MIA chief Paul McManus muses on the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2012.
There is no getting away from it, 2011 was a bitch on the High Street. It was tough enough for shops selling essential items such as food and clothing, let alone for our music shops selling so-called discretionary items such as musical instruments and associated products.
We sadly lost some of our shops during the year and we are likely to lose more as long as consumers are curtailing their spending.
John Booth of Roland recently said that one of the most important things we need to do is to stop reading the papers - bad news sells newspapers. Damn right. As an industry, we have customers that are being encouraged not to spend money, by default, from reading the press and we have to find better ways to directly inspire them to get back into the UK’s music shops.
So, here are a few issues that the MIA will be working on in 2012.
Learn to Play Day
On March 31st under the umbrella of our own charity, Music for All, music shops will open their doors and offer the public free music lessons to try and encourage some of the 15 million people who want to play, but don’t.
Music in the National Curriculum
We have lobbied hard on the critical importance of children continuing to have a statutory right to learn a musical instrument at school. We were naturally delighted with the recommendations that supported this that were published just before Christmas. Our partnerships with key bodies such as NAME, ISM and FMS are essential in all of this.
The New Music Hubs
This year will be one of huge transition as the existing Local Authority Music Services evolve into the new Music Hubs that will become the providers of the majority of the music services, both inside and outside of schools.
Quality Instruments for Education
The MIA is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure that best value for money is achieved in the purchasing of musical instruments. This, critically, involves guidance on the money being spent on a quality musical instrument.
Live Music Bill
The lobbying partnership of so many industry and educational bodies (MU, ISM, MIA, UK Music etc etc) has very nearly given us the breakthrough that we all want to help smaller venues to be able to avoid the onerous beaurocracy that prevents many of them from putting on live music.
There are many other pressing matters that will consume the MIA this year including our continued work to secure government grants in order to help our members to be able to exhibit at the major overseas trade shows.
Working with our members and industry partners to support key music events such as the Next Brit Thing. Our new training scheme for shops all designed to increase sales.
Our close monitoring of US and EU law in relation to the sourcing of the woods that make our musical instruments.
This is a year for actions and not words and we are all getting a lot more done by working in partnerships with our fellow associations, institutions and bodies across the music industry and music education sector. It really isn’t rocket science that when we pull together we can make great things happen.