New rulers: How a Labour government could support the music industry - plus key results and reaction

New rulers: How a Labour government could support the music industry - plus key results and reaction

The result of the 2024 general election was never really in doubt – a large majority for the Labour Party and new Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer.

The anticipation of a Labour governmment for the last year or two has allowed the music industry to focus its lobbying efforts and build relationships with an incoming administration.

Arsenal fan Sir Keir Starmer’s declarations of hospitality for the last Parliament show that his main interest outside of politics is football with more than 20 matches attended. When it comes to live music, the parliamentary register reveals that he accepted tickets from SJM to see Coldplay at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester last year, while Global gave him four tickets to the Jingle Bell Ball at the O2 in December 2023 (following a visit the previous year). For a campaign “pit stop”, he recently attended a show on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium.

New Chancellor Rachel Reeves spoke to the UK Music board back in 2017 when she was a rising star in Parliament, and she will be aware of the importance of issues such as Brexit, copyright and IP protection for the music industry amid the rise of AI.

While the new government may not be about to increase spending, there is potential support for the music sector in areas such as improving EU touring for artists and crew and music education to help develop the talent pipeline. 

Earlier this year, Sir Keir Starmer pledged to open up the arts to young people from a wider background. He also acknowledged that the UK is one of three net exporters of music, so there will be some expectation that the new government could give more backing to UK talent overseas. In recent years, there have been calls for a more ambitious music strategy like South Korea, in order to boost both revenue and even the UK’s soft power through culture. 

However, one blow to the music industry’s lobbying efforts today is Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire losing her seat in Bristol Central to Green co-leader Carla Denyer – a devastating result for Debbonaire as she watches her party being swept into office. A former professional cellist, Debbonaire has been in the culture role for Labour since last autumn, and she was the keynote speaker at a BPI event in April on education and the talent pipeline. (Updated 6pm: Lisa Nandy has been named as the new Culture Secretary – see below for further reaction.)

Dr Jo Twist, BPI chief executive, said: “Congratulations to the new Labour government – we look forward to working together to promote our world-leading music industry. In line with priorities set out during the campaign, we share ambitions to enable human creativity to flourish, underpinned by a strong intellectual property framework and commitments to support creative education. These statements align closely with the five priorities we set out earlier this year and it is only through constructive engagement with industry that the government will deliver on these pledges to the benefit of our collective creative industries."

Gee Davy, AIM’s interim CEO and chief policy officer, said: "Congratulations to the new Labour government on behalf of the UK’s globally celebrated independent music sector. We look forward to working alongside all newly elected MPs and the new cabinet, to achieve the goal of making the regions and nations of the UK the best places to grow and scale a music business and build sustainable careers in music. Key measures will include finally including music in the creative tax reliefs on par with those in film and gaming to encourage investment in our world-beating UK music scenes, opening up small business' opportunities in apprenticeships, and encouraging responsible development in AI which protects and nurtures UK music and musicians. 

“We encourage all MPs to consider the important place music has had in their lives and constituencies and look to them to support independent music businesses and creative professionals who are essential to the future of brilliant and diverse great British music.”

We look to MPs to support independent music businesses and creative professionals who are essential to the future of brilliant and diverse great British music

Gee Davy

Tom Kiehl, UK Music CEO, said: “The incoming Labour government has been elected on a platform to implement a plan for the creative sector as part of its industrial strategy. The potential of the UK music industry to contribute to growth must be at the heart of this plan. The music industry is facing a number of challenges, but also opportunities. A strong relationship between UK Music and the new government will be essential to navigating what the rest of this decade brings. 

“As a teenager who played the flute, piano, recorder and violin - as well as attending the Guildhall School of Music, Sir Keir is without doubt a music-loving PM. He has an immense passion for music. It is in his DNA. He fully understands the joys music can bring and, just as importantly, the huge challenges our sector faces. 
“We share his passion and the music industry is keen to continue working with him to ensure everyone can benefit from the important life skills that learning a music instrument with the help of brilliant teachers can bring - as Keir himself has acknowledged. We have lost 1,000 music teachers from our secondary schools since 2012. That poses a huge risk to the talent pipeline on which our sector relies and deprives thousands of young people of an enjoyable and rewarding career."

He added: “We will work with the members of the new government - which has promised to recruit 6,500 new teachers - and strive to reverse that damaging decline. As the collective voice of the music industry, UK Music already has strong links with Sir Keir’s top team. Our plan is to continue to build on those relationships and work across the political spectrum, including the many newly elected MPs, to deliver real change and further growth for our world-leading sector.” 

Following the confirmed appointments of Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Culture Secretary Lisa Nandy, AIM's Gee Davy said: "I am delighted to see Rachel Reeves confirmed as Britain's first female Chancellor, and Lisa Nandy as Culture Secretary. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to work with them both to include music in equivalent creative sector tax credit schemes, such as those in film and games, to drive investment. With Lisa Nandy's experience in levelling up and international development, we hope she will help drive success for diverse independent music communities in all regions and nations of the UK, and provide strong export support in maintaining British independent music's global standing."

Lisa Nandy’s appointment as the new Culture Secretary is fantastic news and provides further momentum behind the new government’s ambitious plans for music and culture

Tom Kiehl

UK Music's Tom Kiehl added: “Lisa Nandy’s appointment as the new Culture Secretary is fantastic news and provides further momentum behind the new government’s ambitious plans for music and culture. UK Music has worked with Lisa previously, including collaborating on a successful event on music talent development at the Old Courts in her Wigan constituency. Her commitment to music means she is ideally placed to help UK Music and its members tackle the opportunities and challenges that the music industry faces, and contribute to sustained growth for our sector.”

Roberto Neri, chief executive of The Ivors Academy, said: “A music lover leading the new government, with a party focused on economic growth, the creative industries and culture, creates new opportunities for songwriters and composers. We need the hovernment to truly value songwriting and composing, which have been chronically undervalued. This means prioritising the creative forces behind the music –songwriters and composers – over big corporations and tech giants.

"Our agenda is clear: strong intellectual property protections, effective regulation of AI, support for freelancer wellbeing, challenging exploitative industry practices, and nurturing future talent through music education and cultural investment. We're ready to collaborate with, and challenge, the new Government to make this a reality.”

Jon Collins, CEO of trade group LIVE, said: “Having worked closely with the party in opposition, LIVE looks forward to working with the incoming Labour government to deliver on its ambitions of making the creative industries central to national renewal, economic growth and boosting the UK’s reputation on the world stage. The live music sector generated over £6 billion in 2023, with one gig held every four minutes, but this growth has not been uniformly experienced across the sector. It is critical that the incoming Labour government delivers on the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee's recommendations for an urgent review of reintroducing a lower rate of VAT on live music tickets and finding other ways to support grassroots music.”

He added: “We also look forward to working closely with the Labour government on our shared manifesto proposals to enable UK artists to tour internationally more easily and clamp down on ticket touts, putting fans back at the heart of live music. 

“We hope Labour will work with our whole industry to boost opportunities, increase the talent pool and offer a wider range of live music experiences to music fans up and down the UK.”

David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition, said: "Congratulations to the new Labour government. Although we offer commiserations to our Artist in Residence, David Rowntree, and to Tom Gray, who were both standing for election, the FAC will now look forward to working with a new influx of MPs. It’s especially important that we can pick up on unfinished business from the previous Parliament, and quickly deliver the much-anticipated reforms to music streaming alongside greater support for the live music ecosystem. Music and culture should play a key role in the UK's future success, so it's vital that the foundations of our business are reset on a sound and artist-friendly footing."

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive, Music Managers Forum, said: "This should be a watershed moment for the music industry, and we look forward to helping the new Labour government deliver their manifesto commitments on international touring and online ticket touting, both areas on which the MMF has led through the #LetTheMusicMove and FanFair Alliance campaigns. For the sake of artists and fans, we all want to see quick progress on both these issues.  We also hope to see a renewed focus to progress the discussions on creator remuneration as part of the ongoing economics of streaming work at DCMS, and to ensure that creators' voices are centre stage in all discussions around AI."

Association of Independent Festivals' CEO John Rostron said: "We offer sincere congratulations to Sir Keir and to the Labour Party on their landslide win, and are pleased that there's now a strong government in place that can develop a programme for the next five years. Our call to Sir Keir and to the incoming Culture Secretary will be for urgent lowering of VAT on festival ticket sales to 5% to mitigate independent festival closures in the UK and sow seeds for growth in 2025. We hope, also, that this government will take forward the recommendations of the CMS inquiry into grassroots music venues.

"We want to note that we're sorry to see Thangam Debbonaire lose her seat - she has been excellent in the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Culture. It's also bittersweet to know that Tom Gray, who has been a brilliant advocate for progressive policies in music, lost out in his attempt to become an MP. We hope he returns to his excellent advocacy and representative work for the music sector.

"We hope all incoming MPs will now be able to relax for a short while and celebrate at this summer's array of independent festivals."

Ahead of the election, music organisations set out their own manifestos, including the Music Venue Trust and NTIA for the night-time economy.

UK Music, which recently confirmed Tom Kiehl as chief exec ahead of the incoming government, has 10 objectives for the next Parliament. So expect to see these forming part of the debate about the role of government in championing the sector:

– Encourage responsible artificial intelligence

– Safeguard copyright and intellectual property

– Boost music exports

– Supercharge sector growth

– Protect music spaces

– Improve music education

– Progress diversity and inclusion

– Enhance freelancer protections

– Support public service broadcasting

– Utilise music to benefit society

Last month recorded music trade body the BPI issued these five key points for the new government:

– Human creativity & the creative industries should be among any government’s policy priorities

– Enable a healthy climate for investment in human creativity

– Support creative education & better fund specialist creative education

– Keep British music globally competitive

– Industry-wide action on climate change


One policy the Labour government is expected to introduce will see ministers clamp down on ticket touts. Labour has pledged to cap resale prices and regulate platforms.

It follows years of campaigning by its own MPs such as Sharon Hodgson, who chairs the All-Party Group on Ticket Abuse. Under the proposals, platforms would be accountable for the provenance of tickets they list. 

Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance, said: "I'm personally delighted to see Sharon Hodgson get re-elected. As well as being a brilliant MP, Sharon chairs the APPG on Ticket Abuse, and has been instrumental in keeping the issue of ticket touting so high on the political agenda. The Labour Party manifesto reiterated their commitment to capping ticket resale prices, and everyone involved with FanFair Alliance will now support them in achieving that goal as quickly as possible."

However, the secondary ticketing sector will fight such regulation that could impact their business model. 

The US-based Coalition For Ticket Fairness hosted an event earlier this year for key players such as Viagogo and StubHub, with fundraising to hire lobbyists to target MPs. The Guardian reported that one of the UK’s biggest ticket touts said at the event that “we are fucked” if Labour’s clampdown went ahead.

Richard Davies, founder of Twickets, said: “Tickets are not an ‘asset’ as such, to be traded at will, but a licence to see a show. They are generally priced at a low level to open that event up to everyone, not just to those with the deepest pockets. And so exploiting those prices just for the opportunity to profiteer is in our view wrong, and means that genuine fans often miss out.”

If Labour enacts its policy, “it would mean fans have more money in their pockets to attend more events with better live entertainment experiences”, he added.


Finally, with results coming in overnight from constituencies, Music Week looks at some of the key MPs for music in the new Parliament, as well as those who lost their seats or missed out as first-time candidates…

Anneliese Midgley, Labour – Knowsley (WON)

Elected for the first time in the rock-solid Labour seat in Liverpool, Anneliese Midgley is a trade unionist whose X feed suggests she takes a close interest in music. She had a video endorsement from Keith Mullin from The Farm and was quick to pay tribute to retiring MP, musician and All Party Parliamentary Group on Music chair Kevin Brennan (“I’m gutted. I don’t know who I’m going to talk with for hours about Wings & Sandy Denny now.”)

Sharon Hodgson (Labour) – Washington & Gateshead South (WON)

Sharon Hodgson has been a prominent campaigner for fans against the excesses of the secondary ticketing market. Last year she slammed the government for not acting on the Competition & Markets Authority's recommendation for stronger laws to protect consumers. "...The government has effectively given bad actors a free pass to continue acquiring tickets in bulk to popular events and to engage in speculative and fraudulent selling," said Hodgson, who we can now expect to be a key voice in the campaign as Labour takes action against the touts.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, Conservative – Gosport (WON)

Dame Caroline Dinenage was chair of the Culture, Media & Sport Committee before the dissolution of Parliament. The committee has continued to drive the debate on music streaming remuneration, as well as the proposed levy to help grassroots venues. Under Boris Johnson’s premiership, she was a Culture Minister and provoked a negative reaction in the music sector with her pro-Brexit stance.

“If the UK is to continue to lead the way in the world of art, music and drama, we must not take the success of our many talented artists, performers and producers for granted,” she said before the dissolution of Parliament. “The committee’s efforts pushing for agreements on fairer pay and conditions and ensuring the opportunities and challenges posed by the rise of AI are met head on have been a constant thread throughout our work.”

Sir John Whittingdale, Conservative – Maldon (WON)

An Essex MP for more than 30 years, Whittingdale is probably the most music-friendly senior Tory (he’s a heavy metal fan and loves The Stranglers). A former Culture Secretary under David Cameron, he rejoined the government in the Culture Department in 2020. He’s been supportive of the Music Venue Trust’s Own Our Venues campaign and attended the BRIT Awards this year as a guest of the BPI.

Dave Rowntree, Mid Sussex (DEFEATED)

Blur drummer Dave Rowntree has stood for Parliament before, unsuccessfully, and served as a councillor in Norfolk. He was selected for Labour in Mid Sussex, previously a safe Conservative seat and once held by Lord Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson. It was not even in the top 150 target seats for Labour. In the event, it went Lib Dem.

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour – Bristol Central (DEFEATED)

On a night of stunning victories based on an efficiently distributed Labour vote share, Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire lost her seat in a classic two-way battle with the Greens. 

Tom Gray, Labour – Brighton Pavilion (DEFEATED)

One of the most prominent industry campaigners of recent years, Tom Gray was behind the #BrokenRecord campaign on streaming remuneration. A member of Gomez, he became chair of the Ivors Academy, a position which still enabled him to launch a political career as a candidate for Labour. Gray was aiming to unseat the Greens in their political heartland. Although he put five percentage points on to the Labour vote, he didn’t manage to take the seat on this occasion.


PHOTO: Carl Court/Getty Images


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