skip to main content

MU Responds to CMS Report on Grassroots Music Venues

We welcome the recommendations made to Government in the report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMS), and are hopeful that we can use this opportunity to start to repair the grassroots live scene for all involved.

Photo ofKelly Wood
By Kelly Wood Published: 14 May 2024 | 5:29 PM
Empty stage with drum kit, cast in green light in a small music venue.
We'll continue to use our presence on the LIVE Board to ensure our members are represented in the discussions around the levy and wider live issues. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Earlier this week the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee released its new report into grassroots music venues. It covered:

  • Grassroots music in crisis
  • A live music levy
  • VAT and business rate relief
  • Public funding
  • Stakeholder disputes

Read the full report.

We're pleased to see some much needed recommendations 

Touring in the UK currently represents a huge financial risk for artists playing at grassroots music venues, and without dedicated support this is a real threat to musicians' livelihoods and the future talent pipeline.

We're therefore pleased to see the current challenges acknowledged in the report, alongside some much needed recommendations to help protect the sector.

It's reassuring to see reference made to merchandise commissions and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC)'s 100% Venues campaign. Merch income can make or break a tour for our members, with added pressure when applied to support artists whose fees can be negligible.

Existing funding options for our members undertaking gigs and tours are both limited and hard to access.

Whilst bodies like Arts Council England allow artists to create live activities with potentially higher rates of pay than are otherwise available, e.g., using MU live rates for grassroots gigs, many of our members struggle with the process and administration involved and therefore feel excluded from these opportunities. We are supportive of a review of these application processes.

Royalties are an integral part of musical earnings

The recommendations state that PRS for Music has a responsibility to the songwriters, composers and music publishers it represents, and that it is a vital part of the music ecosystem. It adds that songwriter rights and royalties should be protected, but tariffs should be fair and terms reasonable for licensees.

The MU agrees that the royalties artists receive from PRS for Music in relation to their live activities are an integral part of their musical earnings, and that it is important the process is transparent, accurate and that the level of royalties is fair for the creators.

We will be consulting our members as part of the PRS tariff review (due to commence in summer 2024 and outlined in the recommendations), and will ensure that both creators and performers are represented.

Ensuring our members are represented

The report also recommends that the live music industry introduce a voluntary levy on arena and stadium tickets no later than September 2024 to support grassroots music venues, artists and promoters.

We believe that a ticket levy can play an important part in helping to repair the grassroots scene, and that it can be used to improve artists' terms and remuneration going forward - the key to this being successful however will be in the operation of the levy and the distribution of funds.

We are hopeful that we can use this opportunity to start really improving the grassroots live scene for all involved; keeping venues open, and artists - as performers and songwriters - on more financially stable tours, with less risk-taking involved.

We'll continue to use our presence on the LIVE Board (the industry trade organisation of the UK's contemporary live music sector), to ensure our members are represented in the discussions around the levy and wider live issues.

Get support as a live musician through MU membership

Over 11,000 MU members are live performing musicians. Whether you are playing at music festivals, performing at events or busking in the streets – MU membership is essential for your protection and career progression.

Resources and services for live performing MU members

Explore all membership benefits

Get support as a live musician through MU membership

Continue reading

Empty stage with drum kit, cast in green light in a small music venue.

MU Responds to CMS Report on Grassroots Music Venues

We welcome the recommendations made to Government in the report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMS), and are hopeful that we can use this opportunity to start to repair the grassroots live scene for all involved.

Published: 14 May 2024

Read more about MU Responds to CMS Report on Grassroots Music Venues
General Secretary Naomi Pohl stands in discussion outside of the Royal Opera House

2023 End of Year Round Up

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl reports back on the work that the Union has done through 2023, as well as setting out some of MU’s intentions for 2024, and more general food for thought about the music industry.

Published: 30 December 2023

Read more about 2023 End of Year Round Up
Belfast event with a crowd watching the panellists on stage. Behind them a projector says 'Fair Play on Tour 2023' with the MU logo.

Fair Play on Tour 2023: Celebrating a Decade of the MU Fair Play Venue Scheme

Natalie Witts-Kilshaw, MU Live, Theatre and Music Writers Official, reflects on this year’s series of live themed events, which collectively marked a decade of the Fair Play Venue scheme. Find out what our members and fellow musicians were discussing on each leg of the tour.

Published: 13 December 2023

Read more about Fair Play on Tour 2023: Celebrating a Decade of the MU Fair Play Venue Scheme
A map of East London with Haggerston marked out in bright yellow

Exciting East London Addition to Fair Play Venue Scheme

The MU are excited to welcome Signature Brew Haggerston to our Fair Play Venue scheme, which invites independent music venues to declare their support for the fair treatment of musicians and their opposition to pay-to-play and unfair ticketing deals.

Published: 15 November 2023

Read more about Exciting East London Addition to Fair Play Venue Scheme