opinion

Ticketpass' Russ Cook on why ethical ticketing's time has come

From today (July 19) music venues are allowed to reopen without Covid restrictions after more than a year of enforced closures during Covid-19. But how might the global pandemic lead to a reset for the live sector? Here, Ticketpass.org’s content ...

Viewpoint: Sound City MD Becky Ayres on why the industry must de-risk careers in music

  In this special viewpoint, Sound City MD Becky Ayres argues why the industry must do more to ensure that careers in music are accessible to people from all backgrounds, and looks at why the answer may start at a local level...  When we talk about creating equal opportunities, furthering diversity and bringing new voices to the table in the music business, progressive companies tend to focus on creating pathways for their existing executive talent. The hope is that people from a range of backgrounds, with varied experiences, rise through the company, enriching it during the course of their careers.  Such efforts are, of course, highly commendable and long overdue. But the seeds of diversity need to be planted earlier than that. Perhaps an even greater challenge is equipping today’s young people to work in music before they even arrive at our doors. We need to make our business accessible enough so that work ethic is the only barrier to entry. At the moment, that’s not the case. Imbalances in gender and ethnic diversity rightly earn headlines on a regular basis, but we are also missing out on potential talent due to inequalities around social class. According to Youth Music’s A Blueprint For The Future report (August 2020), those from lower income backgrounds are significantly less likely to be earning money through music than those from higher income backgrounds.It stated: “This disparity holds even if they had both studied music at school, college or university. Comparisons between earners from lower and higher income backgrounds also revealed gaps between those who had completed both paid and unpaid work placements." Pursuing a career in music – in any of the arts, in fact – requires an early element of risk. Youth Music’s report also states: “Only a small percentage of people entering the music industries are able to earn sufficiently. 64% of musicians and 70% of industry professionals stated the top reason it is hard for them to pursue a career in the music industry is ‘insufficient earnings’. Respondents were very aware of the challenges in pursuing a music career and were not expecting overnight success or vast riches.”   If we don’t de-risk music careers with early training and well-paid entry points, we will lose talented people to careers perceived as safer bets Becky Ayres – MD, Sound City It's obvious that those from more affluent backgrounds, with financial safety nets perhaps provided by parents, are at an advantage as they are more able to take unpaid internships and low salary entry roles while they develop their skills or learn on the job. Those with a degree of financial backing are better equipped to physically pursue opportunities as well. With the UK’s music business still incredibly London-centric, aspiring music executives that are based any great distance outside of the M25 may need to make a bigger investment (and take a bigger risk) to either travel or relocate to take opportunities. What can music companies do to minimise these inequalities? Moving away from unpaid internships is one thing, but we can also create opportunities in more towns and cities around the UK and in less affluent communities.  Backed by CAPLL Ltd and led by industry mentors, Sound City’s Launch training is an industry recognised programme that gives aspiring young music artists and executives in the Liverpool City and Manchester City regions the tools they need to enter the music business, hit the ground running and succeed. It’s unapologetically local - designed to capitalise on the region’s strengths for strategic economic development, and boost the breadth and depth of business talent we have here. There are plenty of young people with potential in Liverpool, and Manchester and we believe they shouldn’t have to leave their city regions in order to fulfil it. Particularly in the midst of a pandemic, making our industry more accessible and taking opportunities to more communities across the country is more important than ever. Under 25s have been hardest hit by unemployment caused by the crisis, as they are more likely to work in hospitality, leisure and the gig economy. This intensifies for young people from low-income backgrounds. Many young people are likely to be more risk averse as a result. If we don’t de-risk music careers with early training and well-paid entry points, we will lose talented people to careers perceived as safer bets. Youth education and training shouldn’t just be thought of in terms of The BRIT School, BIMM or LIPA. The good news is that music companies themselves are well placed to go into their communities and nurture the young artists and executives they would like to work with in future.

Mulika Sannie on how the BRIT Trust is supporting diversity in music

It’s a new era at the BRIT Trust, which has recently appointed Tony Wadsworth as chair. During the charity’s first three decades, it has donated more than £27 million to a range of causes that promote education and wellbeing through music. While it has faced fundraising challenges during the pandemic, the BRIT Trust continues to support good causes. The BRIT Trust is also working to improve diversity in music with the appointment of Mulika Sannie last year as a trustee. She has already introduced the BRIT Trust Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which she chairs. Here, Mulika Sannie (who joined the Women In Music Roll Of Honour last year) shares her BRITs memories and opens up about the charity’s work to ensure that music and the creative arts are accessible to all irrespective of background… My earliest memory of the BRIT Awards was when I was in still in secondary school in 1996 – the infamous performance by Jarvis Cocker and his unauthorised on-stage “collaboration” with the late Michael Jackson. I remember at the time thinking, “My God, the music industry is crazy but it looks like a lot of fun!” As a young teenager, I honestly didn’t envisage myself working in the music industry as an adult (I was still fantasising over wearing power suits like Amanda Donohoe did in LA Law in the courtroom – those of us old enough will know the style!). It wasn’t until my final year of secondary school that I had heard of The BRIT School. Although music is my passion, as I couldn’t play an instrument or sing I was deeply disappointed that I had to go to a “normal” college to do my A-Levels and not the cool and hip BRIT School, where a few of my friends went (to say I was jealous of their musical talents was an understatement). It had not occurred to me back then that the BRIT Awards and the BRIT School were connected. The Trust is dedicated to ensuring that music and the creative arts is accessible to all irrespective of background Mulika Sannie Fast Forward 20-plus years and I am very proud and honoured to be a trustee of the BRIT Trust. Since becoming a trustee in summer 2020, I have seen directly how pivotal the BRIT Trust is in not only supporting the education of young people in the creative arts arena (The BRIT School), but also in supporting the use of music to enhance and improve the lives of those who are experiencing physical or mental challenges (Nordoff Robbins). Through funding, which is largely derived from The BRIT Awards and the annual Music Industry Trust Awards (MITS), the BRIT Trust is able to support thousands of people every year from diverse backgrounds (irrespective of race, gender, age, disability or any other protected characteristic), not only through the BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins, but through many other charities also. Never has the power of music to enrich lives, bring people together from different backgrounds and bring joy to people’s days been more important than recently where many of us are facing personal as well as professional challenges in these life-changing, unprecedented times. The Trust is dedicated to ensuring that music and the creative arts are accessible to all irrespective of background. It is for this reason why myself and other members of the Trust have created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee to ensure that the Trust, through its work and funding, is doing all it can to reach those who have historically gone unheard. Whilst over the past 30 years the Trust has done a phenomenal job, our work as a charity is not done. All of the trustees continue to strive to do better, be better and be responsive to the ever-changing needs of the music and creative industries. The Trust is here to serve such industries and we are excited about what the future has to hold and the talent and innovative ideas the new generation will bring. This will enable us to ensure that the next 30 years will be even bigger and better than the last 30 years (which is going to be hard). But I believe we can do it… and I couldn’t have joined the Trust at a better time. Click here to read our blog from BRIT Trust chair Tony Wadsworth.  

Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

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