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DCMS Committee flags up discrimination, lack of investment, threats to small venues and warns the public about using Viagogo

12 April 2019

A “HIGHLY unusual” warning by Members of Parliament on the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) Committee not to use controversial secondary ticketing website Viagogo was the standout finding of its Live Music report.

The document also highlighted issues such as discrimination, financial insecurity among emerging artistes and the closure of small venues as potential threats to the future of an otherwise thriving industry.

As reported by sister publication Audience last month (issue 230), the Committee says “Viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance . . . and flouting consumer law.”

Is says, “It is imperative that the CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] acts promptly and decisively to bring Viagogo into line with consumer law, and until it does so, we advise the public not to buy or sell tickets via Viagogo.”

The Committee’s report also suggested the music industry should channel a greater proportion of its revenues into supporting artistes at the early stages of their careers, after hearing from musician Tom Gray of Gomez that major labels’ long-term investments in building artiste careers “has more or less disappeared”. 

The report stated, “Without access to …reliable income streams, people from a diverse range of backgrounds will struggle to build viable careers in the industry” and it recommends that DCMS and industry body UK Music set up a taskforce this year to explore how to support investment in grassroots talent.

The report identified business rate increases and commercial development as threats to the health of the emerging artiste venue network

The Committee welcomed the recent adoption of the agent of change principle in planning policy, which strengthened protection around live venues..

“We recommend that the Government appoints a statutory consultative body to promote the protection of music venues, provide advice to local authorities on planning applications and monitor how ‘agent of change’ is applied,” the reported said.

The report also observed that, in spite of the success of Grime artistes such as Stormzy, Wiley and Bugzy Malone, upcoming artistes in that genre often experienced abrupt show cancellations and, until late 2017, were unfairly affected by the Metropolitan Police’s risk assessment form 696.

Jane Beese, head of music at London’s The Roundhouse (3,300), told the Committee that urban music “is not being supported by councils. There is still … institutionalised racism, hindering that scene rather than allowing it to flourish.”

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