IN THIS BRIEFING —
REPORT – The Ivors 2010
COMMENT — Just For The Olympic Record
COMMENT – National No Music Day?
BASCA BRIEFING JUNE 2010
Welcome to the June edition of our monthly public affairs bulletin, BASCA Briefing. A digest of current activities and BASCA policy, in each issue the Briefing will provide a short introduction to our active campaigns, and look at news issues from the music writers’ point of view. We hope you will find it useful; if you would like any further information, please telephone us on 0207 636 2929 or email email@example.com
REPORT – The Ivors 2010
The 55th Ivor Novello Awards took place in London on May 20th and as the hosts of the event we were delighted to welcome a dazzling array of winners, presenters and guests to The Grosvenor House. The Ivors are an opportunity to celebrate, to network and to show off the incredible range of songwriting talent in this country - talent we are immensely proud to represent. “Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, it's the songs I'm most proud of", said Lily Allen on the day, after she had picked up three awards together with her co-writer Greg Kurstin. BASCA’s guests included Ed Vaizey, four days into his new job as Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, as well as John Whittingdale MP, Paul Alsey, Head of Music, Press Regulation & Media Classification at DCMS and Emma McClarkin MEP who sits on the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament .
After the event The Guardian wrote: “Heartfelt speeches are not in short supply at the Ivors, an awards ceremony that remains popular with artists both for its celebration of craft above sales and its refusal to allow TV cameras into the auditorium.” Our own heartfelt speech, by BASCA Chairman Sarah Rodgers, got straight to the point on an issue that currently vexes most of the industry when she said ‘Save 6 Music’. She went on to say that closing BBC 6 Music to make way for commercial operators to fill the gap is absurd, and called the decision an ‘act of cultural vandalism’. While it’s impolite to put one’s guests on the spot, Sarah couldn’t resist reminding Mr Vaizey of his stated support for the station during the general election campaign. Her speech, which was met with cheers from the room, formed the basis of BASCA’s formal submission to the BBC in response to the Director-General’s proposals. We await the outcome of the consultation in the hope that our voice, as well as that of many of our colleagues, really has been heard.
COMMENT— Just For The Olympic Record
There is no doubt that government spending is a mystery and in truth, who would want to wade through the miles of figures which must cross the Treasury desks day in day out. From time to time however, there is a synchronicity of announcements which makes one pause to ask a question or two. Within a breath of one another last month, two announcements fleetingly hit the headlines, apparently unconnected, but provoking BASCA to look below the surface. The first announcement was by the DCMS outlining the department’s ‘contibution to reducing the Government deficit’. The second piece of news came not from the DCMS, but from a related stable, that of LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), whose recent proud boast is that they have signed up Universal Music to, ‘write, record and publish music for the London 2012 Olympic Games’. In the first deal of its kind by an Olympic organiser, London 2012 will work with the company to release London 2012-branded music, including compilation albums, exclusively.
That word exclusively rings the first alarm bell. Universal Music Group's wide-ranging collection of labels and artists, we are told, will provide the musical talent. What about opportunities for artists not signed to this publisher? The deal looks to be comprehensive – according to Chris Townsend, London 2012 commercial director, it will cover, “from playing music to build up the atmosphere before events, to soundtracks to film and, of course, music at ceremonies,” and “the composition, recording and in some cases, sale of London 2012 music." There is,” he says, “a massive role for music at the games." True enough, a massive role indeed and also a massive opportunity, and that surely is the point - not the signing to Universal but the act of restricting provision to one supplier.
Coming as news of this deal does under the shadow of DCMS cuts, BASCA questions seriously whether the no doubt considerable funds promised to a single supplier could, with a little more effort on the part of Chris Townsend and the London 2012 administration, have gone to the broader spectrum of UK artists and creators.
COMMENT— National No Music Day?
As has been pointed out in the latest edition of BASCA’s magazine, The Works, there is “music, music everywhere”. It’s often said that music forms the soundtrack to our lives, and in the age of social media and instant communication this prevalence continues to increase, and exponentially. Apple’s new iPad, launched in the UK last week, will carry a high definition version of the BBC’s iPlayer; the service streams more than 100 million programmes a month, most of which include music. Yet the public perception of the economic value of music has not kept pace with its ever more prominent position in our lives; music is taken for granted to the extent that many of the younger “web native” generation think that it ought to be free.
At a recent industry event in Stockholm it was suggested that we might illustrate the importance of music by organising a “National No Music Day”. Surely if we can have “National Record Store Day” or “National No Smoking Day” we could hijack the idea to emphasise the importance and value of music? Imagine: no music on the radio, on U-tube, on television, in theatres or cinemas. No music in video games or in pubs, clubs or concert halls. It very quickly became apparent that the notion of even thinking about organising such a day would be impossible.
The use of music is now so intertwined with society and all our lives that it cannot be extricated. It drives our economy to an extent that is quite simply staggering. Businesses in every sector understand the economic benefit that using music brings and in BASCA’s view it is not unreasonable for the writers of music to expect to share in that benefit. In fact it’s vital to the continuing survival of the industry, and to the value that great music writing creates. As we are not able, even in a good cause, to turn the music off in order to remind people of its worth, perhaps the way to make the point is to ask the question – what would a day without music be like? Simply unimaginable.