Business Interviews

Q&A: Julia Payne, The Hub

By | Published on Friday 17 April 2015


In the run up to CMU Insights @ The Great Escape, CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke is talking to some of the people who will be contributing to the event this year. Today Julia Payne from The Hub, who last week launched a campaign encouraging the music community – performers, industry and fans – to start talking about what music-related issues they would like the new government to tackle. The Hub are monitoring what issues people raise, and will present the top five most voted for topics at a special #VoteForMusic keynote at The Great Escape next month.

CC: Where did the idea for #VoteForMusic come from?

JP: The idea for the campaign took shape during a ranty breakfast conversation I had with my partner a few weeks ago about most politicians not ‘getting’ the value of the cultural sector. Music generated £3.8bn for UK plc in 2014, but most politicians don’t seem to care about a sector that’s growing faster than most. I guess I’m pretty politically engaged, and so, amidst the ranting, an idea began to shape. “Wouldn’t it be great”, I thought, “to ask people what they wanted their politicians to do to support the music they love, to encourage people who love music to have a voice during the election campaign? And wouldn’t it be fascinating to see what those ‘asks’ were?” And that’s what the kernel of the idea was, and still is: to give people the chance to tell the next government, regardless of its political hue, what the ‘killer’ music industry issue is that they want them to tackle, to support the UK’s music industry.

CC: How can people get involved?
JP: It’s really easy. Right now, you can use the #VoteForMusic hashtag to vote via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, posting using either a simple message or a photo to vote. At the same time you nominate three other people to cast their #VoteForMusic, a bit like the Ice Bucket Challenge. We’re also asking music venues and shops to get involved too, by becoming a #VoteForMusic polling station and creating their own #VoteForMusic ballot box that audiences and customers can use to vote, using #VoteForMusic ballot papers. Online and ballot box votes will be accepted right up till 10pm on 7 May, when the ‘real’ election polling stations close. Anyone who wants to know how they can get involved, or who wants to help out with the campaign, can so at our online campaign HQ. We are definitely open to all offers of help – the campaign is being driven by a very small team of volunteers!

CC: What will you do with the votes?
JP: Once the polls have closed on Election Day, we’ll finish counting all the votes cast online and via ballot boxes. Results of the #VoteForMusic campaign will be announced at a special #VoteForMusic session at The Great Escape on 15 May, and we’ll then host a follow up #VoteForMusic debate at our One Dayer event on 1 July, featuring senior politicians going head-to-head on the key issues raised by the campaign.

CC: The music industry’s various trade bodies routinely talk to government and parliament, why do you think it’s important that the wider music community engages from time to time?

JP: I think it’s great that we have those trade bodies, and that they have channels through which they can talk to government and parliament, but there’s no way that they can ever represent everyone, all of the different parts of the industry; we’re just too diverse a bunch of people. And I’m not suggesting for one moment that #VoteForMusic can do that, but I do think that we need other ways that people who work in, or love, music, can come together to have a voice, people who maybe don’t belong to a membership organisation for instance, or for whom there isn’t an umbrella body. But the reason I wanted to launch #VoteForMusic now was because the election is a once every five years moment, and it seemed the right time to try to kickstart something that gives people a chance to set out their stall to a new government.

CC: What was your personal #VoteForMusic?

JP: I was originally going to vote for the next government to maintain current levels of funding for the cultural sector, but then Gavin Sharp from Band On The Wall said I should be more ambitious and ask for an increase, so that’s what it became – for the government to increase funding for culture. I’m a board member for the National Campaign For The Arts, and I think that the actor Sam West, the NCA’s Chair, had it about right in the recent Arts Index, when he said that the creation of the NHS and the Arts Council in the 1940s – a time when the UK was broke – was all down to political will. It remains so, it’s just that now most politicians don’t seem to accept that, beyond the impact it makes to our health, wellbeing and society at large, the creative sector is a net contributor to UK plc, and that it therefore makes sense to have subsidies in this industry, just as it does in any other. Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now, but you did ask!

CC: And, while not wishing to influence other voters, any proposals made so far that have stood out?
JP: Well, there are some photo votes that have really stood out because of what they looked like, but there are definitely a few issues that seem to have a bit of impetus behind them – lots to do with money, lots about supporting small scale venues, and also a good number asking for more support for music in the curriculum.

The #VoteForMusic keynote is part of the CMU Insights programme at The Great Escape this year – more details on it all here.