Camden Lib Dems pass London motion "A Fair Deal for Musicians"

26 Feb 2024
Charlie clinton, holborn and st pancras parliamentary candidate, outside the Waterats venue

Camden Lib Dems are calling on all politicians to work together with the music industry to save the future of music in the UK – including by implementing a levy on the largest venues to fund grassroots music.

In February, Camden Lib Dems, represented by Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Holborn & St Pancras Charlie Clinton, submitted & passed the motion “A Fair Deal for Musicians”, at the London regional conference, consolidating multiple key industry challenges & practical solutions into one ambitious plan of action.   Lib Dem Councillors in Camden are also taking action locally through their proposed budget amendment. 

The music industry is worth £6.7Bn to the UK economy, but the foundations are crumbling: impacted by rising inequality, the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit, changing working patterns & the rise of AI.  When combined they create an existential threat to the future of homegrown music in this country.  

Access to music education is both unequal and in decline, with just 15% of state schools offering sustained music tuition, rising to 50% for independent schools. Over the last decade GCSE participation has fallen by 25%, A-Levels by 50%.  Arts hub funding has been cut by 17% in real terms since 2011. 

Since Covid changed working patterns, musicians are particularly vulnerable to complaints when practicing at home, and councils do not always enforce existing legal precedent when dealing with them, creating yet another type of postcode lottery.  Musician Fiona Fey was effectively forced out of her home by Lewisham council, and her petition calling for the law to be clarified has had over 100,000 signatures.  

30% of musicians lost income due to Brexit-with the lowest earners hit hardest, losing an average of 49% of their EU revenue.

125 grassroots music venues (GMVs) were identified as having shut down or stopped offering live music last year. 27 (13%) of GMVS in London closed.  This is happening while the largest venues are making millions from high profile concerts. 

Looking to the future, the rise of Generative AI creates new opportunities and new risks for musicians.  The technology can be used to lower barriers to entry and unleash an explosion of AI-powered creativity, or it could be used to undermine musicians’ ability to monetise their original works and unique sound.

Many parts of the industry are crying out for help and the Liberal Democrats are listening.  Specifically, London Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • A levy on large (5500+) venue ticket sales to fund grassroots music venues. 
  • The restoration of funding for music education.
  • Protecting Musicians’ right to practice at home.
  • Protecting existing Live Music Venues from unreasonable complaints by fully implementing the “Agent of Change” principle.
  • Removing barriers to musicians touring the EU, and vice versa. 
  • Pragmatic regulation of AI to ensure transparency in AI generated music and to protect the intellectual property rights of musicians. 

The full text of the motion can be found here:  https://www.camdenlibdems.org.uk/save-the-future-of-music/a-fair-deal-for-musicians 

The Camden Lib Dems have also launched an online petition to save the future of music which can be found here: https://www.camdenlibdems.org.uk/save-the-future-of-music 

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Holborn & St Pancras Charlie Clinton said:

“As a part-time musician myself I’ve seen the challenges first hand. Working musicians are vital to our night-time economy – but this is an industry which is being taken for granted and is built on massive inequality.  Education is underfunded, and the majority of musicians are underpaid.  Grassroots music venues are operating on knife edge margins as they subsidise their acts by running live music nights at a loss.  And there is ever more to do: even since we drafted the motion, multiple Councils have announced cuts to arts funding which must be reversed. 

We are in favour of a successful, profitable music industry at all levels, but our proposed plan seeks to apply basic principles of fairness in the operation of the industry – and we will continue to evolve our plan in collaboration with musicians and venues.

If we don’t act today to slow the slide into musical oblivion – where will we be in 20 years?  It is in the interests of the government, local councils & those at the top of the music industry to work in harmony to save the future of music"

As part of the campaign, Lib Dem Councillors submitted a local budget amendment calling for a pilot scheme offering free musical instruments and tuition for school children: doing what can be done locally to improve access to music education and opportunity.

Cllr Tom Simon  - Lib Dem Group leader, Camden Council said: 

“Our budget amendment takes the opportunity to celebrate one of Camden’s strengths – the creative industries that give both joy and good jobs in our area.  We want to build on Camden Council’s reputation for supporting music in schools by introducing the “Every child a musician programme” pioneered by Newham Council, so that, eventually, every Camden child can learn to play a musical instrument, no matter what their family’s income.”

Charlie clinton, holborn and st pancras parliamentary candidate, outside the Waterats venue
Charlie Clinton, part time musician and Holborn and St Pancras parliamentary candidate, outside the Water Rats venue