Bragg, Mason, plus a member of Everything Everything, musician Nadine Shah, Labour MP Tom Watson and many more from the worlds of music and politics descended upon Westminster earlier today (January 10), gathering outside the Houses of Parliament to show support for the UK Music initiative, Agent Of Change.
Senior Labour MP John Spellar introduced a new Planning Bill in the House of Commons today in an effort to implement the Agent of Change principle into UK law.
If implemented, the principle would force developers to take account of the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses – like music venues – before going ahead with their plans.
“If you’re going to invest in an area, you got to protect the cultural assets already in that area,” Tom Watson MP reasoned, speaking to NME. “We should put the responsibility on developers to soundproof those buildings, but it needs a law change to oblige them to do that.”
Billy Bragg, meanwhile, said that the UK was “destroying our seedbed by losing our small venues”, arguing that an artist like Ed Sheeran wouldn’t have broken through if it wasn’t for small venues. He also stressed the importance of “getting people talking” about the issue.
“It’s a much tougher environment for young musicians now than in our day,” Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason added. “It’s really important to retain anything that might actually allow people to not only develop their craft but actually earn some money from it.”
Although not present at the launch, Paul McCartney has also backed the campaign, warning that “the future of music is in danger”.
“Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different,” he said. “If we don’t support music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger.”