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The Great Get Together shows we have more in common than divides us

The Great Get Together are events and street parties happening up and down the country this weekend which aim to bring people and communities together to celebrate all that we have in common.

These community events are inspired by a former parliamentary colleague of mine, Jo Cox, who was killed on June 16 last year. Jo always believed "we have far more in common than that which divides us" - something I thoroughly agree with.

There are some fantastic Great Get Together events happening in Cardiff including some in Cardiff West. This event
here in Canton is being run by local businesses including St. Canna's Ale House, The Apothecary, Cardiff, Crafty Devil Brewing, Venn School of Sewing, Cherrybomb Tattoo Studio, Peartree Languages, Calabrisella Cardiff, Fair Do's/Siopa Teg CIC and The Canton.

I will be attending, so why not come along? Get together, have some fun and show we have more in common than divides us!

Giving artists their fair share for streaming: we can work it out

When you listen to a song on Spotify, how much money is paid and to whom is it paid? Don’t know? Odds are, the artists and songwriters don’t know either.

Music streaming services have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine life without them. However, streaming is still a relatively new technology, and the music industry is often slow to adjust to technological change.

When music was mostly bought on vinyl, cassette, and CD and there was an HMV on every high street, music contracts were purpose built. A chunk of money went to the shop for its overheads and profits, then a variable percentage was taken by the record company to cover distribution, packaging, breakage, and marketing costs, profits et cetera. A small percentage of the remainder then went to the artist, to the music publisher, and the composers based on contract. Plenty of music is still purchased in this way, and Record Store Day is a great reminder that the industry is going from strength to strength.

When music is downloaded or streamed the costs mentioned above are much lower - sharing a sound file costs the record company considerably less than shipping CDs. However, some artists claim these fees are still being deducted from artists’ profits, although these services are often obsolete.  How can a record company claim for packaging deductions of a digital download? How is ‘breakage’ on streaming relating to minimum guarantees actually calculated? And when managers try to find out who’s getting the money, how much these deductions cost, and what services they’re being charged for, they often don’t get the answers they need.

Some say that a contract’s a contract – if it becomes outdated, that’s no one’s fault and you’re still legally bound. This is an issue of transparency. Music is one of this country’s greatest exports, and yet we are falling behind many other places in the world. How can artists and managers go on to negotiate contracts that are fit for purpose in a global streaming market without understanding the agreements they already have? They still expect a percentage - but a percentage of what?

And they do need updated contracts. When an industry changes as much and as quickly as the music industry has in recent years, the accounting model needs to change too. As if the transition from physical to digital sales wasn’t complicated enough, streaming confuses matters even further.

Streaming doesn’t fit neatly into the pre-existing boxes. You’re not buying a track to play at your leisure in perpetuity whether in physical or digital format. When you stream it’s a one-off listen like when you hear a song on the radio. But it gives the listener more control than a radio play, because they choose what to listen to and when, although they don’t own it like a CD sale or a download.

With new technologies and no precedent, the music industry urgently needs to come up with a fair model for who gets paid what for streaming. But at the moment, each deal is different, and they are often kept secret by Non-Disclosure Agreements. Without basic transparency it’s difficult to decide what fair payment for music streaming would look like. Artists can ask for an audit, but this is too expensive for all but the most successful.

For emerging artists, this confusion can be a real threat. In their eagerness to make it, new talent can be ushered into contracts that don’t give them a decent deal. This is why, just last month, the Music Managers Forum, the Musicians’ Union, and the Featured Artists Coalition published a sample management agreement for those entering the industry. This gives newer artists and managers a starting point for negotiations on what a fair contract can look like.

Both pre-digital and streaming contracts need review, so the music industry needs to have an inclusive conversation to hear from the labels and the lyricists alike. And this is where politicians come in. It may not look like it from the Punch and Judy scenes of Prime Minister’s Questions, but brokering compromise is one of Parliament’s greatest strengths. In February of this year, Labour successfully pressured the Government into facilitating a code of conduct between search engines and the music and film rights-holders to help stop online piracy. Now we’re calling on the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, to do the same for transparency within the music industry.

A good code would be in everyone’s interest, helping improve the reputation of the music industry and the finances of composers, artists, musicians.

As The Beatles might have put it, “we can work it out”.

Music tourism is vital to the Welsh economy

Cardiff West MP, Kevin Brennan, is highlighting the importance of music tourism to Wales after a new report by UK Music shows the huge amount of income it generates.

The Wish You Were Here report shows that 402,000 music tourists visited Wales in 2015 to attend a live concert or music festival. These visitors generated a staggering £113 million in total for the local economy, and helped sustain 1,595 full-time jobs across Wales.

The statistics in full show how important music tourism is to Wales

  • £113 million generated by music tourism in Wales in 2015
  • 402,000 music tourists attending music events in Wales in 2015
  • 1,595 full time jobs sustained by music tourism in 2015
  • 617,000 total attendance at music events in Cardiff in 2015
  • 293,000 music tourists generated £52 million in Cardiff last year

Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West said: "Cardiff’s contribution to music is immense. Not only has the city helped nurture the talents of Welsh bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and Stereophonics but venues like the Motorpoint Arena, St David’s Hall, Wales Millennium Centre and Millennium Stadium play host to live music events that bring people from all over the world to the City. I welcome UK Music’s report which highlights the huge importance of music and its impact on the tourist economy in Wales."

Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central said: "Cardiff is the home to many great music venues – ranging from Clwb Ifor Bach to the Principality Stadium. I'm really pleased that our contribution to music tourism is supported in UK Music’s report. That a massive 293,000 music tourists came to our city for live events and gigs, spending £52 million is something that policy makers should acknowledge and find ways to maintain and grow."

Jo Dipple, UK Music Chief Executive said: "The appetite for live music has continued to grow. Last year overseas music tourism increased by 16%, whilst British music events were attended by a staggering 27.7 million people in 2015. What this report shows, unequivocally, is the economic value of live music to communities, cities and regions."

The Bookseller: Disappointment over 'basic' Taskforce dataset

Data about public libraries in England has been made available by the Libraries Taskforce, six months after it was originally intended for publication. However the data published is just a simple list of the names, addresses, websites and contact emails for public libraries that were open as of 1st July 2016.

Campaigners, library bodies and the shadow culture minister have all criticised it as "disappointing". Kathy Settle, c.e.o. of the Taskforce, has said that this dataset is merely the "first step" in creating a core dataset for libraries.

Kevin Brennan, shadow culture minister, told The Bookseller that the data is "extremely basic" and "very disappointing". "What we need is data that tells us what’s happening to library services in communities and whether Councils are fulfilling their statutory requirements to provide an efficient and comprehensive library service", Brennan said. "Labour is calling on the Government to release the rest of the Libraries Taskforce data, including opening and staffing hours, as soon as possible.”

BBC: Womanby Street live music venue campaign backed by MPs