Bands and venues back appeal to save Scottish music industry

Biffy Clyro and Primal Scream are among the signatories to a Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce letter to Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Bands including Biffy Clyro and Primal Scream are among signatories to a letter calling on the Scottish Government to support music businesses “before it is too late”.

The newly established Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce has written to Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop calling for more money for the music industry, clarity on arts funding and a timeline for venues reopening without social distancing.

Other artists who have put their name to the letter include KT Tunstall, Mogwai, The Proclaimers, Texas and Simple Minds.

It is also backed by the organisers of festivals including TRNSMT and Belladrum, plus venues such as the Barrowlands, the SEC and Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

National Television Awards 2015 – Show – London
The Proclaimers put their name on the letter (Ian West/PA)

The letter welcomes the Scottish Government’s announcement of £10 million for performing arts venues and the UK Government’s £1.57 billion investment for cultural, arts and heritage institutions, of which £97 million is heading to Scotland.

It notes Scottish music businesses are “still falling through the gaps of these schemes” and calls on the Scottish Government to use the £97 million for a Culture and Creative Industries Infrastructure Fund that commercial music businesses can access to “support survival and promote recovery”.

The task force said it is not clear if the £10 million fund applies to commercial music venues.

Further demands include providing a “clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing” and for Scottish ministers to press the UK Government for a full VAT exemption on ticket sales and to review the need for further business and employment support in the future should live music have to remain suspended beyond six months.

“We write with a specific request for support for commercial music businesses who are on their knees through no fault of their own,” the taskforce said in the letter.

“These businesses encompass the most experienced in our industry and are at imminent risk of closure, or at least will need to let experienced staff go.”

It concludes: “We recognise and welcome the additional targeted measures that the Scottish Government has taken to address gaps in UK schemes to protect Scotland’s arts and culture sector.

“However, the Scottish commercial music industry has unique needs and operates within different parameters from the not for profit/subsidised sector and we urge you to address these as a matter of priority and before it is too late.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on Scotland’s music industry and we welcome the formation of this new taskforce.

“The Scottish Government and partners worked rapidly to establish significant financial support for performers and organisations affected by the crisis, including the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursaries, which have already supported people who work in the music industry, recognising the specific challenges faced by freelance musicians and venues.

“We have been calling on the UK Government to provide further support to culture and creative industries, and we welcome the recent announcement.

“We are actively considering the best means to provide this additional support to organisations and individuals in Scotland.

“We are in close contact with the music industry and are working to develop clear guidance to help performances resume and venues to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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