'There's lots of artists supporting this': UK Music's CEO on the urgent campaign for EU copyright reform

'There's lots of artists supporting this': UK Music's CEO on the urgent campaign for EU copyright reform

There’s just a week to go until the crunch vote in the European Parliament on the Copyright Directive that could solve the industry’s issues with income from upload services such as YouTube.

As revealed in the latest issue of Music Week, the #LoveMusic campaign has united the industry around the issue in an effort to lobby MEPS to vote for the proposals, in particular Article 13. The biz suffered a blow when the European Parliament rejected the opportunity to open discussions in July.

Back then even the support of Sir Paul McCartney couldn’t win the day. But UK Music CEO Michael Dugher is confident that the artist community will make its voice heard on the issue. The Featured Artists Coalition and MMF are among the supporters of the campaign.  

Here, Dugher talks Music Week through the key points of the debate and the campaign strategy…

Why is it important for everyone in the industry to be uniting behind this campaign in the run-up to the vote?

I think this is a battle for the heart and soul of our creative music industry, which is something that is dear to so many people up and down the length and breadth of the country. It’s also a battle about deciding it’s time do the right thing. It is a huge moment for the future of the British music industry. We contribute nearly £4.5 billion to the economy, we produce the best creative talent from music and we need to protect that and make sure that the creators who write and perform start to get this fair reward. So, this is actually all about decency and standing up to a bully, which is what Google is - a massive corporate bully.

A vote was lost on the reforms in July. Do you think this is show of unity that can have an impact on MEPs?

UK Music’s job is just to bring people together. The strength of our campaign is actually our argument and that’s something we feel confident about. We lost the vote before but it was something that was slightly bounced on the European Parliament at short notice. Copyright and intellectual property rights are not something that most people have a lot of knowledge about, so emphasising what is actually at stake and appealing to people on that basis is the task that we face.

I’ve never seen the UK music industry so united as it is today

Michael Dugher

How do you win over legislators in the face of quite a concerted lobbying effort by the tech and internet sector?

That’s dead easy, it is with the truth. What happened in the last vote is you had this big money campaign of fake news and fabricated, orchestrated deception. So the biggest thing that we have on our side is the truth. We just ask people,  who creates this content in the first place? Who is it that’s making all the money around this? Why is it that the vast majority of people that go on YouTube are going on there for music content? The biggest weapon that we’ve got is the truth.

What’s UK Music doing in the run-up to the vote?

Bringing together all sides of the industry. I’ve never seen the UK music industry so united as it is today, because whether you’re a creator or an investor in music, this is a momentous battle. We are just going to keep making the arguments and we’re going to be talking to MEPs and mobilising the public and the artist community, and we’ll continue to do that right up until the vote in September.

We had Sir Paul McCartney involved last time, are there more artists getting involved before the vote?

There’s been lots of artists supporting this. The thing I was enormously impressed with by Paul McCartney was his willingness to actually step into a political battle, which normally he wouldn’t want to do. He was doing it because he cared about the future generation of British talent. He had opportunities in the early ‘60s, and thank God he did because, more than any other figure in British music, Paul McCartney changed the whole world. He did so because he was given that opportunity, and he just wants to see that those opportunities are given to creatives in the future. I thought it was incredibly bold of him to make the intervention he did. We look forward to other artists that are coming in and giving something back for the next generation too.

Is there any danger of alienating the tech world, seeing as YouTube have been a bit more artist friendly of late

I disagree with that, no they haven’t, this is just spin by YouTube. YouTube make billions of pounds out of the music content on their platform. I’m very angry about it, so are lots of other people. It’s time that they paid their fair share to the people that create the content that’s made them billions.

Will you be going out to Brussels?

I’ll be going out there, I was out there recently with [shadow culture secretary] Tom Watson and the UK delegation, I hope to be out there in the coming days as well. This is great moral fight for our industry, the British music industry is a phenomenal success and that’s only the case because of the role that creators play and it’s time we acknowledged that.

Will the campaigning intensify as we get closer to the vote?

Totally. When we did the Agent of Change campaign, UK music was more than capable of mobilising the music industry. This is our number one priority and we’re going to see it through.

To read Music Week’s in-depth report on the big vote pick up the latest issue - or subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.

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