'The indie publisher is more important than ever': Andy Heath's big vision for IMPEL

'The indie publisher is more important than ever': Andy Heath's big vision for IMPEL

Beggars Music chairman Andy Heath warned that YouTube is “breaking the foundations of copyright”, during his address to the inaugural IMPEL AGM.

IMPEL (Independent Music Publishers’ E-Licensing) launched as a standalone digital rights body six months ago with Heath as part of its leadership team. It has an administration deal for its rights with SACEM.

“It is transparent,” said Heath of the newly-formed IMPEL. “It is honest – and it is run by people who are in the independent music publishing business.”

The collective licensing agency is owned and controlled by its members, including Bucks Music Group, Beggars Music, Reservoir Music, Kassner Music and Truelove Music. It aims to do for independent publishers what Merlin has achieved for indie labels.

Outlining the ambitions of IMPEL six months after it became independent of the Music Publishers’ Association, Heath added: “We are already concluding licenses with major DSPs and there will be significant announcements over the next few months.

“We are already in communication with the major players in China, South America and elsewhere, and our objective to be a global organisation will be met in the years to come. The dream is that any independent publisher will be able to come to IMPEL and get the best licenses anywhere in the world. That’s a big ambition. It will take some years to achieve, but that is the direction of travel and we are already making strides down that road.”

But Heath also used the speech to issue a warning about YouTube encroaching into the music industry, following the Google-owned platform’s vocal opposition to the EU Copyright Directive.

YouTube are far less interested in breaking new talent than they are in breaking the foundations of copyright

Andy Heath

“One of the recent manifestations of this is the YouTube/MMF scheme where YouTube are providing a very substantial fund for subsidising young managers,” said Heath. “In many ways, this sounds great, and it may be for certain individuals. But, as the old saying goes, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’.  

“Let’s be perfectly clear here, YouTube are far less interested in breaking new talent than they are in breaking the foundations of copyright.”

Heath suggested the MMF-YouTube partnership “demonstrates how vigilant we have to be and how closely together we need to work as an industry”.

But it was generally an upbeat vision from the industry veteran.

“The industry has shown clearly that it can thrive in the digital world,” added Heath. “It is a world in which the licensing of IP is the very fabric of the commercial models that operate in the digital environment.”

Heath suggested that music publishers had been able to adapt to the digital landscape better than other sectors.

“The role of the independent publisher in the modern music environment is more important than it ever has been, it’s more essential than it ever has been and it’s more exciting than it ever has been,” he said. “We are in charge of our own creative destiny. We are rising to that challenge. We are revealing new talent and we are growing as a sector.”

During the AGM, IMPEL elected its board of directors, including Heath (Beggars Music), Simon Platz (Bucks Music Group), David Kassner (Kassner Music), John Truelove (Truelove Music), Mike Box (Reservoir Music), Jody Klein (Legs Music), and Andre De Raaff (CTM)

Four more nominated executives were elected to complete the IMPEL Board: Ryan Farley (Cooking Vinyl Publishing), Simon Harris (Minds On Fire), Mary Jo Mannella (Music Asset Management) and Paul Tunkin (Blow Up Songs).

Apple’s global director of music publishing, Elena Segal, was the AGM’s guest speaker.


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