With the finish line in sight and Christmas looming, I wanted to send a quick note of thanks for your ongoing support of the MMF and update on some of our plans for 2023.
It seems incredible that this time last year our lives were still being subdued by the pandemic and concerns about the Omnicron variant. Thankfully, 2022 finally saw a return to live events, although, as I reiterated in a recent piece for IQ, we are fully aware of members’ concerns around the challenges faced by touring artists, and especially as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
Under the umbrella of LIVE, the MMF lobbies the Government for a VAT reduction on ticket sales, and a comprehensive cultural touring agreement in Europe. The lack of a joined-up music export strategy has been hugely problematic for UK artists, although, promisingly, the Labour Party has recently made a commitment to flexible mobility arrangements for musicians a part of their post-Brexit policy strategy.
Elsewhere, our work has been dominated by a range of issues, including proactive reports to address digital burnout and bullying and harassment (ref. our Code of Practice), and, of course, the ongoing push for resolutions around the economics of streaming. I outlined the MMF’s position in this recent Radio 4 interview, but all discussions are now centred at the Intellectual Property Office where negotiations are reaching an end stage on metadata and transparency, although much work remains on the key issue of artist remuneration.
On Transparency and Data, the ambition is to have a pan-industry code of conduct adopted in 2023. The creative community (through the Council of Music Makers) is united in our approach, striving for pragmatic solutions and ensuring that reforms cover all aspects of the market – including the unique challenges for songwriters and composers outlined in the MMF’s Song Manifesto. There does appear to be a willingness for consensus on metadata standards, while some indie labels are evidently happy to join the likes of Beggars in supporting a minimum royalty rate and disregarding ‘pre-digital’ unrecouped balances. However, if agreement cannot be reached, particularly on the critical issue of artist remuneration, there will be increased pressure on the Government to find legislative solutions. Talk can only continue for so long, and the clock is ticking.
More broadly, I’m also incredibly proud of what the team has achieved in a year where we published a book (available now, and a perfect Christmas present!), co-hosted another enormously successful Artist & Manager Awards, sold out a one-day Managers Summit where expert presenters explored the metaverse, NFTs and the next wave of tech innovation, and celebrated the MMF’s 10th anniversary with an AGM keynote from Post Malone’s manager Dre London. We also continue to build Associate partnerships with the most relevant music and technology businesses, providing managers with a direct line of contact to the services and companies they need most.
Our Accelerator Programme goes from strength to strength. With the steadfast support of YouTube Music over five years, more than 100 talented independent managers will have benefitted from this groundbreaking combination of grants and training.
Perhaps most exciting of all is the MMF’s successful application to become one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations. Given that we now represent 1,300 members – from student Trailblazers to Custodians with decades of experience – this considerable investment will allow us to deliver a far more comprehensive level of professional development training to the full diversity of our community.
It’s a real landmark moment from MMF, and recognition of the increasingly pivotal role that all of you play in supporting and developing the careers of artists and other creative talent.
Lastly, I’d like to do a final call for expressions of interest for our first ever MMF ‘advanced’ managers retreat in Spring 2023 and also flag our upcoming events including – SXSW Sydney briefing on 10th Jan, MMF North West Managers Meetup in Manchester on 19th Jan and an MMF Funding workshop on 24th Jan. Please keep an eye on your weekly newsletter for sign up links. If you’re not that into email join the MMF event alert WhatsApp group and to connect with the community join the FB Members only Forum. We also have more training coming up including the Digital Marketing for Music Managers online course which members can access until the 2nd Feb, the Essentials of Music Management in person training on 16th February, and the Mechanics of Music Management online training which will take place on Tuesday evenings across 6 weeks starting from 28th March.
As always if you’re planning on going to SXSW (Austin) in March let us know. We’re partnering with the British Music Embassy and will have a couple of the team on the ground to support managers in town as well as hosting our international managers brunch on Thursday morning.
On that positive note, I’d like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year at one of our member events in person or online.