UK industry expert proposes £1 concert ticket levy to save grassroots music

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  • A small fee on tickets at arenas and stadiums could be used to set up a support fund, Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, told MPs this week.
  • UK industry expert proposes £1 concert ticket levy to save grassroots music image
  • A new redistribution scheme to support live music at DIY and independent venues in the UK was discussed at a parliamentary meeting yesterday, March 26th. Speaking to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, suggested a £1 fee on gig tickets at arenas and stadium halls, with the income going towards a fund for artists, promoters and venues. Davyd's proposal is inspired by a policy in France where 3.5 percent of each ticket sale for big live music events goes to the government's Centre National De La Musique, which in turn supports grassroots players. A fund would help small live music operators "take risks with their programming and really give artists the first step on the ladder they need," Davyd explained, noting the tax could either be paid by ticket buyers or the arenas themselves. "One of the biggest concerns, frankly, is that artists can't afford to tour," he continued. "With the lengths of tours we're seeing it's not just that venues aren't there to play in, it's also that venues are standing empty when they could be putting on bands because bands cannot afford to put on the show." Davyd has been pushing for a UK concert tax since late last year in light of rising economic and financial pressures on the independent music sector. According to the Music Venue Trust, 125 UK venues were forced to close during 2023. One of these was legendary Bath club Moles, which shut in December after 45 years due to the cost-of-living crisis. Davyd's idea was met with some pushback at Tuesday's meeting. A £1 levy would hurt arenas and stadiums, said John Drury, who is chair at National Arenas Association and also vice-president and general manager at OVO Arena Wembley. "Given that many of our venues are managed on behalf of private landlords, city councils and charitable trusts, the impact would be something like a 20 percent cut in our EBITDA." To hear Tuesday's full discussion, watch the meeting on the UK Parliament website.