overtaken by Radio 2 as the most popular radio station in the UK. While diversification defined the BBC’s general approach to launching new stations, it was also something built into the very DNA of Radio 1 in a way that was significantly more pronounced than it was for other stations in the BBC’s roster. The John Peel sessions and live performances ran from the inception of Radio 1 until Peel’s death in 2004 and gave a phenomenal number of important musicians a first foot up in the industry (like David Bowie, The Smiths and Joy Division) and he also played a staggeringly diverse range of acts throughout his decades on the station. Equally important in supporting and breaking new acts from the alternative scene and the underground over the years at Radio 1 were Annie Nightingale, David Jensen,

Mark Goodier, Mark Radcliffe, Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley, Mary Ann Hobbs, Huw Stephens and Annie Mac. On top of this were groundbreaking specialist genrefocused shows like: Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show (between 1978 and 1993) focusing on hard rock and metal; Pete Tong’s Essential Selection for dance music from 1991; Tim Westwood’s Radio 1 Rap Show from 1994; and Mary Anne Hobbs’ The Breezeblock from 1997 with its focus on electronic music. That commitment to new music in general and new British music in particular continues to define Radio 1’s modus operandi, illustrated best with the launch of BBC Music Introducing in 2007 to give a platform to unsigned and emerging acts as well as the Live Lounge’s evolution into a talent incubator. Echoing BBC radio’s reinvention and expansion into a multi-channel operator in 1967, the arrival of DAB allowed the broadcaster to create entire new stations dedicated to genres and audiences that were previously only served by specialist shows on Radio 1 and Radio 2. While 2022 marks 100 years of BBC radio, it is also the 20th anniversary of a major step change for the corporation. 6 Music launched in February 2002, focusing on alternative music and also mining the best of the BBC’s legendary sessions. It was the broadcaster’s first new national station in 32 years. Mere months later, in August 2002, 1Xtra was launched to initially spotlight hip-hop, R&B, UK garage and ragga. In October that year, the BBC Asian Network arrived with its mix of speech and music. The BBC might have launched three new music stations on the same day in 1967, but its staggered launch in 2002 of three entirely new stations has been just as profound and important. Responding to audience demands for more diversity in its output has been the story of the BBC from its inception. Despite having at times teetered on the edge of losing touch with its audience, the changes the BBC has brought about to the sheer range of music we hear has been remarkable. Its current focus is not just on what we hear but also how we hear it. BBC radio’s output has, at times, been far from perfect and it has arguably been late to pick up on key genres, but when it does get behind something, it does so with a deep and lasting commitment. British music has been woven through the BBC over the last 100 years but equally the BBC has been woven through British music. This is symbiosis in excelsis.

Stormzy, performing at Glastonbury 2019

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Estée Blu

The Show Must Be Paused: What happened next?

To mark the one-year anniversary of The Show Must Be Paused— a social media blackout deployed in response to the murder of George Floyd — Estée Blu reflects on the last twelve months, and explores what progress — if any — has been made by the music industry.

On Tuesday 2 June 2020, the music industry came to a standstill in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other Black citizens brutalised by the police.  #TheShowMustBePaused initiative was spearheaded by two African-American women and music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang with the intention of making the music industry stop and reflect. Thomas and Agyemang explained in a statement on the website: ‘The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold accountable the industry at large, including major corporations and their partners, who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people. It is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.’ Alongside the posting of black squares on Instagram, a wide cross-section of the international music industry — from the major labels and musicians, to companies within the independent sector — all observed this blackout, making various statements and pledges.  Britain and Race  Unlike our American counterparts, Britain is a nation that still struggles to talk openly about race; more explicitly, its relationship with the Black African and Caribbean diaspora. With its failure to critically engage with its own history, primarily within mainstream education, politics and the media, the strong global movement around the social media blackout saw industries like music implode. It was forcibly asked, probably for the first time, to both acknowledge and to also be accountable. Collective progress in practice  Reflecting on some of the improvements made since June 2020 by no means absolves those in positions of power of their historical and systemic failure to give equal opportunities, credit and fair remuneration to Black British artists and music

professionals. Particularly when it comes those who are even further marginalised within the Black community — darkskinned Black women, the Black LGBTQ+ community, Black working-class people, Black disabled and neuro-diverse people, those working outside of rap, grime and R&B as well as those whose lived experiences meet all those intersections. But it’s important to highlight that this movement has opened up conversations about the mistreatment, discriminatory practices and subsequent racial trauma that were previously never given this kind of platform. Black people finally had a chance to discuss how we really felt, demand change, talk about our mental health, grieve, hold each other and — importantly — begin to heal. In an Instagram post written in the early hours on 5 June 2020, I wrote: ‘If you care about Black lives, then don’t forget to care about Black Women too,’ and it’s true that I’m still left wondering about equal access to opportunity for dark-skinned Black British women. I wanted to open the conversation up to some incredibly talented, independently operating Black women to get their thoughts on progress a year on, but also their biggest hopes for the future, where the music industry is concerned. I spoke to Emmavie - DJ Jazzy Jeff and Soulection collaborator, north-west London singer-songwriter, producer and DJ; and Tailor Jae - east London bass DJ and MixMag certified technical whizz. What progress, if any, has been made over the last year (collectively and/or personally for your career)? Emmavie: After 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement, following George Floyd’s murder that sparked worldwide protest, there was a global shift in consciousness that shook a lot of people up. The music industry took a huge battering with a number of Black artists calling out the racism they’d experienced. I think it made a lot of white and non-Black people 1. worried about their contribution to being part of the problem and 2. concerned with covering their tracks, making sure that they didn’t appear

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Tailor Jae

‘Black people finally had a chance to discuss how we really felt, demand change, talk about our mental health, grieve, hold each other and — importantly — begin to heal.’ racist or alleviating themselves of guilt — having been completely passive to some very obvious and century old issues. What a lot of people don’t understand is that being racist is not just in cases of overt violence, abuse and discrimination towards Black people, but it’s within the covert stuff like not giving Black people access to certain resources and opportunities, and in music, we see this with Black culture and artists being exploited and the lack of Black people in senior management. If there has been any progress, I feel like it’s happened out of guilt. It shouldn’t have taken the death of several Black people for anyone to start realising that they needed to be anti-racist. If you’re in solidarity with anyone, it means you get up and stand beside them, you stand in between them and danger, you stand up for them in the room and you talk up when you see issues. It’s shocked me the amount of people I’ve seen who’ve put Black Lives Matter in their bios now but previously would never have centred a campaign around a Black woman. Awareness is a huge part of progress and a lot of people have simply been forced to stop ignoring racism and address their deeply ingrained biases. I worry about how long that window is open for Black artists considering so much activism is performative.  Personally, I’ve seen opportunities arise for me and worried that it’s because I tick a lot of boxes. I am a Black, queer and masculine presenting woman that can produce, sing and write. I’ve feared that I’ve been a token hire and also booked to do the job of three people. I hate that because it’s lazy, but I am the person that fits the bill because I’ve worked so freakin’ hard. I also doubt very much that I’m paid the same as other women in some instances. Tailor Jae: Being a DJ, I would say there has been an effort to highlight more Black people in general by certain publications that for some reason chose not to highlight our efforts before.

You could say that there’s been progress with that. How much of it is political? I don’t know, but at the end of the day things are being done. I think most of us feel a certain level of tokenism at play, box ticking to avoid backlash, it’s a double edge situation because it’s great getting the opportunities but how much of it is because we’re genuinely rated? I have an agent now and that was through word of mouth, and I’m getting a lot of work but I don’t know whether that’s due to the industry looking for change or being found by the right person at the right time. I’m happy that Black women are making their way to be able to be at the forefront of electronic music. But I also think that there needs to be more of an effort to open more doors for Black people and not just rotate the same few that have been rotated for years and say that’s progress. There is still work to be done and it has to be genuine. But some progress is better than none. What does your ideal music industry look like? Emmavie: An ideal music industry is one that’s fair. One that looks at everyone as a human being and as an individual, not a product or commodity. I believe, in the beginning, everyone who enters into the music industry is full of ambition to change it, but once they get in there, they’re stifled by 60-year-old protocol and company guidelines that aren’t human. Music professionals lose that spark because their industry — built around capitalism and exploitation — affects human relationships and fails to safeguard people in terms of contractual agreements and opportunities for more leftfield artists.  I think the pandemic has caused a lot of people to challenge working practices and pay across all industries. I’m happy to see that, everywhere in the world, people are saying their jobs need to make more sense, contracts should be more humane and pay should be better. You shouldn’t have to sign your life

‘We’re entering an era where we’re no longer going to sit down whilst millionaires continue to exploit artists, especially having all experienced massive loss. I think that the industry is going to be forced to become more human because of this.’

Emmavie away and workers are saying no to the first greedy contract they’re offered. The music industry had us convinced that it was standard practice to be in debt to a company that own your masters forever, get rid of you and say, ‘Good luck!’. We’re entering an era where we’re no longer going to sit down whilst millionaires continue to exploit artists, especially having all experienced massive loss. I think that the industry is going to be forced to become more human because of this. Tailor Jae: I think that everyone should be valued for what they bring to the table regardless of who they are and what they look like. In an ideal world people wouldn’t be so sheepish and the industry and certain publications wouldn’t be able to dictate so much of what’s valuable or good, they have way too much power at the moment which can make or break a career. But sadly, we live in a generation where the media controls the thought process of music fans. A lot of people wait to be told something is cool or good rather than seeing that person for who they are. Again — in an ideal world — artists would give out their art freely, not thinking about judgement or press, just letting people enjoy it. People would also be honest and support musicians and DJs not because of their follower count on social media, but because they are good at their craft. How can we collectively meet that vision for you? Emmavie: I immediately think of ownership and education. It’s important for me not to be tied down to contracts for any long period of time. They’re often not designed in a way that looks good even a year after you’ve signed it. Artists need to understand what they’re signing and companies need to offer more freedom of movement so that we’re able to take our intellectual property elsewhere without a traumatic legal battle. There needs to be way more transparency throughout every process in this business. It just simply shouldn’t be a danger to sign to any contract or agreement. These deals already do not favour artists so imagine what this means for Black artists

that are too often unfairly compensated and have their work undervalued. The music industry needs to be less racist. That’s the bottom line. A lot of what music and popular culture is built on right now derives from Black culture, and I don’t think many people want to acknowledge that because then we could start asking the question, ‘What qualifies non-Black executives to dictate the value of Black art and decide who and what is worthy of mainstream success?’ It looks a little too much like exploitation and appropriation when none of those executives are Black. We need white people to be honest about their role in commodifying Black culture.’ Tailor Jae: I would say that if you genuinely like something that someone’s done, share it and don’t worry about whether or not it’s a trend. As an industry, people need to do a bit more research about what’s going on and new artists. Maybe actually going down to open mic nights and actually physically looking at the art, rather than relying on online personas. I also think it needs to be less of who you know, regarding publications. In terms of fans, share the music online, videos, artwork, if you can come and support your favourite DJs. Again, I’m happy to see the progress, but moving forwards, once we artists and DJs start getting platforms, we can also open the door for other people. As the famed novelist and poet James Baldwin once put it: ‘You always told me. ‘It takes time.’ It’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brothers’ and my sisters’ time. How much time do you want for your progress? Last year signified the start of something revolutionary. But true progress looks like seeing myself and other Black people across all intersections reflected, respected, and having ownership in a music landscape our cultures have built. As it pertains to Black women, who still aren’t afforded the same commercial opportunities as our male, mixed-race and white counterparts, it’s clear that the industry still has some way to go.

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