What is evident from our research is that the “born global” concept is a great deal more complicated than some have argued, at least in the music industry. The changes in the global economy, culture and technology are complex and raise many conundrums for global music industry participants and policymakers. For example, while increased use of social media and advances in communication technologies have reduced the costs of entry into global music markets, they have paradoxically reduced the returns to the average artist and increased the importance of live music tours which are of most benefit to Epic performers. This is leading to an increased disparity between “superstars” and the rest and raises questions about equity between economic earnings of performers and government policy to develop the industry. What should be government policy for supporting artists? Focus on a small number of “winners” (as in other fields, such as athletics), which might increase incomes and recognition for the country; or provide support more widely, even for people who are unlikely to make it? While the latter would provide support to needy (and all) artists, the results might well be mixed in terms of overall export incomes.
As global Internet technology has made it easier for artists to reach a wider- global audience, economic returns are still largely concentrated in traditional developed markets, leading to increasing divergence between cultural and economic objectives. For example, economic objectives might favour targeting major markets and ignoring less profitable ones. If the objective is to promote national culture and build a national brand, then this might favour a strategy to spread music (and state assistance) as widely as possible, even in markets that are not providing financial returns. The increasing dominance of a few global corporations in music streaming, many of whom are associated with global media corporations, also raises questions about the control of media. Like other media industries such as newspapers, television and film (Compaine and Gomery, 2000), the increasing threat of monopolies raises questions about the need for national or international government regulation in the global music industry.
Coda: Exports and COVID-19
This book has been completed as the effects of a global pandemic become obvious to the creative industries, and within the live performance/music sector in particular. A range of governments, industry bodies and companies have provided significant support in attempting to lessen the individual and collective effects related to the reductions in business activity. Spotify and Live Nation are examples of larger companies with global footprints providing initial and matched donations to supporting artists and live performance crews (CMU Daily, 2020a; Malt, 2020a). Similarly, Apple Music created a S50 million advance fund for “indie” labels and distributors, with one-off advances, “recoupable out of future royalties ... available to labels and distributors that earn over $10,000 in quarterly revenue from the
Apple streaming service and which have a direct relationship with the company” (CMU Daily, 2020b).
National responses were (mostly) substantial in recognising the impacts of COVID-19 upon the creative industries. In Sweden, the Cultural Council has provided SEK 370 million, and the Artists’ Committee has distributed SEK 70 million to artists (including musicians) (Export Music Sweden, 2020). In Australia, the first three months of venue closures and social isolation were estimated to produce a reduction of $100m in revenue, with 65,000 job opportunities lost (I Lost My Gig Australia, 2020a). Beyond ensuring that artists and related workers have access to temporary welfare payments, industry bodies also called for tax relief for venues (APRA AMCOS, 2020) and a funding package of $750m to support businesses, principally those in the live music sector (I Lost My Gig, 2020b). In Germany, a Berlin initiative, United We Stream, raised over €700,000 in March 2020 for artists and nightclub workers (Barber, 2020). The German government also announced a €750 billion stimulus package, including €50 billion for the cultural, creative and media sector and freelancers, small businesses and artists; applicants are eligible for up to €15,000 in direct subsidies over a period of three months (BYP Group, 2020).
In France, the National Music Centre provided an emergency fund for the entertainment industry of €11.5 million to assist small and medium enterprises in particular, with grants capped at € 11,500, and incentives to pay artists compensation for cancelled shows (BYP Group, 2020). For Norway, the Arts Council established a NOK300 million scheme for the cultural industries to be managed by the Cultural Council, with measures targeting freelancers, self-employed people and cultural organisations. In addition, NOK30 million from the Nonvegian Cultural Fund has been provided to encourage production and dissemination, especially of digital works (ibid.). In Korea, specific support for artists has included an “Emergency Livelihood Stabilization Loan for Artists’’, a “Creative Reserve Fund Support Project” and a “COVID-19 Special Loan for Artists” (BYP Group, 2020). The Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture allocated an additional budget of W4.5 billion in order to provide emergency support for artists, companies, art educators and planners (ibid.). In the United Kingdom, calls were made for an injection of £lm as an emergency fund to prevent venue closures (Music Venue Trust, 2020a), with this achieved through donations from recording labels, digital platforms, booking agencies and the Mayor of London (Music Venue Trust, 2020b).
While many countries singled out live venues as especially worthy of immediate support, the festivals sector is a good example of the multiple challenges confronting the music industries. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in the United Kingdom has warned that at least 90% of UK festivals will not proceed in 2020, with promoters facing refunds of up to £800 million, and most of that sum not covered by insurance (Malt, 2020b). According to AIF CEO Paul Reed:
[It] is not a temporary shutdown of business, it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out. If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses that will seriously inhibit its ability to deliver events in 2021 ... There is no safety net for independent festivals, many of which have fallen between the cracks of current government support measures such as loans and grants ... For example, 0% of AIF members have been able to successfully access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme ... UK festivals are not only an intrinsic, defining part of British culture but also an economic powerhouse that generates hundreds of millions for the economy - we urge government to recognise them as such.
(cited in Malt, 2020b)
In early July 2020, the Johnson UK Government announced a €1.57b package fox- cultural organisations, including combinations of loans, grants, capital investment and other funding (Brown, 2020). At the time of writing, it was unclear about the extent of assistance to the mix of live performance organisations and venues within a package designed to cover the performing arts, heritage and other related organisations. The pandemic has reinforced the notion of artists as sole traders and SMEs, challenging some of the broader discourses of “the artist” in public and governmental circles. This has provoked wider public discussions of value of the creative industries, and the role of the music sector as distraction/entertain- ment (e.g. Langley and Coutts, 2020).
Beyond the immediate concerns of national live music sectors in crisis, the effects of COVID-19 may be more lasting in other export activities. Firstly, all export schemes and offices have investigated the means to shift traditional activities (such as song-writing camps, business meetings) online, doing their best to shift promotions online. This includes the shuttering of the global showcase circuit, with online performances a poor substitute for the hustle of the usual physical gatherings. Secondly, the decimation of national budgets wrought by the virus raises questions about the extent and willingness of states to continue traditional export funding (even as the role of domestic ecosystems of recording, live peiformance, retail and publishing has been brought into sharper focus). Thirdly, the effects of COVID-19 might enforce some of the earlier calls for a reduced exports bureaucracy, with less paperwork and digital programmes increasingly supplementing physical presences.
Indeed, the many after-shocks of COVID-19, as they continue to be felt in 2021 and beyond, could provoke at least a reduction in “born global” discourses. As national governments look to greater control of their borders (for populist economic reasons as much as health concerns), nations will inevitably fall back on domestic infrastructures. Similarly, artists, managers and labels will be confronted with the problems of 20th-century expoxt arrangements, including longer lead-in times, greater border bureaucracies, travel restrictions and an inability to bring immediacy to export arrangements. These will be interesting developments in a music sector that has grown to be an intriguing mixture of industries, states and artistic ambitions.