TODAY'S TOP STORY: Independent festivals in the UK contributed an estimated £1 billion to the UK economy between 2014 and 2017 according to new figures published by the Association Of Independent Festivals at its Festival Congress in Sheffield yesterday... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Independent festivals contributed one billion to UK economy in three years
LIVE BUSINESS Give people with long-term illnesses gig tickets, not drugs, says Health Secretary
EDUCATION & EVENTS Musicians' Union warns music education crisis is silencing all but affluent voices
RELEASES Ex-Lush, Elastica band Piroska announce debut album, tour dates
GIGS & FESTIVALS Horrors announce Primary Colours tenth anniversary show
Idles announce 2019 tour dates
ONE LINERS Danny Brown, Passenger, Chai, more
AND FINALLY... Riz Ahmed wants an Eminem diss track
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Independent festivals contributed one billion to UK economy in three years
Independent festivals in the UK contributed an estimated £1 billion to the UK economy between 2014 and 2017 according to new figures published by the Association Of Independent Festivals at its Festival Congress in Sheffield yesterday.

AIF worked with CMU Insights to crunch ten years of data from its annual audience surveys. With a combined audience of 800,000, the 65 festivals staged by AIF members last year generated more than £386 million in revenue, with nearly 10% of that spend going to businesses based around each festival's site.

The association has been surveying its members' audiences since 2009, and in that time the average spend of the average ticket-holder has risen by around a third, from £364.17 in 2009 to £483.14 in 2017. The average ticket price has risen by just 20% in that time, meaning that increased expenditure on things like accommodation, food and drink account for a bigger portion of the overall increase.

By combining AIF's figures for 2015, 2016 and 2017, the sector generated over £1 billion in revenue during that period. The association previously estimated that independent festivals contributed £1 billion to the UK economy in the four years between 2010 and 2014, meaning the sector's annual contribution is steadily increasing.

Commenting on that trend, AIF boss Paul Reed said: "That AIF member festivals have contributed another £1 billion to the UK economy - and at a much faster rate than the last billion - shows just how healthy the independent festival market is right now and how quickly it is growing".

"Not only are these independent festivals providing music fans with fantastic experiences, they are thriving businesses that the country can be proud of", he went on. "And they are helping support the many other businesses around their sites that festival-goers make use of every year".

Other findings from AIF's audience surveys were included in a report marking the tenth anniversary of the organisation. It noted that ticket-buyers rate highly the community aspect of the festival experience - ie the opportunity to hang out with friends and like-minded people - while "atmosphere, vibe, character and quality of event" were key factors when choosing which festivals to attend.

The report also confirmed that social media is now the key marketing and communication tool for festivals, with the impact of print media and billboards falling in particular in the last ten years. Crime figures have also dropped at festivals over the last decade, with the majority of festival-goers admitting that a police presence at events makes them feel safer.

Issues still to be addressed mainly relate to the environmental impact of festivals, with car travel to events on the up, and the widely reported discarded tent phenomenon still a serious problem. The latter issue sometimes occurs because festival-goers incorrectly believe that discarded tents will be redistributed to homeless people or refugees, but also because tents can be bought so cheaply from supermarkets these days, it's too easy to just leave a damp used tent behind.

The report also highlights various initiatives led by AIF over the last decade, including successful lobbying of collecting society PRS to ensure an increase in performing right royalties didn't affect festivals where music is increasingly just one part of the programme. It also discusses ongoing campaigns to cut down the use of single-use plastic on festival sites, to provide safe spaces in a bid to stop sexual harassment and violence at events, and innovative drug policies that genuinely reduce harm by allowing festival-goers to have substances tested.

Concluding, Reed said: "We are very proud to be celebrating AIF's tenth anniversary this year. Our special ten-year report is full of insightful statistics, trends and information that show how far our community has come and where we need to aim our lights on the road ahead".

You can download that ten year report here.


Give people with long-term illnesses gig tickets, not drugs, says Health Secretary
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has brought a bit of his former role as Culture Secretary with him, arguing that the NHS should prescribe gig tickets, rather than drugs, to people with long-term illnesses.

Speaking at an event for health-focused think tank the King's Fund, Hancock argued that over-prescription of drugs for ongoing conditions is unnecessarily costing the health service millions of pounds. Instead of medication, he said, providing people with access to cultural activities, such as watching live music, learning instruments themselves, or dance classes, could be just as effective.

According to the BBC, the minister said that the arts are an "indispensible tool" for doctors, adding: "Social prescription reduces over-prescription of drugs. It can lead to the same or better outcomes for patients without popping pills. And it saves the NHS money. Because many of these social cures are free. We've been fostering a culture that's popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration".

One of the long-term conditions that would benefit from this alternative style of treatment is dementia, he said. He suggested that patients could be prescribed personalised playlists of music to help them and their families manage symptoms.

There is certainly research which suggests that music can be very effective in managing dementia, due to sound's close connection to memory. And it was with that in mind that the BBC recently launched a website designed to help trigger memories in people living with dementia through listening to music.

While 'social prescribing' is not a new concept - exercise has also long been recommended to counteract some mental health issues, for example - the Alzheimer's Society told the BBC that it "cannot see music and the arts alone as some kind of silver bullet for people with dementia".

The charity's Director Of Policy, Sally Copley argued: "What we really need to see in addition to social prescribing is GPs giving people with dementia access to the right support and medication when needed and, crucially, the government ensuring adequate funding for care is addressed".

Chief exec of mental health charity Mind also said that, while prevention through getting people active is welcome, that approach requires proper investment and support, and should be seen as working alongside, rather than in place of, other treatments.

"Local services have been subject to substantial cuts over the past decade", said Mind's Paul Farmer. "This prevention strategy must be matched with long-term investment, if we want to see it become a reality and making a real difference to people's everyday lives. We want self-care techniques to be seen as complementary to, rather than as a substitute for, mental health services, such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy".

Of course, if the UK actually leaves the European Union without some kind of deal in place, causing delays at the border which could stop some key drugs from getting into the country in a timely manner, having a bit of a sing-song might be the only option. While also stockpiling drugs to avoid such a Brexit-made crisis in the short term, Hancock pledged £4.5 million of funding to 23 social prescribing projects in England in July this year.


Musicians' Union warns music education crisis is silencing all but affluent voices
The Musicians' Union has again called on the UK government to review music education in schools. This follows the publication of new research that shows that learning to play instruments is increasingly something only available to children of affluent families.

Cuts to music education in schools has been a widely discussed topic in recent years. Due to the way the government assesses schools in England, many have cut arts subjects in order to put more money into the core subjects that they are actually assessed on. This has resulted in less focus being put on music in the classroom and fewer children learning to play an instrument.

According to the new report, just 19% low income families - with a household income of less than £28,000 a year - have one or more children who plays a musical instrument. This compares to 40% in high income families - which means those earning over £48,000 a year. In middle income families, the figure is 26%.

This is not due to lack of interest, the MU says, with 53% of respondents from low income families saying that their child does not currently play an instrument but would be open to learning.

For those whose children do not currently play an instrument, when asked why, those in high income households tended to say the child was not interested or was already involved in another hobby or club. But in low income households, the two most common answers were that lessons and instruments were too expensive.

In high income families, pupils were most likely to be having private instrument lessons for which they paid full price. Children in lower income families were most likely to be learning their instrument in a normal school music lesson with other children or teaching themselves.

For those whose children were learning to play a musical instrument, almost half said that their child was more confident as a result, while improvements in concentration (42%), happiness (35%), self-discipline (30%) and patience (30%) were also reported.

Discussing the MU's stats, and why they matter, educational psychologist Hannah Abrahams said yesterday: "The power of music to young people is palpable, as access from a young age can not only positively impact a child's cognitive abilities, but their social and emotional development too".

"Parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds often have so many additional stressors that accessing music may be low down on the priority list for their child", she adds. "It is the role of government and schools to nurture and encourage children's exploration of music as a powerful learning and social tool".

Aside from the wider social impact of children from lower income families not learning to play instruments, which this research highlights, the Musicians' Union says that it also risks reducing the range of voices in the music industry.

"With certain children priced out of learning musical instruments, we may well only be hearing the songs and sounds of the affluent in years to come", says MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge. "Those from poorer backgrounds will, unfairly, be increasingly under-represented within the industry. The data released today shows the extent of the problem - and we would like to work with government to address this issue".

Read the full report here.


Approved: Kai Whiston
Following an EP on Ninja Tune's Big Dada imprint last year, titled 'Fissure Price', producer Kai Whiston is now set to release his debut album, 'Kai Whiston Bitch', through Gloo later this month. His garish, surreal sound has already picked him up plenty of fans, including Skrillex and Kanye West, and as he steps things up another gear, he's sure to gather more.

"This is the collective pursuit of every irrational primitive desire and instinct that we all face", Whiston says of the album. "'Kai Whiston Bitch' is my voice of self indulgence that develops beyond any evaluative insight, with every disregard of being civilised. A complete ephemera of shedding, estranging all polite perspectives. Being a dickhead has never felt so romantic".

The album will be released on 23 Nov. Listen to new track 'Lux' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Ex-Lush, Elastica band Piroska announce debut album, tour dates
Lead by former Lush frontwoman Miki Berenyi, with ex-members of Elastica and Modern English among their line-up, Piroshka have announced that they will released their debut album, 'Brickbat', next year.

The band emerged out of Lush's short-lived reunion in 2015 and 2016. For those reunion shows, Elastica's Justin Welch replaced drummer Chris Acland, who died in 1996. Then, when bassist Phil King quit in 2016, Modern English's Mick Conroy joined in order for the band to play one last show before splitting up again. They then completed the line-up for new outfit Piroshka with Berenyi's partner KJ 'Moose' McKillop.

Rehearsals for that final Lush show sowed the seeds of the new band, explains Welch: "We sounded great! Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again".

Conroy adds: "I'd seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available we thought, let's all have a bash, see what happens".

What's happened is that they've gone and recorded a whole album together and will tour the UK next March. There's also a show at The Lexington in London on 27 Nov, but that's already sold out.

'Brickbat' is set for release through Bella Union on 15 Feb, with first single, 'Everlastingly Yours', out now. And the tour dates are as follows:

29 Mar: Manchester, Soup Kitchen
30 Mar: Glasgow, Stereo
31 Mar: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
4 Apr: London, Oslo
5 Apr: Cambridge, Portland Arms
6 Apr: Bristol, Rough Trade


Horrors announce Primary Colours tenth anniversary show
The Horrors have announced that they will play a show at the Royal Albert Hall on 9 May next year to mark the tenth anniversary of their 'Primary Colours' album.

"'Primary Colours' was a pivotal album for us and we are excited to give it a deserved celebration as it reaches its tenth year", say the band. "We welcome with open arms our friends, fans and supporters from throughout the universe to come to the Royal Albert Hall, one of the most beautiful venues in London, to enjoy this very special evening with us".

The show will see the band play the album in its entirely, as well as throwing in a few other songs to bump up their stage time, I'd imagine. 'Primary Colours' isn't that long an album. Tickets will go on general sale via the RAH website on Friday morning.


Idles announce 2019 tour dates
Busy, busy band Idles have announced that they will head out on tour once again next spring, with a run that will include two nights at London's Electric Ballroom.

Tickets are set to go on sale at 10am on Friday morning and will only be available via the band's website.

Here are the tour dates:

26 Mar: Sheffield, The Leadmill
27 Mar: Cardiff, Tramshed
28 Mar: Norwich, UEA
29 Mar: Brighton, Dome
1 Apr: Belfast, Empire Music Hall-
2 Apr: Dublin, Vicar Street-
3 Apr: Manchester, Albert Hall
4 Apr: London, Electric Ballroom
5 Apr: London, Electric Ballroom


Danny Brown, Passenger, Chai, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Danny Brown has released documentary 'Live At The Majestic'. The film was originally created for Apple, but the company shelved it a year ago. Having reclaimed the rights, Brown has made it available to stream or download via his website.

• Passenger has released the video for new single 'He Leaves You Cold'.

• Chai have released the video for their song 'Great Job'.

• Bea1991 is back with a new track 'v4'.

• Lubomyr Melnyk has released another single from his upcoming new album 'Fallen Trees'. Here's 'Barcarolle'.

• William Tyler will release new album, 'Goes West', on 25 Jan. From it, this is 'Fail Safe'.

• Julia Kent has released new track 'Imbalance'. It's taken from her new album 'Temporal', which will be released by The Leaf Label on 25 Jan.

• Cuts has released new track 'Time Is Not Your Friend'. It's taken from his environmental-themed debut instrumental album 'A Gradual Decline', which is out on 30 Nov.

• Pion have released new single 'Deluge'. The trio are currently working on their debut album, set for release next spring.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Riz Ahmed wants an Eminem diss track
Riz Ahmed, aka Riz MC, has said that his main goal in life is to get Eminem to write a diss track about him. Unfortunately, he's got off to a bad start in his bid to generate some rage from his fellow rapper, by praising Eminem's divisive diss track heavy recent album 'Kamikaze'.

Appearing in Pitchfork's 'Over/Under' quickfire interview series, Ahmed said: "Eminem in 2018 is underrated, man. He's underrated. He's still one of the greatest of all time, you can't take that away from him. I'm glad to see him back out there just getting angry with people".

However, he continued: "My goal is for Eminem to do a diss track about me. That's when you know you're important, you've made it. So Eminem man, there's a lot of ammo here. I'm wearing a stupid hat here. You know, just get at me man".

Ahmed recently released new single 'Mogambo', on which he does get some dissing done himself. Not of Eminem though, unfortunately. Just, like, institutional racism and stuff.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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