- 14 Oct 20
In response to the lack of support for musicians and the arts in general from the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the insulting comments made by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, UB40 have decided to offer struggling up and coming musicians a chance to feature on the bands app and social media. Selected artists will also be offered studio recording time courtesy of the band.
Leading lights of UK reggae UB40 have announced a major initiative to help young artists and bands struggling as a result of Covid-19.
The move comes in the wake of statements made by the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak that musicians and creatives should retrain for alternative careers. Angered by what is a condescending dismissal of the arts, and of music in particular, UB40 have denounced Sumak's rhetoric on the arts being an unviable career. Instead, they have offered their hugely successful App as a platform for new artists to play their music, as well as a chance of winning some studio time.
The band, who have had dozens of hit records, have always supported up-and-coming talent – and they emphasised in a statement today that they see it as more important to do so now than ever, with an industry which contributes billions to the economy being left as one of the worst affected sector in the UK, as a result of COVID-19.
"Musicians and bands are invited to submit their music to UB40,” the statement explained, "for the opportunity to be a guest on UB40’s live UBZoomy Sessions, broadcast on the band’s social networks and the UB40 App on Sunday’s at 7pm. Guests will be hand-picked by the band based on submissions of their music and they will be invited to play their music to the band and fans and discuss it, a gesture the band hope will not only allow new and emerging talent to get their music heard by music fans around the world, but also encourage artists to not give up at a time when thousands are fearing for their jobs in the Arts. They will also pick one artist or band from the sessions and will be inviting them for a recording session, courtesy of UB40."
Since the release of their debut album, Signing Off – which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – UB40 have passionately fought to highlight social injustice in all its forms, breaking down social barriers and keeping closely connected to their fans.
The launch of their ground-breaking App has seen them become welcome guests in the homes of their ardent fans around the world, now able to share more of their music than ever before. Recent comments from the UK Government, which have done nothing to ease the minds of concerned musicians and artists across the nation, have galvanised the band even more and they have now offered new artists the opportunity to play their music on their App platform.
“In the wake of the headline of how 1/3 of musicians are considering giving up the profession,” UB40 founding member Robin Campbell said, "we thought one of the ways we could offer our support is through our new UB40 App, especially in the current lockdown situation of bands having nowhere to play, to use it as a platform for new or up-and-coming artists introducing them to a new audience on our weekly zoom sessions and in the future perhaps with streamed performances. We don’t think this is going to change the world, but we just feel with the current state of our industry, we have to be pro-active and we think it’s the least we can try to do for an industry which has given us so much”
The band are unflinching in their criticism of the government headed by the hapless and far too often embarrassing Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“One thing we KNOW about the Tories,” the band’s drummer Jimmy Brown added, "they have no understanding of what makes the cultural life of the country significant. The music industry contributes £5.2 billion to the nations GDP. That’s a lot of economic activity and it represents more than just inflated salaries for the stars. It’s about crews who build stages, PA’s and lighting rigs. It’s about security staff: production managers, venue staff, ordinary workers who rely on the music business to pay their bills and look after their families.
All these people have been abandoned by this government. People who have paid their taxes and contributed to society, who now need help are just being ignored”.
Created in partnership between the band themselves and development company, Gigrev, the App has been designed as a place where the band can communicate with fans and post exclusive content for subscribers without many of the filters put in place by social media platforms in recent years. Now able to access never-before-released music, merchandise, regular livestreams with conversations with the band, it is constructed to bring one of Britain’s most well-loved bands closer to its fans than ever.