James Bond composer David Arnold says music industry on ‘precipice’

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Award-winning composer David Arnold has warned of a looming “disaster” in the music industry

A leading composer, who worked on five Bond films, has spoken of his concerns for the future of the music industry after the coronavirus lockdown.

David Arnold, who composed the music for Casino Royale and Independence Day, said the industry was “on a precipice”.

“If there’s no way of having a communal experience of live music I think that’s going to be a disaster,” said Arnold.

The government said it had invested £1.57bn in a grant scheme for music venues and organisations.

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David Arnold has also worked with comedians David Walliams and Matt Lucas

Arnold said many musicians were earning most from live concerts, but these had been cancelled due to the lockdown.

“I also think the manner by which music is distributed through streaming services is inequitable,” he said.

Many musicians have criticised payments offered by services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, which can be as little as $0.003 per stream, but streaming is increasing in popularity with the public.

‘Waste of potential’

Arnold, who co-wrote the music for BBC drama Sherlock and was musical director for the 2012 Olympics, added: “I think we are on a bit of a precipice. It’s almost impossible as a musician to make money. Some will, but an awful lot won’t.”

Arnold, who grew up in Luton, said the country runs the risk of having “a pool of musicians from people who can afford to do it from a moneyed background… a terrible waste of potential”.

He praised the schools he went to – Beechwood Primary and Challneys Boys’ School – for inspiring him to play music.

“Both of those schools were remarkable in that they had incredibly enthusiastic and brilliant music teachers,” he said, adding he was “pretty convinced” they inspired him to become a composer.

“I wondered why a grown up should have been so excited about music. I thought there must be something in it,” he said.

Novelist and comic book writer Neil Gaiman, who worked with Arnold on Good Omens, also told the BBC: “My biggest fear for lockdown is that the communal experience of going to see somebody play is not going to be there any more.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said government measures to support the music industry included “£3.36m for 135 venues across England at risk of collapse from the coronavirus pandemic” and “grants and loans from our unprecedented £1.57bn cultural recovery fund”.

“Socially distanced indoor performances can now take place and we encourage people to support our wonderful music venues that are opening up by booking tickets and visiting them once again,” he said.

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