Geoff Taylor calls for post-Covid boost for UK music

Geoff Taylor

The BPI will lobby the UK government for more support for the music industry as concerns rise over 2020’s lack of artist breakthroughs.

Speaking in this week’s issue of Music Week, available now, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said that – although the recorded music sector defied coronavirus disruption to see an 8.7% year-on-year rise in consumption during Q3 – the current global situation was tough for UK artists and labels.

“Not only is it an exceptionally difficult time for artists, but it’s also been a difficult time for labels to promote new artists,” said Taylor. “Normally, live touring is a significant part of a promotional campaign, and there just haven’t been the same radio and TV opportunities. It’s been a very difficult time to launch the career of a new artist and that is a problem for labels going forward.

“But labels continue to invest very heavily in developing new talent and they’re working on new ways to get artists out there,” he added. “ As an industry we are working on new ways to bring new music to fans, but there’s no doubt it’s harder under a Covid environment.”

New Music Week research on Official Charts Company figures show that, of the year’s Top 100 albums so far, only eight were made by UK artists and released in 2020. Only one UK debut, KSI’s Dissimulation (RBC/BMG) made the list, at No.41.

With international travel almost impossible, the global picture for breakthroughs is even bleaker and, with Brexit looming at the end of the year, Taylor said the BPI was looking at ways to boost UK music overseas.

“This is something we’re bringing to the attention of government,” said Taylor. “The priority is supporting the artist community and trying to get music venues and nightclubs back open, so that the industry can get back to some kind of normality. Once that is the case, there’s a lot of work to be done on maximising the share that British artists command on the world stage.

“That is something that we’re talking to our partners at the Department For International Trade and the Department For Culture, Media & Sport about,” he added. “We have specific proposals about how we can work together to improve that share of the global market. There is an enormous opportunity for British music as the streaming market grows overseas and we embark on a new future in global trade. Music has a really important part to play.”

One encouraging sign in Q3 was a strong recovery from physical music as shops reopened and retail initiatives such as Record Store Day and HMV Vinyl Week – relocated from their usual Q2 home – helped power a 41.4% year-on-year rise in vinyl sales.

The industry will be hoping for a further boost from this weekend’s ‘80s-themed National Album Day, and Taylor was confident the public will turn out again.

“I don’t think there’s a danger of fatigue,” he said. “Initiatives like this, that bring new editorial and new conversation points, are really welcomed both by the media and by consumers. There are a lot of interesting things to get involved with as a fan or as a music store, and that will help the CD market as well as vinyl.

“We’ve established National Album Day as a date in the calendar that gets decent media coverage and that retailers are interested in supporting,” he added. “What we’ve managed to deliver this year was greater label support in terms of exclusive product – that makes it more of an event and gives people more reason to go into store.”

* For the full reports on Q3 and National Album Day, see the new edition of Music Week magazine, available now, or click here and here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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