National Structures, Global Frameworks

In one of the first examinations of how nations deal with popular music in policy terms, Cloonan (2007) articulates a gradual shift from “benign” to “promotional” policies in the United Kingdom. For Britain, a series of business/industry initiatives was favoured over the “soft” instruments of (for example) content quotas and tax breaks. While the UK music sector had succeeded in achieving support, both governments and industries had found agreement in pursuing copyright reform and business support, while ignoring the cultural possibilities for policy, and the different policy agendas amongst very different bodies and practices (Cloonan, 2007, pp. 141-144). Cloonan was prescient in noting potential problems for the United Kingdom in dealing with the European Union, and with recently devolved states such as Scotland (ibid.).

House of Commons reports documenting trade and investment policies from 2010 to 2012 are instructive in the ways in which Feargal Sharkey, then CEO of UK Music, articulated the value of music in terms of broader economic value, and expoxt value in particular:

in certain places it is still, to quote one rather senior economist of my acquaintance, “Oh, the creative industries; that’s that fluffy stuff.” Well, in the case of the music industry, it is fluffy stuff that actually generates quite a lot of revenue and taxable income for UK pic ...

In terms of the music industry, it is true: we are internationally quite successful. However, as an industry we published a strategy outline paper for the industry almost 12 months ago and made our ambition very clear in that. We want to be number one: we want to become the number one exporter of music in the world. We are positioned to do that. To give you some specifics, PRS for Music at the minute are currently forecasting potentially 40% growth within their sector over the next five years. So we are incredibly fortunate to be blessed with all of these things. It falls back on the quality of British talent and the records and the music they create, and thank God, we have a long and fine pedigree and histoxy of producing some globally recognised, remarkable talent.

(House of Coimnons, 2011, pp. 57, 59)

Beyond reaffirming current arrangements, Sharkey took the opportunity to support further funding for United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI, their chief expox-t partner in government) and SMEs; and backed the idea of “IP attaches” to protect British copyright interests in key markets (ibid.). All music industiy representatives to the Business, Iimovation and Skills Committee stressed the need to address existing larger markets (such as the United States) as much as the lure of emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.

In New Zealand contexts, Scott (2013, p. 144) has charted “the contours of the incipient ‘after neo-liberal promotional state’ ... a state that would partner, enable and facilitate popular music-makers for existing institutions”. The goals were similar to those of the UK identified by Cloonan, with popular music policy “mobilised to address job creation and social inclusion (especially for young people), domestic industiy construction, the generation of export opportunities and the fostering of sentiments of national identity” (ibid.). Scott is deeply critical of the underlying rationale for such policies, regarding them as part of a wider turn to neo-liberal governance with an emphasis on individual mobility that should be self-actualised to engage in market solutions.

The examination of the music export sector is also relevant to recurring debates about local, national and global influences and determinations in locating cultural, economic and regulatory power across various forms of music exchanges. Company (and related technological) innovation remains concentrated within western centres of power (the US, Germany, Europe). The ubiquity of the larger western platform companies—Alphabet (Google, YouTube), Apple, Amazon, Spotify, Microsoft, Facebook—has recently been challenged by eastern companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu, who are either territorial rivals, or have engaged in strategic mergers. They share a common desire to be truly transnational, which poses renewed questions for nation-states and their treatment of music-media corporations. First, what are the short- and long-term consequences in how music-media firms are linked/backed by deeper structures of capitalism? For governments, audiences and musicians, when are the companies’ claims to “competition” valid, and when are they masquerading as monopoly power? In relation, how to reconcile the nation-state’s self-interested workings of the local, regional and cultural identity with the utopian display of pure, unfettered digital markets?

Given the number of contexts in which popular music has led new configurations of digital culture, media and financial flows, “Power as enabling and constraining is a theme that scholars of popular music often allude to, and deploy plausibly in arguments” (Negus, 2019, p. 12). In this book, we adopt a cautious “theoretical optimism” (ibid., p. 11) as to how digital flows might assist artists in the production and maintenance of their careers. At the same time, how nationstates are to deal with a rapid succession of digital music technologies is an enormously complicated question in relation to globalisation discourses. The digital cultural economy may well be at “a moment at which the Global North uses culture as a selling point for deindustrialized societies, and the Global South does so for never-industrialized ones” (Durrer et al., 2017, p. 3). Copyright is a case in point, where nations at the periphery are told to adopt the intellectual property mechanisms of established music nations (see, e.g. IFPI, 2019). The many problems related to live gig ticketing practices (Behr and Cloonan, 2020; Waterson, 2018) also present a powerful case study of transnationalism with interrelated problems: Companies with global footprints wilfully ignoring national/regional consumer laws; the same companies increasingly interwoven deeply into the ownership of venue, recording and promotional structures; and as a new site of struggle between artist, audience and company rights.

Assessing the complex contexts of European cultural policy, Littoz-Monnet (2007, pp. 23-29) discerns three policy models:

  • Liberal'. At “arm’s length”, “coupled with low levels of state financial involvement”;
  • Dirigiste: “Strong public intervention”; often marked by public subsidies where appropriate;

• Federal: “Subsidiarity governs”, with municipal/regional governance empowered in cultural affairs/policy.

This model is useful in tracing export policy shifts. In our case study nations (explored in Chapter 6), governments can be seen to have moved from relatively low levels of involvement in export activity to rising levels of subsidy through a range of schemes for internal growth and outward promotion. In some cases, this has been matched by growing networks of assistance at state/regional levels, funnelling upward into national programmes. Yet exports remain one of the few areas within popular music policy where naked appeals to rampant commercialism can hold sway. We explore the ways in which the state and industries have agreed that significant commercial returns can be achieved. Increasing forms of culture-business symbiosis have occurred for two central reasons. Firstly, both industries and governments have sought a better understanding of the sector through increased reportage of economic performance, and how and where exports can better fit within local ecosystems. Secondly, in relation, national industries have been convincing in broader arguments to states that increased export funding is an investment in future returns, rather than a continuance of older subsidy models. In UK contexts, its Music Expoxt Growth Scheme is “not a cultural fund, we’re not an arts fund, we are a business fund” (Chris Tamms cited in Malt, 2017), also evident in the comments of Feargal Sharkey cited above. In Chapters 5 and 6, we examine the ways in which nations are deploying mixtures of dirigiste and federal policies that are as much about broadening the knowledge base of industrial expertise as direct promotional work.

We also need to recognise particular national histories and circumstances of policy models. Within western nations, for example, the US remains an outlier in terms of a coordinated creative and cultural industries policy as recognised by European countries. While retaining a forceful presence in intellectual property and cultural trade frameworks, “the bulk of policy initiatives are highly localised and sub-national in focus, as seen with the rise of the creative cities movement” (Flew, 2012, p. 33). In contrast, “Asian approaches ... strongly emphasise the role of national socio-cultural and political circumstances, but still identify opportunities for export growth and successful branding of global-city regions ... and the dominance of ICT sectors in driving economic growth” (ibid.). Other key regions—South America, South Africa, the Caribbean—have focused on “cultural heritage maintenance, poverty alleviation and provision of basic infrastrucmre” (ibid., p. 34). De Beukelaer and Spence (2018, p. 21) flag important discursive tropes in evaluating different national/regional approaches where “developing” music economies such as Africa’s have “potential”, with the implication that it has never been realised. The authors caution that “cultural economy” considerations too often minimise or erase public/private tensions, and wider issues of diversity, ownership, sustainability and inclusion.

In some respects, De Beukelaer and Spence’s work provides an update of Malm and Wallis’s (1992) examinations of national/regional frameworks. In focusing upon “smaller” nations' music and media policies, Malm and Wallis were equally interested in how media technologies and localised ideas of culture played out within rapidly changing global platforms (Malm and Wallis, 1992, pp. 3-4). Their work is also a stubborn call to examine the workings of the nation-state that retain the ability to shape the broadcasting, live performance and educational contexts of music-making. As Cloonan (1999, p. 204) has noted:

the desire to express allegiance to domestic products and artists is not necessarily a reactionary one. To admit that some forms of popular music need Nation- State assistance can be to defy the market rather than to promote xenophobia.

We find Freedman's (2008, pp. 13-14) distinctions between policy (goals and intentions), regulation (operational instruments and agencies) and governance (institutions and instruments shaping industry systems) to be useful. While Freedman’s model was developed in the context of the media industries, it can equally be applied in properly accounting for the full range of activities, responsibilities and actors in complex supra-national frameworks evident in the music industries. This book also investigates how popular music might be a rich area to reflect changes in the types of policy produced, not only to confront digital cultures and economies, but in how the national is portrayed and configured within such global frameworks. This includes asking (again) much older questions about relationships between cultural practices and industries and the nationstate: Should the public purse support the cultural/creative industries (and if so, by how much); what are the correct relationships to be had between industries and government; and how to locate the “public interest” in increasing marriages between the cultural/creative industries and public sectors? In the contexts of our national case studies, arts/culture budgets have been subjected to renewed pressures where “value for money” discourses are always implicit within media and government, accompanied by calls for clear measurement of the results of public culture funding.

Partly in response, it is thus no accident that many nations have rebranded their arts/culnire ministries as “creative” (e.g. Creative Scotland; Creative New Zealand; Creative Ireland). This not only signifies that "creativity” (no matter how differently it might be defined in each national context) lies at the heart of public funding, but that the nation-state itself is engaging in more innovative arrangements about how "the creatives” might be unleashed. In relation to considerations of national systems of entrepreneurship, we suggest that entrepreneurial nation might be useful to describe the range of ways in which nation-states are engaging with other actors and sectors to achieve cultural and economic returns. In relation, combinations of “political entrepreneurs” (either politicians or public servants) can provide:

innovative approaches [that] encourages entrepreneurship/business and where the goals are growth, employment and the common good ... to open up windows of opportunity in new sets of formal and informal institutions.

(Silander, 2016, p. 18)

In later chapters, we examine some of the ways that the music export field comes to be simultaneously defined as cultural and entrepreneurial; and the increasing willingness of governments and industries to re-define where entrepreneurship is located and supported.

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