How will rising tuition fees affect music?

Yesterday saw the biggest student protests for a generation in Britain. 50,000 people took to the streets of London to protest against tuition fees rising to as much as £9,000 a year.

The rising cost of further education in this country inevitably puts greater emphasis on students employability and earning power once their education has commenced. This opens up the age old debate of the worth of studying the arts, or so called soft subjects.

The UK has a great tradition of the art school drop out. People who might not reach the end of their tenure in higher education, but their time at university is incredibley instrumental in leading to their future cultural output.

Luminaries of this elite group include John Lennon, David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, members of The Clash and half of Blur to mention a few. Without time spent in further education, would any of these people gone on to have done any of the great things they did?

Education is meant to be about enriching society and shouldn’t always be intrinsically linked to its economic value. The people I’ve mentioned, and I’m only touching on musicians, have contributed massively to Britain’s cultural wealth. Would they have been able to make such contributions without being given the time to think a little outside the box in institutions such as Goldsmiths University or St Martin’s College?

Joe Strummer considered his time spent at art college in Newport as intrinsic to him later forming The Clash. Would he have been at art school in Newport if he’d had to pay nine grand a year for the pleasure? Probably not.

From Lennon, to Bowie to Blur, further education has been played a huge role in shaping the music to come out of Britain for decades. Without these people, not only music, but Britain in general would be a much duller place. Something the coalition should think about, before making higher education inaccessible to a host of Britain’s future cultural icons.



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What does Pulp reforming say about the state of British music?

After disappearing under the all too familiar banner of an indefinite hiatus in 2002, Pulp announced this morning details of two live shows next summer, with more certain to follow. Interest in the band seemed to have waned somewhat back then, but the tide has turned and the sea of nostalgia has slowly swam their way.

Lead singer, Jarvis Cocker sits perfectly in the grand tradition of great British eccentrics and for his unique voice he should be considered a national treasure alongside the likes of Stephen Fry and Alan Bennett. Whether it be on record, or indulging us with his musical oddities on 6music every Sunday afternoon, his voice is always welcome around my way.

But, what does another 90’s guitar band getting back together say about the state of modern British guitar music?  Recent years have seen a triumphant Blur reunion, Oasis continue to sell out stadiums until their inevitable demise and even Suede are back together with dates at the O2 lined up!

The cycle of nostalgia showed itself to be spinning ever faster this summer when The Libertines reformed to play the Reading and Leeds Festivals; a band who were at their commercial peak only six years ago.

Obviously, there is a definite allure about the possibility of seeing a once great band get back together and play the hits just one last time, but is this simply down to the fact that British guitar music is critically dull at the moment?

At a time when unemployment is at its highest for over 20 years, the gap between rich and poor is growing and the Tories are back in power, the only audible voices of discontent seem to be coming from people firmly settled into middle age like Paul Weller and The Manic Street Preachers.

Have we spawned a generation too apathetic to pull themselves away from constant re-runs of people’s past glories and the constant hum of insipid Mumford and Sons records, or are the next generation of bands with a little bit of fire in their belly around the corner? We’ll have to wait and see, but until then… it’ll be good when the play common people!