Popular music has long been awash with state polices and attitudes, and has been a major factor in the rising of popular music within Popular Culture. There are of course many views and leanings on ‘Culture’ itself, and such state concepts are a topical debate over government economic intervention in the market place versus the operation of the ‘free market’ (Shuker, 1994: 53) in forming, doctoring and maintaining cultural identity. In Popular Music, most governments have held a traditional conservative view of ‘culture’ – but this is an (music) industry that is not regulated as such in terms of content etc.
However there are concerns across the board, being partly the reason why governments may like more say. Such as if it threatens social order (Shuker, 1994: 53 & Strinati 1995: 12-13); moral panics of over the social activities of youth cultures (where many groups such as Parents have voiced there concern, such as lyrics of rap/hip-hop music etc). Looking at more how culture and music are related now, most State policies have often been based in and around elitist ideas of culture and music; which try to distance and separate from the material production and economic activity music has.
However governments do intervene in various forms, offering subsidy, licensing arrangements and protecting national music etc through required various quota’s etc. Seeing their notions as very much part of ‘High Culture’. ‘High Culture’ is seen as intellectual and artistic arts produced and consumed for the middle and upper classes, this was due to political and economic inequalities, keeping it very much an elitist culture as it was not accessible by all groups.
A view written about by Victorian Poet & Educator Matthew Arnold, who thought that ‘Culture’ was associated with the ‘intellectual’ side of civilisation, his famous quote being… “… The best which has been thought and said in the world to maintain standards & maintain social order”… (*In ‘Culture and Anarchy’ 1869) This ideology was used by elites within government, academia, etc. therefore it can be seen as a form of Cultural Hegemony (Strinati, 1995: 165 – 168). So if High Art is confined to the Middle/Upper Classes, then ‘Popular culture’ is opposite from this.
Popular Culture takes its basis from working class culture, its accessible by the average person, who produce and consume it. It’s very much a lived culture. So its ‘allegedly’ unfit and unworthy for significant government support. This has somewhat changed under the New Labour Government talking in present terms. New Labour has very much pushed and promoted popular music and its artists through new programmes, such as the Music Industry Forum, chaired by Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell.
In the recent Music Summit (February 2003) Ministers invited key players from the music world to share their views on how the Licensing Bill should be delivered to ensure live music can flourish in the future. Those who attended represented writers, managers, record labels, music teachers, students and grass root musicians. Culture Minister Kim Howells said: “We want live music to flourish in this country. That’s our endgame”. Speaking about new licensing bill aiding Musicians in freedoms and protections and to aid entertainers.