UK music industry desperate for grassroots support

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The UK music business is in dire need of government tax breaks to help bring through the next generation of rock stars, an industry expert has warned.

Tax breaks are in place for other creative industries but not for music. And Tim Ingham, editor of Music Business Worldwide, says a change is needed if we are to see more breakthrough acts like Royal Blood making an impact.

Ingham this week took aim at new government figures on the worth of the UK’s creative industries which, he says, fail to shed light on the true state of the music business.

A report by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) says the Creative Industries are worth £76.9 billion a year to the UK economy. And according to the report, the music, performing and visual artists sub-section did particularly well, with employment rising 14.4% in 2013.

But Ingham says the report is short on detail when it comes to the specifics of the music industry and blames a lack of proper research into the work carried out by A&R (artists and repertoire) staff.

He tells TeamRock: “The last few years has seen tax breaks introduced for creative industries in the UK such as video games, TV and animation – the movie industry has had one for years. This in turn helps create funding for the grassroots of these projects.

“The music industry doesn’t benefit from those tax breaks and it absolutely should. The most obvious way to apportion such tax relief would be to A&R – the extra money would allow record labels and publishers to give more new acts more investment to develop their sound and songwriting.”

Ingham points to sections of the DCMS report which hint at a lack of research into A&R, such as the paragraph which reads: “While a good part of the music industry is implicitly included in the codes making up the Creative Industries Economic Estimates, the industry and occupation codes do not allow the contribution of music to be satisfactorily identified in a separate category. Occupation codes do not allow a number of roles to be identified e.g. in A&R.”

He adds: “What is most disappointing about the DCMS’s latest figures is that they don’t give any specific detail on the music industry – they openly admit their data fails to properly account for A&R’s value and employee figures.

“That information would be extremely valuable for the music business to argue the case for tax breaks. Instead, the government is basically saying to the music industry, ‘You’re a bit too complicated for us.’”