This morning, FAC Board member Fran Healy, met with the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the House of Common to discuss the current state of the UK music industry and the main challenges that we are facing. He sat in the company of artist manager, Stephen Budd and record producer, Steve Levine.
Fran’s initial statement can be read below:
Thank you for inviting me to this select committee. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to represent my industry at the highest level and hope I can be of some assistance in your enquiry.
My name is Fran Healy. I sing in the UK band Travis and I am a board member of the Featured Artists Coalition. Travis have been releasing records since our first self released 10 inch vinyl single in 1996. We were signed to an indie label called Independiente for 12 years, over which time we have toured the world, sold around 10 million albums, saw our singles and albums top the sales and airplay charts. As well as winning Brit awards for best album and best band, I was awarded an Ivor Novello award for songwriter of the year. I’m proud to be a British musical export. As a board member of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), I’m active in representing featured artists (artists who have signed record deals) providing a voice at the table, at a time when our industry is in transition.
I wanted to write this as an addition to what I will be talking about in the event I don’t manage to say everything I want to say.
Before I start I’d like you to listen not as a Member of Parliament but as a fan of music. Everyone is a fan of music. It soundtracks our lives from cradle, through teenagehood, weddings and funerals. We love it.
With that in mind, I see our industry in incredibly simple terms.
At the heart of our business is the relationship between the artist and the fan.
There are 4 main businesses which have flourished from this special relationship. The music publishing business, the record business, the merchandise business and the live music business.
I feel this has to be overstated because people sometimes think “the record business” is “the music business” when in fact it makes up only 25% of music business revenues. It’s an easy mistake to make and is sometimes even made by the record business.
So in order to help our industry become bigger and better in the 21st century we need to look at it in broad daylight, for what it actually is: four businesses revolving round a very special relationship; that of the fan and the artist.
Secondly, if the heart of our business is this relationship between the fan and artist, then the brains of our business are creatives. If we look at the history of the UK music industry, it is riddled with these incredible maverick businessmen and women in each of the four businesses who took it to the next level – Brian Epstein, Chris Blackwell, Richard Branson, Jeff Travis, Martin Mills, Bob Geldof to name a few – all creative and all of whom were massive music fans. Again we return to this idea of fan and artist at the core of the music industry. Just this time, fans who love it so much they started a business, probably because they realised how powerful that bond was.
Thirdly, I want to talk about education. I went to the largest comprehensive school in Europe, Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow. It’s a great school but I remember the struggle the art and music department had in securing the next year’s budget. Art and music were viewed as fluff, decoration at best. In speaking to art and music teachers today, it feels like it has gotten worse. It seems crazy when the pen in your hand, the carpet under your feet, the building you sit in, the cup you drink from, the computer you surf with, the bed you lie in (I could go on), but all of this was designed and created. Even on a scientific level, an education in art aids the thought process behind great discoveries. I spoke to Professor Anne Glover CBE, the Chief Scientific Adviser at the European Commission last week and she said that an education in art went hand in hand with science.
Creativity is a bedrock subject which you find not just in the art and music business but in every industry that exists. Supporting creativity at secondary school level will not just help our music business, but other businesses too. The 2012 Olympics are a great example of what investment in a specific area can do.
Lastly, I want to say from a business point of view that I believe it would be helpful if there were other sources of funding available to our business, not just the usual suspects e.g. record industry and publishers. A problem in current tax incentivised schemes is that they will only fund businesses if it is based on a royalty format. Again potential investors don’t understand our business. They only see 25% of our business – the record business. We are willing and able to go into long term partnerships which deal with all 4 parts of our business and would help support artists and develop new ones.
The future of our industry is bright but we have to think creatively and refocus on the artist and fan.
We have to scotch and redefine views which have gathered over decades about the idea of creativity and see it not as this thing to be put in a box over there with art supplies and musical instruments but rather see it as the thread which runs through all industry. That an artist isn’t just some person standing at an easel, or strutting around a stage or writing a novel. Art is about challenge and discovery. Scientists, engineers, mathematicians and the most successful industries have artistic creative thinkers at their core. Apple, Google.
So it’s of vital importance this creativity is nurtured and invested in from school onwards.
To see the complete session, please view the entire video here, which includes the previous panel with Jo Dipple and Andy Heath of UK Music, Geoff Taylor of the BPI and Alison Wenham of AIM.