opinion

Pub quiz: Why music publishing is the new rock'n'roll

Time was, record company executives would deride publishing as the ‘unsexy side of the music business’. The implication was that, while labels were out there putting their necks on the block in the name of rock’n’roll, the publishers just sat ...

EU! Outside! Now! Why the Copyright Directive battle is the biz's wake-up call for Brexit

The Copyright Directive victory last week may have showed the value of European Union membership, but no one on this side of the English Channel can allow themselves to get too used to such privileges. Which is why, as we pack the phrases “Article 13” and “value gap” away in the great dictionary graveyard, the UK music business needs to divert its efforts towards other, less pleasurable European matters. As the prospect of a cliff-edge Brexit looms, it’s vital that musicians and their representatives don’t wake up on March 30 without a clue how they'll go about their business in the future Because, like it or not, Brexit is coming. In 193 days (that’s just over six months), the UK will lose the EU comfort blanket and anyone working in the international business of music – and that’s pretty much everyone these days – will have to face up to a whole new world. Given that the UK government doesn’t yet have a workable deal in place, it’s understandable that music businesses have yet to grasp the nettle. And if the City doesn’t know what’s going on yet, the creative industries may have a long wait for concrete information. But as the prospect of a cliff-edge Brexit looms ever larger, it’s vital that musicians and their representatives don’t wake up on March 30 without a clue how they'll go about their business in the future. Lobbying government will remain crucial, of course. But music trade bodies need to bring the same laser focus they trained on Article 13 over the last few weeks to a workable plan for music, should the worst-case scenario become a reality. How will bands tour the continent? How will import/export of physical product function if tariffs are imposed? What will replace EU funding for those music businesses that rely upon it? These, and many other questions, all need answers, and it would be a mistake to rely on Theresa May and her merry band of Brexiteers to provide them. Article 13 showed that the music biz can win in Europe. It’s going to take an even bigger effort to pull this victory off, so don’t delay: plan your Brexit strategy today… * Get the new issue of Music Week, out today (September 17) for our analysis of the Copyright Directive vote, and what has to happen next for it to become UK law. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

Lucky 13: What the music biz should do next after its Copyright Directive victory

There are many things to celebrate about yesterday’s European Parliament vote in favour of the new Copyright Directive. The fact that Article 13 - which will help make internet platforms responsible for the content they host - passed undiluted. That the margin of victory (438 to 226) was big enough to avoid any Brexit-style lingering resentment. And that, hopefully, no one will ever need to say the phrase ‘value gap’ in public ever again. Not even Paul McCartney. It’s been a long, hard road to get to this point and the biz has campaigned much more effectively since the setback in July, so no wonder the music business has been celebrating loudly (if you can think of a trade body that hasn’t sent Music Week a triumphant quote, then please do get them to give us a call). But once everyone’s tucked into a full Belgian breakfast this morning (after a few Belgian beers last night), the music business needs to get back to work, because this battle won’t be over until the Brussels bureaucrats sing. European law is a convoluted beast at the best of times, and complex negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and Council would surely not been seen as a good time by many. The comprehensive nature of the victory will give the creative sector a flying start, but it’s a rare European law that doesn’t undergo some tinkering before entering the statute books. You could also add in the vexed question of Brexit and whether the UK will even still be a member of the European Union by the time that happens. It seems likely that the transition period will help out there, but UK campaigners should use the time to make sure British politicians - often more susceptible to big tech lobbying than their European counterparts - are on top of the issues, just in case. And that tech lobby, which fought hard against Article 13, is unlikely to sleep on the next stage of this process. Google’s reaction to the vote was measured and sounded conciliatory, but was hardly an admission of defeat. “People want access to quality news and creative content online,” it read. “We’ve always said that more innovation and collaboration are the best way to achieve a sustainable future for the European news and creative sectors, and we’re committed to continued close partnership with these industries." And the fact is, as Music Week has said all along, the music business needs a successful YouTube. The company has come a long way in recent years, with a subscription service that’s not only as good as anything else out there, but has been heavily backed by the company (you can thank Lyor Cohen for that). The music industry can afford to be magnanimous in victory and use its position of strength to get better deals from and build better partnerships with the affected platforms. Whatever happens in the next stage of negotiations, rights-holders need to know they’re coming away with a better deal - but not one that’s going to make YouTube undo all the positive steps they’ve made of late. There’s still work to be done, in other words. And, as long as we can do it without using the phrase ‘value gap’, then everyone will be a winner...

'We have badly strayed from a world where artists control their work': Rosanne Cash on today's Copyright Directive vote

Whose side are you on?: How the music biz can come out on top in the Copyright Directive end game

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