Professor Green hits out at lack of support for music industry

Professor Green says the music industry has been treated as “unimportant” during the pandemic and he remains “apprehensive” about the return of live music.

The rapper, real name Stephen Manderson, said those working behind the scenes in the sector, such as touring crews and sound engineers, had not received adequate support.

The 37-year-old, who became a father in March, is taking part in the Virtual Big Sing 2021, a day of free live-streamed performances for pupils, broadcast from London’s famous Abbey Road Studios and hosted by celebrity vocal coach Mark De-Lisser.

The Big Feastival
Professor Green on stage (Steve Parsons/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “I am no less apprehensive than I have been ever since I saw dates in the diary because they are forever shifting. It is quite difficult.

“It is really easy to think artists are at the forefront of this and we are the ones that are suffering, but actually there are many, many parts of the machine that make what we do possible, and those people don’t have voices and they aren’t seen and they aren’t spoken about and they have not been supported throughout this entire period.

“I think it is much more important that things get back to some form of normality for them to be able to do their jobs and earn their livings, because for a long time they haven’t – and without support.

“It is almost as if it (the music industry) has been considered unimportant despite the fact we are the largest exporter of music outside of the US.

“We have a Government who won’t underwrite insurers for promoters, so it puts people in a completely impossible place.”

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Professor Green questioned how promoters could organise live events without Government-backed coronavirus cancellation insurance.

He added: “You look at all the small venues we have lost. Yes, there has been money given to the arts. We all know where it has gone – to places which have very high ticket prices and generally theatres, not music venues. Without small venues, where do small artists start?”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “Our support for the music industry throughout the pandemic has been unwavering, with over £200 million allocated to over 800 organisations via our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, and more support is on the way.

“We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity cover and are exploring what further support may be required when the sector is able to reopen.”

Hackney-born Professor Green will perform alongside JLS star Aston Merrygold, Clean Bandit singer Kirsten Joy, viral sea shanty star Nathan Evans and more during the Virtual Big Sing, which hopes to attract more than 500,000 children.

Peter Rabbit 2 screening – London
Aston Merrygold (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said of the event: “It is really important to engage with young people who may want to take a similar path to what I have – later on in life, not the one I did when I was a kid.

“And also I think music is incredibly important and it has been missing, largely.

“None of us as artists have been able to perform. Kids have not been in school. They have been learning from home, which for a lot of people has probably been hindering their progress.

“If they were learning instruments, not every child has access to instruments or to musical training at home.

“I think it is important to engage people with music to remind them of their passion.

“And selfishly it is a chance for me to perform because I haven’t had a chance to do that whatsoever in the last 18 months.”

The Virtual Big Sing 2021 takes place on July 1 and schools can sign up online.