The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Sir Elton John has warned MPs that the UK music industry could lose "a generation of talent" because of post-Brexit restrictions on touring the EU. The musician accused ministers of being unwilling to fix a "gaping hole" in the current Brexit deal which means artists need costly visas to play in the bloc.
The government says the EU rejected its attempts to negotiate visa-free travel, while the EU claims the opposite. Sir Elton called the situation a "looming catastrophe" for the UK. "I want to be clear that the issues of visa-free and permit-free touring aren't about the impact on me, and artists who tour arenas and stadiums," he said. "This gravest of situations is about the damage to the next generation of musicians and emerging artists, whose careers will stall before they've even started due to this infuriating blame game.
"If I had faced the financial and logistical obstacles facing young musicians now when I started out, I'd never have had the opportunity to build the foundations of my career and I very much doubt I would be where I am today." His statement was read to MPs during a hearing by the Digital, Culture, Media (DCMS) and Sport Committee on EU visa arrangements for those in the creative industries. Sir Elton later posted the letter in full on Instagram.
Musical Notes - Boris Johnson has said he is in talks with Andrew Lloyd Webber over the planned West End opening of his new musical, Cinderella. The prime minister said he had "colossal admiration" for Lloyd Webber and the theatre sector and promised to do "whatever we can to be helpful" for the production, which is due to begin previews later this month and which Lloyd Webber had planned to run without social distancing.
At a press conference yesterday, Johnson announced that the full opening of theatres would be delayed until July 19. It had been due to take place on June 21. He was asked what he would say to Lloyd Webber, "who says that [the government is] bankrupting a critical and irreplaceable industry".
Johnson said: "I’ve got colossal admiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber, the entire theatre sector is one of the great glories of this country, and it’s broken everybody’s heart to see what [it has] had to go through, and I bitterly regret the fact that we must be cautious again now. On Cinderella and Lloyd Webber’s latest production I think we’re in talks with him to try and make it work and we’ll do whatever we can to be helpful. There are some pilot events we hope to go ahead even in the next four weeks."
Responding to Johnson’s latest comments, Lloyd Webber said: "My goal is to fight for the full and safe reopening of theatre and live music venues up and down the country. I was pleased and surprised to hear the prime minister mention Cinderella this evening, but I can’t comment further on the proposed pilot until I know more about the scheme."
Going Green - Leading companies including London’s National Theatre, the National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre Wales have committed to making their output more sustainable, by producing their work according to a new set of standards for the sector.
The Theatre Green Book has been endorsed by organisations such as the Royal Opera House, London’s Old Vic, Scottish Opera and the Royal Court in London, with all planning to adopt its policies as soon as possible. Created during lockdown, and spearheaded by the Theatres Trust, Buro Happold and the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Theatre Green Book has brought together theatre-makers and sustainability experts to “set common standards for sustainable theatre”. It has been led by theatre architect Paddy Dillon.
NT joint chief executive Lisa Burger said: “We have to seize this moment and the Theatre Green Book is a brilliant resource for the whole sector. The National Theatre is continuing to make its work as sustainable as possible by committing to adopting the baseline principles of the Theatre Green Book for all productions over the next 12 months.”
Payback Time - Sony Music has cancelled the debts of thousands of artists who signed to the record label before the year 2000. It means that many will now, for the first time, earn money when their songs are streamed on services like Spotify and Amazon Music. Sony said it could not name the eligible acts due to confidentiality agreements, but a source said it would "include household names". It said some artists stood to receive "many thousands of dollars per year".
Sony's announcement came in a letter to artists. "We are not modifying existing contracts, but choosing to pay through on existing unrecouped balances to increase the ability of those who qualify to receive more money from uses of their music," it said.
Music industry lawyer Aurelia Butler-Ball said the scheme would "unlock" streaming revenues that artists were not previously entitled to, under contracts signed during the CD and cassette era. "Many of the record deals [made] before 2000 didn't recognise that streaming platforms would ever exist," she said. "Therefore, artists didn't have the right mechanisms in place to see those revenues."
(Jim Evans)
15 June 2021

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