Earlier today (April 27), Music Week broke the news that UK Music has appointed Labour politician Michael Dugher as its new chief executive, replacing the outgoing Jo Dipple. But what do we actually know about the new man at the helm of the UK music industry?
Well, we know he is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and has been a Labour MP for the seat of Barnsley East since 2010. Earlier this month he announced he was leaving the House of Commons in order to become UK Music’s third chief executive since it was launched back in 2008.
We also know that he was a communications specialist at 10 Downing Street between 2008-2010, working as the PM’s chief political spokesman and that he has occupied government roles including Defence, Transport and Local Government, as well as for the Leader of the House of Commons and for the Government Chief Whip.
And what of his connection to music and the arts? Well, aside from being a self-taught multi-instrumentalist – he plays guitar, bass, piano and even mandolin and just last year he performed at the iconic Cavern Club in Liverpool – he describes himself as a Beatles fanatic, a Neil Finn fan and a huge admirer of the blues and rock'n'roll.
During his short tenure as Shadow Culture Secretary, he campaigned for the rights of small venues, and backed the 'agent of change' principle which requires developers who build near established music venues to pay for soundproofing and other measures.
He’s also the patron of several musical organisations in his Barnsley constituency. Among them, the Live in Barnsley music festival, the Wombwell Operatic Society and the Worsbrough Brass Band. Plus, he’s a member of the Barnsley Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and a proud member of the Royal British Legion (Hoyland and District Branch).
Furthermore, he has previously hailed the work of Dipple over the past five years, having worked with UK Music at various points during her tenure. Plus, in 2015 he appeared as a speaker at the annual Venues Day conference.
So, while time will tell how Dugher transitions from the world of politics to his seat at the very heart of the UK music industry, his background as a lifelong music fan and musician will no doubt stand him in good stead amongst his peers. This will certainly come in handy, as he’ll no doubt have to hit the ground running, what with the impending General Election and the task of having to fill some pretty big boots when Dipple departs next month.
Commenting on his new role, Dugher said: "I'm thrilled to have been appointed chief executive of UK Music. I have engaged with the organisation for several years and have seen it go from strength to strength thanks to its board, chairman Andy Heath and previous CEOs Feargal Sharkey and Jo Dipple. There is a great team at UK Music who do brilliant work and I'm really looking forward to working with them.
"British music is a world-beating industry which brings huge economic benefits for our country. I am determined to work with all the individual members of UK Music – on the business and creator side – to ensure our industry is protected during the Brexit process and that we continue to thrive.
"Safeguarding intellectual property, protecting venues, promoting new opportunities and broadening diversity in the sector are all central to our work at UK Music.
"Music has been a lifelong passion for me and I'm looking forward to helping make a real difference as UK Music's new chief executive."
Dugher will take up his position in mid-May.