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Unjust Treatment of Musicians Raised at Economic Affairs Committee

The MU’s General Secretary, Horace Trubridge, explained to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that, “[MU] members don’t want to have to go cap in hand to the Government. They want to work, they want to perform, they want to earn money again that way.”

Published: 08 October 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
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“This is a viable industry which the Government is preventing from working. And as such, I think the Government has a responsibility to look after this industry.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

On Tuesday 6 October, the MU’s General Secretary Horace Trubridge spoke to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee about how the ecology of how musicians work is not being reflected in the Government’s funding initiatives, how a viable industry is being prevented from working, and how self-employed workers need as much support as people on PAYE.

He began by explaining how the Government’s current income support schemes are simply not doing enough to protect musicians and the risk of a talent drain being created – reminding the committee that 34% of our members told us they were having to consider leaving the profession in a recent survey.

He also highlighted the injustice of Arts Council England (ACE) told by the Government that they are not allowed to make £1.57bn cultural fund available to freelancers, stating:

“What’s missing here is an understanding of the ecology of how musicians and creatives work. Of course it’s important that creatives create and that funds are available from Arts Council for new creative projects. But you also need world class musicians to deliver creative projects and those are the people who are being left out of the equation and will leave the industry.”

People will always want live music

Horace explained how the Culture Recovery Fund is mainly aimed at keeping institutions going while closed, and how this would not act to protect the countries music industry:

“It’s not providing work, and that’s what we really need. We need a stimulus scheme that will enable our workforce to get back to work, or they will leave…If you want to mount Glastonbury next year, where are you going to find those sound engineers and lighting technicians if they all migrate to other industries where it’s more secure?”

“To start with, the venues can’t operate… it’s not just theatre or musical theatre that can’t operate on 30%. Music venues can’t either and that’s why we’re backing the One Voice campaign… It would enable the workforce to work.”

“People want live music. They will always want live music… Music has to be experienced live. Everybody knows that, there’s no secret there. It’s not like we’re going to have work hard to get audiences back because they are desperate to see it.”

“This is a viable industry which the Government is preventing from working. And as such, I think the Government has a responsibility to look after this industry, and the people who made this industry great, the envy of the world.”

The beauty and appeal of live music will never diminish

Horace then went on to point out how the Government’s different support schemes are failing musicians, and how MU members want to return to work – but they need support to be able to do so:

“[MU] members don’t want to have to go cap in hand to the Government. They want to work, they want to perform, they want to earn money again that way.

“So maybe the seat stimulus plan is one that can enable them to work. But they need some kind of support otherwise they will leave the industry.”

“I don’t think the beauty and appeal of live music will ever diminish in the public’s minds. People will spend more money on one ticket to go see a particular live music event then they’d pay for the whole catalogue of recordings for that particular artist because they know full well they are likely to have the experience of lifetime.

“That goes for musical theatre, rock bands or any kind of musical performance. The key thing is will we have the workforce to deliver on it”

Take action now

Join our urgent call to the Government to do more, in order to safeguard the future of the UK’s music culture and industry – ask your MP to make your voice heard in Parliament.

You can use our template letter if you’re not sure what to say. Remember to include how you are affected too – personal stories make all the difference.

Write to your MP now.

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