The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Live and Kicking - More people are going to see live music than ever before, with attendance at concerts and festivals at an all-time high. The total gig-going audience soared by 12% to 30.9m in 2016, according to UK Music, contributing £4 billion to the country's economy. But there was a 13% drop in the amount of money being spent at small venues - those with a capacity of under 1,500. Those venues have been particularly under pressure in recent years.
The chief executive of trade body UK Music, Michael Dugher, stressed that small venues were a "vital part of the live music industry". "UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival," added the former Labour MP.
UK Music's Wish You Were Here report also found that 4m people attended a festival in 2016; and that 823,000 people travelled to the UK from abroad specifically to watch live music, spending an average of £850 per visit. Since 2011, the UK has seen a 76% rise in music tourism - but the live music industry has expressed concerns that Brexit could negatively affect those figures.
There are fears that artists might have to scale back European tours, especially if they are forced to apply for costly visas and £1,000 "carnet" documents - temporary import/export agreements - in order to transport equipment across borders. It may also prove harder for European musicians, technicians and fans, to travel to the UK. Dugher said he would be "pressing the government" to limit the impact of Brexit on the industry.
Money Matters - Andrew Lloyd Webber has said ticket prices for West End shows are "incredibly reasonable" given the cost of bringing a production to the stage. The composer, whose hits include Cats and Evita, is charging from £15 to more than £99.50 - for premium seats - for his London musical School of Rock.
The average ticket price for a West End musical in 2016 was £49.28 - up almost 6% on the previous year. "Theatre is incredibly labour intensive," he said. "On the whole, the prices of West End theatre are incredibly reasonable considering the cost of what it is to put something on." Last year, Lord Lloyd-Webber revealed that the physical running costs for one of his theatres was £38,000 per week. On top of that, there are the costs of staging the production itself. The Financial Times estimated that the total weekly costs of a top musical are £150,000-£250,000.
Elsewhere in the West End, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has a top price of £140, while Hamilton has £200 premium tickets for when it officially moves to London in December.
Secondary Sales - Ed Sheeran's promoter has said Google must do more to stop secondary ticket sales for the singer's gigs. Stuart Galbraith has called for the change after Google adverts pointed fans towards secondary site Viagogo, where tickets for Ed Sheeran's tour were being sold at inflated prices. "Google needs to bow to pressure and stop taking money for tickets which are sold on the secondary market," he said. Google said it had a set of strict policies on which ads it allows.
Game Changer - David Bowie has been honoured with a posthumous award for his final album Blackstar. The music legend's 25th studio recording won the pop music category at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards. In a video message, Iggy Pop accepted the accolade on his late friend's behalf and hailed Bowie as “changing the game in rock and roll and in popular music".
(Jim Evans)
11 July 2017

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