The Welsh Music Industry is currently standing at a crossroads: is it always to be reliant on the industrial infrastructure of England? is it always to accept the fact that concert ticket sales are often slow (making the business of music promotion even more risky); does it accept that potential audiences have to be prepared to go travel to regions such as Bristol and Manchester for concerts that should be happening in Wales? is it acceptable to ‘buy in’ skills for major events as opposed to utilising and training indigenous talent?
The recent research I conducted for the Welsh Music Foundation does not propose that it has solutions to many of these questions, although it hopefully raises numerous important issues – that must be addressed if Wales is to break free of the predicaments outlined above. As stated in the report, the Welsh live music industry currently constitutes around 4% of the UK total – around 60 million per year. With a population of around 3 million, Wales makes up around 5% of the UK population – so it could be argued that this division of profit seems about right. However, I would argue, that in a globalised economy, Wales as a nation (as opposed to a region of the UK!) has an opportunity to focus on specific areas of the live music industry, that would facilitate a greater cut of the £1.5 billion live music currently generates.
As verified in the debate that followed on from my talk for the Institute of Welsh Affairs in Chapter Arts yesterday, this needs to start from the bottom up. In my view, factors such as ensuring the commercial music sector in particular are empowered to take advantage of the seed grants being made available by the Arts Council of Wales (in order to propagate innovation), the importance of constructive dialogues between the music industry and local councils (such as that currently taking place between the Welsh Music Foundation and Cardiff Council), and ensuring the training Wales offers reflects both the needs of the global and local industry, will all provide the foundation for what everybody wants – Wales making the most of the most of the economic and cultural opportunities live music presents.
The Welsh live music industry can only do business with the outside world if it has the skills and infrastructures in place within its borders, and this report will hopefully provide a commencement point for this to take place.
Here is a podcast version of the talk I gave for the Institute of Welsh Afairs yesterday. It was great to see so many people attend, but for those who missed it, this gives a snapshot of what was talked about.