Election time: Inside the UK Music 2017 manifesto

Election time: Inside the UK Music 2017 manifesto

With another general election now just weeks away, UK Music will later today launch its 2017 manifesto, highlighting the key areas in which the Government will need to act to ensure the industry’s prosperity over the next five years as we plan for a future outside of the EU. Here, Music Week takes an exclusive look inside at the trade body’s proposals and picks out the key takeaways...

The new manifesto identifies five key areas that UK Music insists must be addressed to secure Britain’s status as a “world-conquering music industry”, highlighting £4.1 billion that it contributed to the nation’s economy in 2015 – a figure that has grown 17% over the space of five years. It also points toward the 27.7 million music tourists that visit the UK each year to attend live music events, a figure that is highly likely to be impacted upon significantly by Brexit, as well as the implication our EU exit will have on touring UK artists.

This provides the platform for the first area addressed in the manifesto:

International action
In order for the UK’s buoyant music tourism to avoid any detrimental Brexit effect, UK Music has proposed the introduction of systems to support temporary short-term permissions and exemptions for musicians and crews.

It also calls for international copyright enforcement to be a key part of trade negotiations with UK trading partners, while highlighting that, while the US remains the largest national market for the recorded music industry, variety of issues prevent the UK music industry from benefiting from the use of music. The imposition of compulsory licences, the “bars and grills” exception, no sound recording royalties on FM radio and Consent Decrees “should all be tackled in future trade deals”, says the manifesto.

UK Music also insists that international collecting societies administering rights and royalties for UK rights-holders must operate transparently.

Regional development
Back on domestic soil, the UK Music manifesto outlines the importance of ensuring all four corners of the country are sufficiently developed, ensuring that artists, musicians, composers, songwriters, producers and music businesses of all shapes and sizes across the country are given the chance to grow. One suggestion is the implementation of a regional figure in the form of London’s recently appointed Night Czar Amy Lame. This person, says the manifesto, would then be able to with local authorities, venues and businesses to get the best for the biz in that area.

It is also proposes that the agent of change planning principle and further “liberalisation” of licensing laws be brought into effect, along with business rate reforms for small music businesses under threat from rapidly rising business rates.

Intellectual property
With the shadow of Brexit looming ever larger, UK Music insists that withdrawal from the EU does not require substantial changes to the UK copyright framework, stating that “this continuity is critical to ensuring confidence amongst music businesses”.

The manifesto also proposes that initiatives be developed to place responsibility on internet service providers and require them to have a duty of care for copyright protected music. Last year there were 7.2 billion visits to copyright-infringing stream- ripping websites in 2016, representing a 60% increase in the previous year. And of course, the ever-present issue of the value gap remains a hot topic for Government to press on with over the coming years.

Skills and education
Education cuts have led increasingly to music taking a back seat in schools up and down the country, with music education only being compulsory for all Year 9 students in 62% of schools. Whichever party is elected next month, UK Music will be calling on them to reverse what it describes as a “catastrophic trend”.

In addition, UK Music believes that Government needs to strengthen careers advice so that information on how to pursue a career in the music industry can be better understood, while further investment in rehearsal spaces and music-based community hubs should be considered.

Another big area of concern is gender and ethnic diversity. The UK Music Diversity Taskforce survey found that 15.6% of the workforce are from a BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) background. However, two thirds of music industry workers are based in London where the workforce as a whole is 30.3% BAME. The overall split of men to women (53.6% to 45.3%) in the music industry shows women are slightly underrepresented in comparison with the UK population as a whole (49.3% to 50.7%). Women between the ages of 25 and 34 account for 54.5% of the workforce yet for those aged between 45 and 64 it is 32.7%. As such, UK Music proposes that Parliament and Government should continue to engage with the industry on steps towards a more diverse and representative sector.

In addition, the manifesto emphasises that 43.5% of those working in the creative sector are self-employed and that self-employed parents are penalised by not being eligible for shared parental leave and pay. Eligibility for shared parental leave, says UK Music, should be changed to support work-life balance amongst self-employed people working within the industry.

Finance and investment
Last but not least, we come to the fifth subject outlined in the manifesto. With the financial needs of small and medium-sized companies differing wildly from those of the sector’s biggest players, the trade body has put forward a number of proposals aimed at assisting those in the process of growing their business.

The Government has introduced a number of creative sector tax credits to incentivise new productions, although at present, music does not receive equivalent assistance from the Government. As such, the manifesto claims that measures to incentivise the UK as a destination for music recording via tax credits should be introduced to support the development of new artists and ensure content creation within the UK is retained.

Elsewhere, it says that Government should consider the case for a Culture and Heritage Investment Tax Relief. This would be based on the existing Social Investment Tax Relief model and operate along similar lines to that of EIS/SEIS schemes, allowing investors to receive tax relief in relation to venues, creative spaces and performances.

UK Music chairman Andy Heath said of the manifesto: “To maintain growth and withstand the challenges that may be presented over the next five years, our Government needs to put creative industries at the heart of Brexit negotiations and devise an industrial strategy to safeguard sectors like music and allow them to develop further. Securing the best deal for music must be achieved for our industry, our economy and for the world’s music fans.”

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