Author: Paul Carr
Organisation/Affiliation: University of Glamorgan/Welsh Music Foundation
“According to a recent Performing Rights Society (PRS) report (Carey & Page 2010), the value of the UK music industry stood at £3.9bn in 2009. Within this total, live music revenues have increased 9.4%, to £1.5 bn, and although this increase was less than the previous year‟s 13%, it is still significant considering the UK is in the middle of one of the worst recessions in living memory…
As indicated in the Arts Council of Wales’ report Music Attendance and Participation (2005), 39% of its sample is seen to attend at least one popular music performance per year, with 11% attending at least one performance a month. When statistically compared to 13% for Classical concerts, 7% for Opera, and 11% for ‘Folk, Traditional and World Music’, Popular Music can be seen to clearly represent the most significant contribution to the Welsh economy, a fact that begs the question why it is described as ‘Other’ and attracts so little funding. Although a more recent publication by The Arts Council of Wales (2010) overtly states that it wishes to readdress this imbalance, there is still no exclusively funded popular music included in its ‘Revenue funded Organisations’ (RFO’s), which are still dominated by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera.
When one considers the rural landscape of Wales, it seems that taking advantage of the country’s potential for hosting music festivals is a prudent way of providing a quality cultural experience, in addition to increasing the nation’s share of the revenue live music currently generates… Even taking the differences of population into account, it is apparent that Wales is somewhere behind Scotland in the exploitation and retention of earnings from the live music industry, and one of the recommendations of this report is to finance detailed research into how Wales compares to other small nations, and more importantly how we can learn from them… Despite the predicted future downturn, live music will continue to offer a potential significant income stream for the Welsh music industry, and the overarching aim of this report is to provide the foundations for a long term strategy of ensuring a successful and economically viable live music sector in Wales.”
As a means of summarising the current position of the Welsh live music industry, a SWOT Analysis of the report can be outlined as follows:
- Wales has successfully produced many internationally acclaimed artists over a number of decades.
- The country already has a small number of excellent venues in various parts of the country.
- There are already a range of good infrastructural and business support mechanisms in place.
- Many Welsh artists have a strong national identity which assist the publicity of the nation to the world.
- Wales as a whole has a limited array of specialist music venues, in particular outside of the South.
- There is a perceived lack of infrastructure to assist the promotion of popular music activity throughout the country.
- As outlined in by Owen and Rhisiart (2010), areas surrounding the exploitation and retention of copyrighted works within Wales is problematic.
- There is a tendency for too many skilled workers being „imported‟ from England.
- Unlike many other small nations, there has been no fully funded mapping exercise of the Welsh music industry.
- Support for popular music from the Arts Council of Wales has room for improvement.
- Wales tends to be regarded as a ‘region’ of the UK as opposed to a nation in its own right.
- The development of similar Music Festivals to SWN, Green Man and Wakestock by working with organisations such as Welsh Assembly Government‟s new Major Events Unit and the Arts Council of Wales‟s new Festival Fund.
- The new Cerdd Cymru (Music Wales) partnership is a chance to align partners, in addition to consolidating many of the recommendations in this report, especially with international projects.
- The construction of an organisation similar to DF Concerts in Scotland (with WAG support) to ensure industry skills are nurtured, finance stays in Wales, and career aspirations are realised.
- To ensure that more people take on the challenge of live music promotion.
- For government to encourage more research and post graduate study into the Welsh music industry.
- To explore the means through which it is possible to empower musicians and live music enterprises to take advantage of the „micro loans‟ outlined in the Hargreaves Report (2010) recommendations.
- To develop a (potentially accredited) music promotion programme that teaches the necessary skill bases to promote music throughout Wales.
- Investigating the Live Music Industry In Wales: A Critical Analysis
- To explore the ways in which technologies such as Wolfgangs Vault and promotional tools such as Songkick, Band Metrics, Music Glue and My Band can be used to monetize live music within Wales.
- To develop alternative funding models for promoting music in Wales, such as the profit share scheme being developed by The Absurd Festival.
- To nurture future live music audiences by encouraging alcohol free venues for young people.
- There is a large media base in Wales, and if more welsh music was used, has the potential to positively impact the live sector.
- Various parts of Wales suffer from close proximity to English towns such as Bristol, London and Liverpool.
- Many participants in the Welsh industry give the impression that they reach a plateau in their career, after which they either change career or move out of Wales.
- The variance in local council infrastructures that encourage „night time economies‟.
- The practice of buying in technical skills for some music festivals.
- The shortfall in technical skills forecast by Creative and Cultural Skills (CCS).
- Depending on the local council and size of the band –the 2003 Licensing Act.
- Too much competition in small venues in Cardiff.
- Poor transport infrastructure in some parts of Wales.