The Music Producers Guild calls for studios to get access to £1.57bn cultural rescue package
The letter is also signed by BPI, AIM, PRS for Music and the Featured Artists Collective
Last week MPG representatives spoke at a roundtable with the Creative Industries minister, Caroline Dinenage MP. In a follow-up letter they called for the minister to ensure that some of the 1.57billion cultural package announced earlier this month is made available to recording and rehearsal studios, who closed to protect public health during the pandemic, but who have been excluded from the retail and hospitality grant schemes.
Studios have already begun to close their doors, with the legendary Sawmills studio up for sale, and the newly established Piano Rooms in London closing due to the effects of Covid. The majority of studios have been turned down for discretionary grants and business rates relief by their local authorities, including the legendary Dean Street Studios in Soho, and Le Mob Studio in Hammersmith and Fulham. Owner of Le Mob, producer Brendan Lynch (Paul Weller, Primal Scream) said: “We have been closed for months, and are still limited in how we can record under social distancing, so we really need some support to recover and keep working”.
The letter states that 40% of recording studios face closure within 3 months without further support. It also makes the case that support for studios will help the wider economy, as music studios are now able to operate under safety guidelines developed by the MPG and others.
Our members have done the right thing and closed to protect public health and are now back working safely at reduced capacity. The chancellor said no-one would be punished for doing the right thing, and yet the majority of studios have continued to pay full rent and business rates throughout the crisis. With relatively small grants, the government could save hundreds of businesses and provide a lifeline for musicians, engineers and producers.
The letter is also signed by record label trade bodies, BPI and AIM, and collection society PRS for Music and the Featured Artists Collective, FAC.
Full letter below:
MP Minister of State (Minister for Digital and Culture)
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
23rd July 2020
Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the Creative Industries roundtable yesterday.
We would like to follow up on our request regarding recording studios in more detail.
There are around 500 commercial recording studios in the UK, the vast majority being SME’s or micro businesses. They provide the facilities and personnel to record some of the most successful music in the world. In 2019 3 of the top 10 bestselling records worldwide were made in UK studios and the soundtracks to 50% of the biggest grossing movies were recorded in UK studios. Many of our studios are of huge historical significance, their sought-after vintage equipment and experienced engineers having played a part in some of the great records of the 60’s, onwards and in normal times draw talent from across the world.
The DCMS select committee’s report, released today, states that “Grassroots music venues, as well as recording studios, act as research and development incubators of Britain’s highly successful music industry and are an invaluable part of the UK’s cultural musical heritage.”
Studios underpin a GVA of £568 million of recorded music which supports the entire £5.2 billion GVA of the music business. Without this infrastructure, that has been developed over decades, our commercial success will be much diminished.
The music recorded in our studios provides income for composers, artists, engineers, labels & their supply chains as well as being an essential part of film, television and games production. The vast majority of studios closed their doors between March and June to protect public health, and have spent June /July carefully resuming work under guidance developed with DCMS, PHE, HSE and industry colleagues.
Unfortunately, most have not been eligible for grants or rates reliefs, and 40% face closure within 3 months without further support, while some, including the famous Sawmills Studios have already made the decision to close. However, for many, relatively small grants would make a difference - the average to cover fixed costs for the closure period for this at-risk group would be £15k.
We suggest that recording and rehearsal studios are encouraged to apply to access funding to preserve cultural infrastructure, and that studios are specifically included in the eligibility criteria. We realise that not every business can be saved, but we would suggest considering historical significance, cultural value to a particular area as well local economic impact and future economic viability.
As studios have been one of the first parts of the industry to come back and restart economic activity, any funding would flow directly back into the economy, and provide welcome opportunities for some parts of the industry to get back to work. With 37% of MPG members (engineers and producers) and 38% of MU members falling outside the criteria for SEISS or furlough, this would enable talent to stay in the industry and prevent further hardship.
Olga FitzRoy, Executive Director, MPG
Andrea Martin, Chief Executive, PRS for Music
David Martin, General Manager, Featured Artists Coalition
Paul Pacifico, CEO, AIM
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive, BPI
About PRS for Music
PRS for Music represents the rights of over 155,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the UK and around the world. On behalf of its members, it works to grow and protect the value of their rights and ensure that creators are paid transparently and efficiently whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2020, 22.4 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music, with £699m paid out in royalties to its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.
PRS for Music’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music.