There’s been some controversial news bopping about in the world of music these past few days. I was, as usual, battling through the Facebook forest of music pledges, newly birthed band pages, pleas from small-town garage bands promoting their new album, and of course, the odd Donald Trump patter, when I spotted it.
The UK music industry’s trade association, AKA The BPI, have named the 21 auspicious artists who will receive a cut of £250,000, dished out with the intention of helping the select few independent bands and labels with overseas promotion and touring.
Sounds pretty honourable, right? Funding the UK’s creative should be one of our priorities; this annual Music Exports Growth Scheme grant certainly does the job. Mark Garnier, International Trade Minister even said himself: “The UK music industry is hugely influential and continues to inspire millions across the world. In 2015, music contributed over £4 billion to the UK economy and five of the world’s top ten selling artists were British.”
This year’s receivers include established artists such as Everything Everything, Slaves, White Lies and Cate Le Bon. Panic not, more underground artists such as Tigercub and Flamingods are also in with a cut of the dosh, but that didn’t stop the angst-fueled tweets from taking over my feed as soon as the news was out.
Fat White Family, a band known for their unmerciful opinions and raw promotion tactics, gave one of my favourite views on the situation, regarding Slaves being chosen as one of the artists to receive some of the £250,000:
2.5k people clap in the distance after reading this Facebook post, as indeed, they have a point. Now I’ve seen some people directing their irritation into Slave’s path, but let’s be honest, no band would turn that money down, right? Slaves are a band I’ve always respected and still do, but as Fat White Family mentioned in their rant, the two-piece have been on Virgin/EMI for three years now, and that itself is every smaller bands’ dream, I can’t imagine Slaves ever struggling to grab gigs around Europe.
At first glance, this grant is the epitome of “support your music scene”, but the reality is that a handful of the selected bands are doing just fine with their labels and promotion. Down a small street in Stoke-On-Trent there’s probably a group of passionate, Robert Smith-influenced, leather jacket wearing pre-pubescent teens banging out rhythms on their drum kit, irritating their neighbors and singing songs about high school love and they need our support. The day we stop taking interest into these kind of bands will be the day our glorious, ever-changing, notorious music scene will come to a halt. We will be stuck with only the latest NME playlist on repeat and the neighbors will finally be at peace.
In other words, this Music Exports Growth Scheme grant could really, really get our music bones tingling again, if they start to dig deeper for those bands who are tired of paying Facebook for advertisements, and have what it takes to be the next big thing, with drive, edge and a bit of cash.
Words by Ruby Munslow