'Brexit is the most pressing issue': Music industry outlines priorities for new PM

'Brexit is the most pressing issue': Music industry outlines priorities for new PM

The UK has a new Prime Minister today (July 24) as Boris Johnson enters No.10. With just months to go until the latest deadline of October 31 for exiting the EU, the music industry will be lobbying the reshaped administration on post-Brexit arrangements and priorities for the future success of the biz.

In the latest issue of Music Week, industry leaders discuss the potential concern surrounding the Copyright Directive – an EU law opposed by Johnson earlier this year. UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has already given a speech with a message for Johnson on the importance of the wider music industry for the economy.

With government appointments taking place today – including key roles for the industry of Culture Secretary and Business Secretary – leaders of four UK industry bodies reveal what’s on their policy agenda for the new PM…

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and BRIT Awards

“Every time we have a new Prime Minister and new administration, we go back in and forge again our contact with BEIS, DCMS, No.10, the Treasury. So we will be doing that again – and we have clear priorities and messages.

“Probably the most important long-term issue on Brexit is IP protection and trade deals. We need to make sure that we maintain a stable, strong copyright regime in the UK, and that that isn’t something that gets traded away in any negotiation that might follow Brexit, particularly with the United states where there are various exceptions in US copyright law that we would not want to see brought over to the UK. Clearly, when it comes to trade deals with other third countries, there are some opportunities to improve the standard of copyright protection and enforcement, which would be very valuable to our ability to bring in export revenues.

“The second area connected with Brexit is the question of the ability of artists and producers and other people who work with them to travel freely to Europe. The EU has offered reciprocal arrangements on visa-free travel for business and we need the UK government to make clear that it will reciprocate, whatever the outcome of negotiations. So that’s very important and there are related issues around transfer of equipment, with the fear that carnets will be brought back and introduce more cost and bureaucracy into travelling to Europe to make music. 

“The third most important [Brexit] issue relates to the physical supply chain. We have an important CD and vinyl market, it’s still nearly 30% of label income and we need to make sure that products can flow between the EU and the UK without hold-ups or additional costs.

“On domestic policy, there are a couple of ways we think the UK could boost the domestic market. One is by looking at how can we incentivise greater investment into making new recordings in the UK, and making the UK a very attractive place for that to happen. So we think that the government should look at extending the successful creative production tax [relief] to recorded music.

“The second area that would really help strengthen the UK market is making sure that we have the best enforcement of copyright in the UK out of any country. The area where there is most potential for improvement is in ensuring that online platforms take a proactive responsibility for preventing illegal content on their services.” 

Paul Pacifico, CEO, AIM

“We’ve got three key priority areas. Priority one is the future of the UK concerning Brexit, particularly national trade and ensuring that we have a strong copyright framework going forward. Boris Johnson has made comments about whether or not he’s going to implement any new European legislation in the UK. The Copyright Directive is of keen importance to us. If we are not going to adopt the European Copyright Directive, we’d like to explore the opportunity to even further strengthen the UK’s copyright regime. Tied to that is all of our prorities around movement, so that’s people but also data and repertoire, that is key for us.

Small indies will be utterly isolated by a potential no-deal Brexit - that’s potentially a nightmare scenario

Paul Pacifico

“I think larger independents are more likely to have a footprint within the EU. Smaller [indies] are where my concern is, because they will be utterly isolated by a potential no-deal Brexit and they don’t have an office or company within the EU. That’s potentially a nightmare scenario.

“The next of our three priorities is the talent pipeline. We want to see the government make a genuine and substantive commitment to creative skills at the core of education. We are very aware in terms of the future of work, skills and jobs – and not just in creative industries – they are increasingly vocal about needing critical thinkers in their businesses. Those skills are really developed in the arts, not just in STEM subjects. The talent pipeline is definitely our second priority and that’s both in the formal and informal contexts – we also want a renewed commitment to informal training outside of schools. 

“The third key priority would be access to finance, particularly for SMEs, and looking at genuinely workable solutions. Affordable sources of capital are a huge problem for entrepreneurs in music, we believe part of the solution should be a tax break to harmonise the creative industries and give some equality to music alongside film, TV and games, who all have existing tax breaks.”

Graham Davies, CEO, Ivors Academy

“Brexit is the most pressing issue for the government. Europe is the biggest market for our members’ music currently and the UK is a centre of excellence for music composition and songwriting that relies on freedom of movement of creators from Europe and the rest of the world. We ask the government to remove barriers of movement and trade to support its creative economy.

“The European Copyright Directive was approved despite an unprecedented deluge of distorted public debate and undemocratic lobbying by YouTube/Google. This essential legislation is fundamental to safeguarding the livelihoods of creators. We ask the government to implement it into UK law as soon as possible, the important principles of copyright liability for platforms and greater protections for creators including fair remuneration, transparency and contract adjustment towards a flourishing future for music.

“Music education is in crisis, access to a music career is becoming less diverse, with fewer grassroots music venues and many finding it difficult to sustain a career from music making. People from working-class backgrounds are significantly under-represented across the sector, as are women, people with disabilities and those from BAME backgrounds. If the UK’s music industry is to continue to lead the world, we must act to make careers in music more accessible and rewarding. We ask the government to bring music along with other creative subjects back into schools and invest in music education. 

“Music creators do not fairly share in the revenues being generated by their work online, music labels and artists take circa 80% of revenues, leaving publishers and creators to share in the rest. The economics of distributing music online are very different to the offline/CD world yet these old legacy models have been forced on creators online. We ask the government to help creators obtain a commensurate share of revenues that reflect their contribution to the value created.

“End coercive commissioning. Whether it is broadcasters and platforms demanding creators’ publishing rights, offering low commission fees, buyouts or songwriters being expected to work for the promise of future royalties, creators are increasingly facing coercive commissioning practices across the industry. We ask the government to help music creators establish codes of practice that enable the proper management and remuneration of creators’ rights.

“We seek greater influence and representation of music creators across the industry to safeguard the value of rights and achieve a more balanced music economy. We ask the government to support us in removing barriers to equality and inclusion.” 

Horace Trubridge, general secretary, Musicians’ Union

“Our priorities are:

“Implementation of the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive.

“Freedom of movement in the EU for musicians and ancillary workers post-Brexit.

“Investment in music education in state schools particularly musical instrument tuition.

“Business/corporation tax cuts for grassroots music venues.

“Increased funding for the Arts Council of England and for orchestras.”

Subscribers can click here to read the Music Week report on the hopes and fears of the biz as Johnson takes over as PM.

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