Biffy Clyro, Mogwai, Primal Scream and The View lead campaign to bring Scottish music industry back from brink

Some of the biggest names in Scottish music are demanding that the industry gets a fair deal from new public funding rescue packages for the arts.

Scotland's live music scene is said to be more more than 430 million to the economy. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

Biffy Clyro, Deacon Blue, Del Amitri, Eddi Reader, Kathryn Joseph, KT Tunstall, Mogwai, Primal Scream, Simple Minds, Teenage Fanclub, Texas, The View, The Proclaimers and The Twilight Sad are backing a campaign to help save venues, events and industry companies from collapsing.

It has been launched by a new industry taskforce said to have been created “out of concern that there is a lack of support or understanding” of the crisis in the commercial music industry.

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It fears that the live music is at risk of being left behind at a time when businesses in the sector “are on their knees through no fault of their own.”

The campaign has been launched days after the Scottish Government announced a 10 million “lifeline fund” for performing arts venues, but said it was still considering support for the grassroots music industry. Scotland is also expected to get a 97 million share of a 1.57 billion rescue package for the UK-wide arts sector, which was unveiled on Sunday.

Other acts involved in the campaign include Fatherson, Honeyblood, Idlewild, Julie Fowlis, Simple Minds, Wet Wet Wet and Glasvegas.

Promoters DF Concerts and Regular Music, venues like the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow and the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh, and festivals like TRNSMT in Glasgow, HebCelt in Stornoway and Belladrum in the Highlands are also involved.

The new Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce is also highlighting concerns about a lack of consultation with the sector on the impact of the pandemic and the need for a “clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing.”

An open letter to Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop published today by the taskforce states: “We recognise and welcome the additional targeted measures that the Scottish Government has taken to address gaps in UK schemes to protect Scotland’s arts and culture sector.

“However, the Scottish commercial music industry has unique needs and operates within different parameters from the not for profit / subsidised sector and we urge you to address these as a matter of priority and before it is too late.

“Scottish music businesses are still falling through the gaps of existing UK and Scottish Government schemes. These businesses encompass the most experienced in our industry and are at imminent risk of closure or at least will need to let experienced staff go.

“This risks the loss of critical infrastructure, knowledge and skills which will significantly limit our ability to recover and continue to provide career development pathways for Scottish artists.

“There has been a lack of consultation with the commercial music sector on its needs. For example the announcement on Friday of a £10m rescue package for performing arts venues is very welcome but we note that it is unclear if it will benefit commercial music venues.

“Funding schemes administered by Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise do not prioritise the activities of the Scottish commercial music sector.

“While the commercial music sector has never collectively asked for support, the list of signatories to this letter evidences the sector forms a critical part of our cultural infrastructure offering resilience, contributing towards local economies and cultural tourism which in turn benefits the wider Scottish economy.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on Scotland’s music industry and we welcome the formation of this new taskforce.

“The Scottish Government and partners worked rapidly to establish significant financial support for performers and organisations affected by the crisis, which have already supported people who work in the music industry, recognising the specific challenges faced by freelance musicians and venues.

“We have been calling on the UK Government to provide further support to culture and creative industries, and we welcome the recent announcement. We are actively considering the best means to provide this additional support to organisations and individuals in Scotland.

“We are in close contact with the music industry and are working to develop clear guidance to help performances resume and venues to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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