The British music industry has warned that a decline in school music teaching is jeopardising the chances of the country producing successors to pop stars Adele and Ed Sheeran.
The UK is a music powerhouse, with exports of £2.5bn last year. Mr Sheeran, the Suffolk singer-songwriter, also had the world’s biggest-selling album.
However, UK Music, an industry lobby, said that new acts were increasingly dependent on private school teaching and funding from their parents, “putting our talent pipeline and the future success of our industry at risk”.
It also raised concern that the UK’s live music scene was now increasingly skewed towards older artists. On average, headline acts at festivals such as Glastonbury released their debut album 16 years ago, compared with seven years ago in the mid-1990s.
The number of students taking the GCSE music exam fell 7 per cent last year, and 8 per cent the year before. Budget cuts have been blamed for state schools reducing music tuition.
“Unless this decline is reversed, the talent pipeline that we hope will produce the next generation of stars to follow Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy will suffer a major blow,” said UK Music, in a report timed to coincide with the Liberal Democrat annual conference in Brighton. “Cultural subjects like music must not be allowed to be squeezed out of our state schools.”
The lobby group said that a £98m government programme for talented music, drama and dance pupils was likely to “benefit those who have already been identified as exceptionally gifted”.
It called for support for people regardless of backgrounds. It also said there should be a review of business rates to help recording studios, and more liberal licensing laws, to help live music venues. In London, the mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced an “agent of change” rule, which aims to put the burden on developers to stop venues from disturbing residents.
MPs are investigating the activities of ticket-reselling websites and their potential negative impact on musicians. Ticketmaster announced the closure of its resale sites, Seatwave and GetMeIn, last month, following accusations that the sites were abused by touts. However, other sites including Viagogo continue to operate.