Tomorrow's World: Celebrating three decades of Tomorrow's Warriors

Thirty years ago, Janine Irons and Gary Crosby co-founded Tomorrow’s Warriors to offer free training and support to young musicians who want to break into jazz. Fresh from winning the Inspiration honour at this year’s MPG Awards, Music Week finds ...

Spotlight: PPL's Peter Leathem

PPL’s 2020 income was hit by the pandemic – down 17% to £225.7 million, although that was still the third highest result on record. Here, chief exec Peter Leathem looks at long-term international growth, livestream revenues and their diversity agenda... Radio’s shown its enduring appeal during Covid – is that good for PPL members? “Music’s an incredibly important part of commercial radio, it pays for using music, it’s providing a whole range of benefits. So having a vibrant commercial radio sector as well as a vibrant BBC radio is very important. We’ve had different formats trying to launch and more syndication – it’s all extra income. Commercial radio is rolling out brands like Heart and Capital around the country, and trying to make itself sustainable with greater competition from streaming services. And what they’ve done very well is monetise their listeners.”  PPL’s global income last year was still strong – how did you achieve that? “We’ve got an increasing global market, which is good. There are more countries coming online and getting rights, so that grows the pie. You’ve also got countries getting better at monetising their rights, and there’s a lot more data sharing, all of which helps [collective management organisations] become more efficient and accurate. And accuracy helps UK performers and record companies, because UK music is so popular around the world – more accuracy means more money coming back to the UK.”  And you also sign lots of acts for neighbouring rights, such as Rita Ora, George Ezra and Blossoms... “We are signing new artists on a monthly basis. They’re coming across from other competitors. We really only lose one or two key artists a year to someone else. Somewhere between a third and a half of all performer money moving around CMOs in the world comes to performers that we represent – it’s an enormous amount of money.” Is neighbouring rights revenue set to peak?  “The overall growth of that market is going to continue for some time to come. I’m not sure the number of entrants into the market is sustainable. You’ve got a lot of companies trying to diversify what they do, so everyone’s trying to have a go at neighbouring rights at the moment. I imagine there will be [further] consolidation in the future now that Kobalt [Neighbouring Rights] has been bought by Sony Music.” Can PPL secure income from livestreams?  “We’re currently speaking to the rights owners, because there are going to be rights that need to be licensed. We’re slightly different to PRS [for songwriters and publishers], as the record companies are quite often keen to do direct licensing. The more pressing issue has been the live side, hence PRS having to do livestream licensing ahead of us. But there is recorded music in livestreaming as well, such as DJ sets, so we do need to get that covered off.” What is PPL doing to drive diversity?  “It’s been the most important matter we’ve been handling over the last year, as well as trying to get through a pandemic. We’ve signed up to various pledges with the Black Music Coalition and UK Music. We recognised that we were not a diverse enough board, so since last summer we’ve had five new appointments. That’s an ongoing process. We’ve also been trying to support a whole range of industry organisations, such as Small Green Shoots, The Cat’s Mother, Girls I Rate, Cre8ing Vision and BAPAM.” Finally, how was your experience of the DCMS Committee inquiry into streaming?  “PPL represents the major companies, the indies, the featured artists, the music producers. So what could possibly go wrong by me going and speaking on such a touchy subject! Any public appearance is always quite nerve-racking because you need to recognise that your members have got different viewpoints. As someone who’s been around for a while, I was just trying to make some observations about the overall market and what help we could bring.”

Viewpoint: Sammy Andrews on the new (super) normal

In her latest must-read Music Week column, Digital Deviate CEO Sammy Andrews guides us through the ever-changing tech world... There’s no doubt about it, the pandemic has been a real “tale of two halves” for the music industry. Some businesses have thrived, while others have been decimated. One thing is for sure though, there is some genuine opportunity emerging from the darkness and some blatant opportunism lurking in the light. No matter where you work in the music business, the pandemic has impacted your life as the world as we know it went nearly entirely digital for a bit. As we step cautiously into real life again, I hope our industry will take a moment to consider the things that we could change long-term for the better, instead of going right back to where we started. I hope the industry will fully embrace the ability to run a hybrid model for flexible working – and offer it to all. Burnout levels before Covid-19 were already high across all sectors, and the impending mental health crisis many people are predicting, amplified by the virus, is a serious issue that needs our collective attention. It’s important that we do not rush back to unhealthy habits. Understanding the need for a better work/life balance is a vital part of driving forward a healthy, happy industry (and society more widely). The past year has proved beyond a doubt that technology can make remote work a perfectly acceptable option, some or all of the time. This also opens the opportunity for businesses to embrace the incredible workforce that lives outside of the M25. My fellow Northerners will confirm what a vast array of talent exists in other regions and in a post-Covid world we must realise that you do not need to live in London to succeed in the music industry. There are so many incredible companies operating all over the UK already, but this is a real chance to shine a light on the creative industries around the country and I really hope we take it. I hope our industry will consider things we can change long-term Sammy Andrews, Deviate Digital Live shows and conferences have been transformed in the past year by technology and broadcast opportunities. It is laughable that it took a pandemic for the business at large to see the value and potential here (some of us have been running livestreams for over a decade!), and it is also utterly ridiculous that it took the outbreak to arrange formal licensing structures for such events (perhaps next time it’s worth talking to your partners though, PRS?), yet here we are and we’re presented with a real tangible opportunity to allow livestreams to play a meaningful role in all manner of events, campaigns and fanbase engagement going forward. Along with additional revenue in many forms, the accessibility of this approach is to be applauded and the innovation and pivots made by some of our most-loved events is to be admired. As some of the giants predictably swoop in like vultures to try and grab a bargain across the festival and venue circuit, I hope we will see the industry support those who survive and emerge from this crisis with a renewed sense of optimism and sense of potential around livestreaming in all its guises. Love it or hate it, social media has played a huge part in our lives and jobs during the pandemic. Some people are emerging the most unlikely of TikTok heroes (Hello, Team Sea Shanty!) and others are emerging as Twitter Listening Party warriors or Club House cohorts, as the power and potential of these platforms has never been more evident. Nor is the amount of effort that it takes to run these properly! I sincerely hope the wider business can emerge from this crisis with a better understanding of the massive amounts of work that your social teams do. The tripled output of content and concepts they have delivered during the pandemic just to keep the wheels turning, and the skill it takes to get these things right, is something that needs appreciating and rewarding. Plus, I guarantee your social teams need a holiday. One of the nicer things to come out of the last year has been high-level industry collaborations across certain sectors, leading to large amounts of money being donated and distributed to those who needed it. The freelance army that keep our businesses going was, on the whole, left with no help from the government. A heady mix of generosity, charity, collaboration and technology has helped to get these people the money they needed to survive when they were in danger of losing everything. I hope we all come out of this with a renewed sense of gratitude for the incredible people and organisations across our industry who helped so many. I also hope we can give a firm kick up the arse to any firm who ever dares to pay freelancers late again. Finally, it’s been a huge topic both before and during the pandemic but, magnified by current events, we have all been looking very closely at the streaming economy. Regular readers will know this is a topic I have discussed many, many times, so I won’t labour the point too much except to say we have a real opportunity to come out of this coronavirus crisis with a fairer, more efficient streaming system that works for all. Whether that means looking at fairer splits, stream rates, new payment models, equitable remuneration or subscription rates, all stakeholders must take heed of the arguments raised by all sides of the argument and find ways where we can truly work together to achieve real, transformative change. Enough kicking each other in public, let’s come out of this crisis as a better, healthier, stronger industry. 

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