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The Creative Industries must make themselves heard

The Creative Industries must make themselves heard

Britain has always been a leader in the creative industries, but a question mark hovers over its future. At a time of Brexit, an NHS stretched to breaking point, and spending cuts, it is easy for industries that are doing relatively well to be overlooked by Government but to do so could be a disaster. This has never been truer than for the creative industries, who enjoyed a bumper year in 2016 (contributing £84 billion to the UK economy) but are largely ignored by policymakers. Yet the continued success of this sector is by no means guaranteed.

UK creative industries

Brexit will have far-reaching consequences for the creative industries in a myriad of ways. One of the most significant changes is likely to be to freedom of movement, which could negatively impact the sector’s ability to attract key talent from overseas. Likewise, any requirement for British citizens to have visas to work in Europe could be costly and time-consuming. This will be problematic for anyone in the industry who needs to frequently work in European countries, e.g. musicians on tour. Plus, a business’ ability to protect its intellectual property (which is largely governed by EU law at the moment) could be significantly reduced, affecting everything from design to publishing, film and music.

Additionally, the future funding that Britain’s creative sectors get from EU bodies could be at risk. Figures from Creative Europe show that it supported 230 cultural and creative firms in the UK in 2014/15. There are questions over what will happen to this, and other similar funding streams, after Brexit, and the government should take steps to reassure bodies who might be affected.

Music streaming: Are songs becoming too accessible?

The Official Charts Company announced earlier today that songs played on streaming services such as Spotify will be counted as part of the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of next month. This decision marks the first time that chart positions could be affected without fans paying for the most popular songs.

The move comes in light of the continued popularity and growth of music streaming where an average of 260 million songs are currently streamed per week. The Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot justified the decision by stating that the changes are about “future proofing the charts.”

“So far this year we’ve seen nine tracks which have been streamed more than one million times in a week,” Talbot explained. “Last year there were only two tracks that had reached that kind of level.”

Music sharing sites have recently been criticised by artists.

However, in order to ensure that users are unable to hugely influence the chart by streaming one song constantly throughout the week, 100 streams will be the equivalent of one single purchase or download and only ten plays will count per user, per day.

The move clearly reflects the new ways in which people are digesting and listening to music in this day and age where access to content is so freely available. However, it remains to be seen if the artists will be fairly remunerated for their content on streaming sites, and how this decision will affect the direction of the music industry as a whole.

While up and coming artists may potentially see an increase in their chart positions as users of streaming sites can easily experiment with new sounds risk-free, the decision to count streaming data could be controversial amongst established artists who have accused Spotify and other streaming services of exploiting their music and paying them tiny royalties in return.

Writing in the Guardian last year, David Byrne, former lead singer of Talking Heads, said the amount paid to artists per stream was “minuscule… if artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they’ll be out of work within a year.”

It’s clear that if the new generation of fans were to begin solely using music streaming sites the music industry would need to have a serious rethink about the platforms on which songs are available. Therefore, music bosses need to hope that the inclusion of streaming data will add variety to the charts rather than favour ease of access listening over buying songs, which could heavily impact the royalties that artists receive for their talent.