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MVT suggests Premier League-style ticket levy for stadium gigs as England progress in Euro 2024

July 8th, 2024

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has praised the Premier League’s ticket levy to support rising talent, and suggested that a similar approach should be used in the UK music scene.

The MVT took to their X/Twitter account over the weekend (July 6), shortly before the England team beat Switzerland at the UEFA Euros and secured their place in the semi-finals. Ahead of the game, the organisation highlighted how the sport has a system in place to help nurture and provide a platform for emerging talent, and emphasised how a similar approach should be taken in other fields.

“A small levy on stadium tickets to ensure that the UK keeps creating national heroes? It works for football, so why not music?” read a caption on a black and white photograph of the England team celebrating a recent victory.

It also shared a series of updates on X, explaining how the levy has proved a success in the world of sport, and should be implemented in the same way to help support new musicians. “As the England team head towards the Euro Quarter-Final, we’re reminded that top-tier football teams in the UK invest a small levy from stadium tickets back into supporting the smaller clubs that feed the talent pipeline,” it read.

“They nurture young talent at a grassroots level, and support finding it in every corner and community, so that every kid – from every walk of life – has a chance to walk out onto the biggest stage and do what they do best.

“The simple question is: Why can’t we have the same for music that they have for football?” it added. “A £1 levy on stadium and arena tickets for concerts would generate millions of pounds of vital income to ensure that the UK keeps creating national heroes.”

The update comes just days after the news that Lisa Nandy had been made as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The appointment followed the Labour Party sweeping hundreds of seats across the country and ending 14 years of Conservative rule at the 2024 General Election.

MVT’s push for the levy comes after a report was shared earlier this year, showing the state of the sector for 2023 and revealing a “disaster” facing live music, with venues closing at a rate of around two per week.

Reacting to the news, MVT’s Mark Davyd said in a statement: “Lisa arrives into the role at a critical time for live music in our communities, with the opportunity to deliver real, positive, long lasting change that can protect, secure and improve the nation’s grassroots music venues.”

“We look forward to meeting with her as soon as possible so we can begin the work of getting British music back to its rightful position as the beating heart of our towns and cities.”

His comments echoed that of the FAC, who also welcomed the new Labour government with “a resounding mandate for change”, and shared their hopes that the party can “quickly deliver the much-anticipated reforms to music streaming alongside greater support for the live music ecosystem”.

Nandy has previously voiced support for struggling nightclubs and live music venues.

“Every single town has lost a nightclub they feel very strongly about, that was part of our history and our heritage, in Wigan we had northern soul and we miss all of that greatly,” she told told Times Radio in 2022.

“Live music venues that used to sustain bands like The Verve, who come from Wigan, who could gig and play around Wigan, now just have to travel into Manchester to do it, those things have disappeared in the last couple of decades.”

Since her appointment, Davyd has also expressed his hopes that she will reach out and help discuss a plan to save local music spaces.

Presented at Westminster, the MVT shared their calls for the levy on tickets on gigs at arena size and above and for major labels and such to pay back into the grassroots scene, arguing that “the big companies are now going to have to answer for this”.

Not only is the incentive used across the Premier League as a way of safeguarding the UK’s talent pipeline, but a similar system is used in France too, where 3.5 per cent of the gross value of tickets sold goes back to a grassroots fund which artists, promoters and venues can apply for.

It also comes as the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee, shared a report in May, which highlighted the importance of grassroots venues, calling for immediate financial help through “a levy-funded support fund and a targeted temporary VAT cut to help stem the tide of closures”, as well as calling for “a comprehensive fan-led review of live and electronic music” to “examine the long-term challenges to the wider live music ecosystem”.

The report said that the industry must also ensure that the levy cost is not passed on to music fans – with Enter Shikari proving that this can be done with their own system last year –  and that “if there is no agreement by September or if it fails to collect enough income to support the sector, the Government should step in an introduce a statutory levy”.

Since then, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has gone on to openly show his support for the £1 arena ticket levy to save grassroots venues, as well as backing the idea of a targeted VAT cut to help struggling venues. The comments, shared at the start of June, made him the first politician to openly comment on the DCMS report.

“Music Venue Trust has been instrumental in supporting UK grassroots venues. I’ve seen many of my favourite bands in some of these spaces, and they play a key role in the nighttime economy and music scene of Greater Manchester and the wider UK,” he said in a Music Venue Trust press release.

“I fully support the recommendations published by the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee including the introduction of a levy and a targeted VAT cut to halt the rising tide of closures. However, it’s clear that urgent action is needed to support venues and the talented artists playing them.”

Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari performs on March 21, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Kieran Frost/Redferns/Getty)

The loss of grassroots music venues comes despite record-breaking billions being spent on ticket sales in the UK, with summer 2023 seeing a bumper calendar for stadium and outdoor gigs. These include 1million people attending live music events in London just in one week alone back in July, thanks to huge outdoor shows from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Blur, The 1975, Billy Joel and Lana Del Rey.

“The reality of £1 per ticket for us, given the nature of many of our venues being managed by private landlords, city councils and charitable organisations, [is that] the impact would be something like a up to 20 per cent cut [in profits for the year].

“It’s not a few grains of sand – it’s significant. Our angle is more that this is a problem for the ecosystem, the industry as a whole, and that it goes right through at a live level to artists, managers, agents, crew, promoters, venues, and anyone associated with that system. We’re all very interdependent. It’s not for the venues or the promoters to pay; it’s an industry solution that we need to find.”

His comments echoed those shared by Featured Artists Coalition’s CEO David Martin, who spoke to NME in February about the issue facing both new artists and grassroots music venues.

“How does any artist these days make live touring commercially viable? Especially those beneath the top of the pyramid. For while the wider world endures a cost of living crisis, many artists are also facing a cost of touring crisis,” he said.

“Even those playing to relatively modest audiences have to bear substantial costs to tour the UK – from transportation, accommodation and rehearsals to paying the salaries of musicians, crew, production, agents and managers. That’s on top of recording, and the increasing demands of promotion – all activities which create the demand for shows in the first place.

Lily Fontaine of English Teacher performs on stage at Electric Brixton on May 29, 2024 in London, England.
Lily Fontaine of English Teacher performs on stage at Electric Brixton on May 29, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty)

“These too are also shouldered by artists. Against some harsh economic headwinds, it’s no wonder some are starting to buckle.”

Various artists also shared their support for the proposed ticket levy too, including Lily Fontaine of English Teacher – who recently released their acclaimed top 10 album ‘This Could Be Texas’.

“Struggling to make ends meet as an artist isn’t a new concept – but that doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m looking forward to seeing how, when implemented, the ticket levy will be delivered to the grassroots venues and scenes,” she explained. “There’s little to be proud of coming from this island sometimes, so it’s a relief we’re at least trying to save potentially our best and coolest cultural export.”

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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