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Creative industries involve the exploitation and generation of information or knowledge in a range of economic activities. While such activities have been present in the society for a very long time, the concept has just recently been proven and adopted in the political, economic, and business settings. As indicated by Jones (2009), the creative industry has become a sector and a next instrument for satisfying ambitions including those of the government and politicians having exponentially grown into a global economic sector. The state has continually used the creative industry to shape its political manifestos, style, and image mainly at the economic and business perspectives. For example, Great Britain, though a huge political force is at the global level associated with some of its creative minds including the Beatles, David Bowie, Sting, and the Libertines among others. In this paper, we will consider the effects of music as a section of the creative industries including its benefits as a social and political context and address the role that the government should play in the continuity of the music industry. Specifically, the paper supports government funding of the music industry in the United Kingdom.
Music has been one of the greatest inspirations in the creative industries being a historical marvel that is associated with modernity and industrialisation. The cultural habit of listening to music is of the ways that have marked modernity and distinctions from the medieval period. In the 19th century, significant cultural distinctions emerged when popular and classical music became a cultural sensation in Europe such that the European Elites would travel across cities to watch canonical composers while the working class paid music halls to view travelling performers play their favourite songs (Lashua, Spracklen, and Long 2014, 5). Following major technology advancements, music is no longer restrained to the elite or limited by geographical space. Music has become a global portent where an artist acts as a regional ambassador promoting the people’s culture. Music travels and transcends geographical limitations within minutes of release through commercial and informal recordings, broadcasts, or downloads. The huge global presence is what makes music a powerful tool desired by local and foreign authorities as an economic resource and contributing to tourism as people travel as festival and concert goers, fans, or as travel accompaniment. As globalisation improves and capitalism thrives, other industries and governments are using music and other arts as part of the cultural entrepreneurial approach aimed at rebranding and repositioning cities and countries. People have understood that music is a cultural phenomenon that transcends geographical lines and acts as attractive propositions with significant economic impacts to the local communities.
Creative industries including the music sector have become hard to ignore at the political and economic avenues due to their influence and impact to any country’s economy. The music and cultural industries have grown into an essential component of the local and state economic stratagems (Lovink and Rossiter 2007). Owing to its huge social presence, music has gained global recognition as politicians and other policymakers involved in public issues attempting to gain popularity with music stakeholders. In 2013, for example, Mark Garnier an MP one of the major political parties in the UK noted this influence and described music as the second biggest contributor to the UK economy through its exports. The MP stated that the music industry is an integral measure of the domestic heritage (Ingham 2016). According to Ingham (2016), the music industry contributed over £4 billion towards the UK economy particularly due to its growing popularity at the global level since UK artists produced 5 of the top 10 best-selling worldwide albums. Based on such economic contributions, the economic potential of the industry is striking in the UK neo-liberal economy.
The British policymakers sought measures aimed at improving the region’s values and image at the global level during the post-industrialization era as a measure for enhancing the country’s visibility globally. During the 20th
century, the government embraced music as a regional source of revenue with government agents such as Tony Blair declaring music as a decent industry with exemplary business incentives (Lovink and Rossiter 2007). As per Blair’s outlook, the music industry had the potential of promoting a new image for Britain and increasing GDP numbers. Blair invested significantly with musicians being seen publicly with artists such as Cool Britannia, Oasis, and Vivienne Westwood seeking to achieve a personal image of coolness that would attract the youth into his political movement. The approach adopted by Blair was in contrast to the technique employed by Thatcher especially since her political initiative was surrounded by criticism from musicians who supported the miners’ strike using their creativity to influence the public opinion.
The political involvement illustrates the power and influence that music has in the UK. Politicians want to be praised by musicians and they dread any criticism from these artists with a huge global following. For example, Noel Gallagher has been caught chatting with the Prime minister which would have been impossible in the past before the realisation of the political and social powers associated with music. The New labour party implored artists to avoid socially decay content in favour of the socially useful art that promoted the country’s image during the 1930 proposition whose initiative was to bur any opposition to the state. According to Lovink and Rossiter (2007), the government wanted to avoid the ‘bohemian Avant-grade’ radical movement the radical movement at the time. During this initiative, the artists viewed the government initiative as a diminishing approach as indicated by the Oasis leader Damon Albarn who objected to the government secluded funding of the music industry stating that they intended to take the artists for a ride using them as social instruments rather than creative employees and workers (Lovink and Rossiter 2007).
The government should fund the music industry as an economic development agenda aimed at not only promoting the industry as a source of youth employment but also improving the tourism sector. In the UK, major cities such as Newcastle and Manchester attract fan tourists wishing to visit sites that are associated with their favourite musicians and also in the participation of live shows and concerts (Long 2013, p.52). Similarly, more foreign revenue is earned through recording companies since Britain and other regions have some of the best recording studios that attract international artists some of whom issue celebrity endorsements to visited cities. These events and facilities would be improved significantly through substantial government funding programs giving UK cities critical acclamation and global recognition. Shows such as the British Got Talent were sources of international inspiration as they explored music as an economic and international concept being the bases on which other international shows have been formulated. The tourism sector can thrive further if the government invested in the development of such music centres and state concerts that would attract thousands of foreign visitors each year. The government funding can be used in the mapping of cultural spaces and in the promotion of UK music industry since musicians can contribute subtly in shaping regional perceptions and as tourism marketing agents.
Culture is the fundamental source of any regional attraction and music is the facilitator of cultural development and identity. For decades, festivals have been used to promote and advance traditions. The rise in urbanisation has led to the development of global interest in foreign cultures as people embrace others in the spirit of sharing and unity. Government support and even organising of such music festivals will be a significant boost to UK cultural appearance and promotion at the global level. Festivals such as Wish You Were Here attract diverse people from different regions and countries wishing to enjoy and learn from the UK music culture. A report generated by UK Music (2017) determined that the music industry sustained over 14000 jobs in the year 2016, contributed to approximately 5% GVA growth, and led to a 25 percent growth in publishing exports. The statistics also highlight the growth in the industry with a reported 30.9 million live music audience in the year 2016 attending nearly 27 million music concerts and 3.8 festivals across the United Kingdom.
In addressing the case of unemployment in the UK, the music industry has been a source of employment for years with an estimated direct employment of over 142000 people including musicians, live music, producers, representatives, recorders, and publishers (UK Music 2017, 14). The figures would rise drastically if all individuals working in the music industry were considered including those involved in online marketing and sales, local entrepreneurs dealing in music shows and sales, and individuals in the tourism industry working at festivals and other music concerts. With the government involvement and contributions, the sector can be fully formalised eliminating loopholes that hinder optimal economic development and employment rates by preventing piracy and other illegal activities experienced by those working in the music industry.
Government funding could also be used in the regulation of the music industry owing to the industry’s immense strength in cultural orientation to regulate content and promote positive cultural depiction aimed at improving local image and business in the country. While most UK music is family friendly, there are some artists and genres that transmit senses of despair, decay, drugs, and dereliction which is not part of the discourses of regional marketing which may carry implications to the tourism and cultural sectors (Long 2013, 50). Through government funding, artists would be encouraged to act as city ambassadors and culture promoters. The government can use subsidies and tax systems to regulate the industry. For example, festivals organised with the government support promoting the music industry could only be limited to select artists with a positive message and cultural implication to their local area. Governments could also offer subsidies to recording houses whose interests include cultural awareness and shaping positive perceptions among listeners. Regions such as Liverpool have gained global recognition as the home of the music group, the Beatles who have a huge global following since their music reflect experiences in the city engaging with landscapes in the area in a manner that is reflected in the consumers’ memories (Long 2013, 49).
The position assumed by the music industry as a cultural and commercial activity in the United Kingdom is one of the factors contributing to the reconceptualisation of the cultural industry within the creative industry sector. Popular music and the music industry in the UK is a cultural activity that forms an important aspect of daily living bringing people from different geographical regions and believes together. The industry is also a critical driver of the tourism sector warranting government involvement to promote its activities and industrial development in the UK. The UK consumer market is willing and capable of spending in the live sector especially since the4 music industry remains a predominant sector that attracts individuals from within and those at international boundaries visiting the UK as fans or pilgrims in respect to their favourite music. The industry has also contributed significantly to the region’s economic development being a huge source of employment and tourist attraction. Music is regarded as a means of recording UK’s history and projecting its national or regional identity at the global; setting. As the industry grows, it is evidently becoming an emerging area of policymakers focus and any government funding and contributions can be used to promote positive change rather than impede the industry. As such, investments should be directed in promoting the sector as a source of foreign investment owing to the increasing number of artists and producers visiting the region to source out their music and due to the global influence the United Kingdom has had on music as a cultural investment and contributor to economic development.
Ingham, T. (2017). Free money for indie labels as UK Government pledges £2.8m grant - Music Business Worldwide. [Online] Music Business Worldwide. Available at: [Accessed June 8, 2018].
Jones, M. (2009). Martin Cloonan. Popular Music and the State in the UK: Culture, Trade or Industry? Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Pp. 166. $99.95 (cloth). The Journal of British Studies, 48(01): 272-273.
Lashua, B., Spracklen, K., and Long, P. (2014). Introduction to the special issue: Music and tourism. Tourist Studies, 14(1): 3-9.
Long, P. (2013). Popular music, psychogeography, place identity and tourism: The case of Sheffield. Tourist Studies, 14(1): 48-65.
Lovink, G. and Rossiter, N. (2007). My Creativity Reader. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, pp.23-27.
UK Music (2017). Measuring music 2017 report. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed June 8, 2018].
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