Sharron Elkabas, co-director of international music management and talent booking agency MN2S, has spoken exclusively to API about the ongoing challenges faced by emerging artists in the UK.
Elkabas, who founded the company in 1995, believes supporting up-and-coming musicians is too far down the priority list of the current UK government – particularly those looking to make it abroad – despite funds generated by the music industry remaining a major boost for the economy every year.
"I can't really see the UK government promoting UK talent overseas," says Elkabas. "It's disappointing looking at the cuts that continue to go on – the Arts Council was cut by 30 per cent last year and more recently, with the the English baccalaureate, there's no arts in the curriculum whatsoever, which has created a bit of a backlash.
"We need to provide more music production facilities for kids – training on software and hardware – and we need to see more investment at roots level.
"It's strange how the government is sidelining creativity when there are 145,000 people in the UK employed in the music industry and, according to PRS figures, the music industry is worth £3.4 billion to the economy. It all seems a bit puzzling, as the government has a huge responsibility to provide an environment where the industry can flourish."
According to Elkabas, the UK's decision makers should be following the example set by the Dutch government, which has funded artists going abroad for festivals and other live events – with positive results.
"What the Dutch government did was fund the promotion of Dutch artists overseas, and worked with them to book a tent at Creamfields for three years running, which was called 'Go Dutch'," he explains. "They knew they were on to something with Dutch DJs and wanted to help get them out there, so they paid for the privilege of having a 'Go Dutch' tent.
"Two of the Dutch DJs out there were virtually unknown, but now they're two of the biggest DJs out there – Afrojack and Bingo Players."
More support for enthusiastic young musicians in poorer communities, where music has proved to be a solution to various problems in the past, would also be a smart move, Elkabas believes.
"You've only got to look at the success of some grime artists from London and how music has invigorated and improved their lives," he comments. "Urban culture is rife in our cities and music is a really positive asset for underprivileged children out there. The likes of Dizzee Rascal, Professor Green and Wiley all come from that background and when you look at the success they'e had, it's inspiring for sure."
Eradicating illegal downloading once and for all is another approach that would lead to a healthier industry, the MN2S founder says. "The Digital Music Copyright Act was a good step forward, but there's still a lot to be done. Ofcom has recently proposed a three-strike draft code for illegal downloaders but they had hugely underestimated how much it would cost to implement it," reveals Elkabas.
"Google pledged to downgrade the result for illegal downloading sites but that hasn't successfully been implemented. We're moving in the right direction, but tougher piracy laws need to be implemented to protect the music industry as a whole."
Do you agree with Sharron Elkabas' comments? What do you think the UK government should be doing to support up-and-coming talent in the UK, or do you believe there is already enough being done? Let us know your thoughts via the Comments box.
Keep up to date with the latest developments from the world of pro audio by registering for our free daily newsletter.