A WHO'S Who of Scottish popular culture from Wet Wet Wet and The Proclaimers to Biffy Clyro and Simple Minds have come together to appeal to the Scottish Government to give vital support to save the music industry.

A letter signed by a host of artists, festivals, record labels, and booking agencies sent to the Scottish Government is warning that the music industry risks devastation without intervention.

Welcoming the recent announcements of a £97 million investment for cultural, arts and heritage institutions as well as the Scottish Government’s £10 million package for performing arts venues, the newly formed Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce has now called on the Scottish Government to ensure the industry is given the essential support it "desperately needs to survive".

Writing to Fiona Hyslop, the the cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture, the taskforce letter was signed by a host of the biggest names in Scottish music including Primal Scream, Texas, Deacon Blue, Del Amitri, Eddi Reader, Kathryn Joseph, KT Tunstall, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub and The Twilight Sad.

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It said that the first task force meeting found a series of serious issues, saying Scottish music businesses are still "falling through the gaps" of existing UK and Scottish Government schemes. 

"These businesses encompass the most experienced in our industry and are at imminent risk of closure or at least will need to let experienced staff go. This risks the loss of critical infrastructure, knowledge and skills which will significantly limit our ability to recover and continue to provide career development pathways for Scottish artists," said the taskforce letter.

"Funding schemes administered by Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise do not prioritise the activities of the Scottish commercial music sector. 

"While the commercial music sector has never collectively asked for support, the list of signatories to this letter evidences the sector forms a critical part of our cultural infrastructure offering resilience, contributing towards local economies and cultural tourism which in turn benefits the wider Scottish economy."

It urged the Scottish Government to establish a culture & creative industries infrastructure fund with the £97M from the UK Government and ensure Scottish commercial music businesses can access this to support survival and promote recovery.

It called on ministers to consult and work in partnership with them to ensure support for arts and culture "takes into account the needs of the commercial music sector including how funding being made available is administered".
It also wanted "a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing".

The letter concluded: "We recognise and welcome the additional targeted measures that the Scottish Government has taken to address gaps in UK schemes to protect Scotland’s arts and culture sector.

"However, the Scottish commercial music industry has unique needs and operates within different parameters from the not for profit / subsidised sector and we urge you to address these as a matter of priority and before it is too late."

The Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce was formed out of what was described as a "lack of concern that there is a lack of support or understanding" of the sector’s need.

Identifying urgent issues for the sector within the current environment, the taskforce encompasses all sub-sectors of the Scottish music industry, from artists, agents and managers, promoters and festivals, music venues and production companies.
The taskforce said it recognises a vast amount of businesses are in "immediate jeopardy", and without these essential operators, the country’s music industry risks "devastation".

Founding members of the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce include DF Concerts, Regular Music, Active Events, Craft Management, A Modern Way Management, Ironworks Venue, Asgard, ATC Live, Sneaky Petes and Fly Events. The Taskforce also includes the Scottish Music Industry Association and has its full support.

Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland said: "We welcome this new £10m from the Scottish Government which will provide a critical injection of cash to help meet the immediate needs of Performing Arts venues in Scotland which have been so badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.   

"It is significant, welcome and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to culture but we also recognise that organisations and individuals working across the wider cultural sector are facing extremely challenging circumstances which, in some cases, threaten their long-term viability.

"We're therefore continuing to work closely with both the Scottish Government and other partners to explore every possible avenue for further support."