As Chief Executive of UK Music, I am incredibly proud to be at the helm of such a diverse and dynamic organisation. What drives our industry is passion, and I am surrounded by people who have this in abundance; people who are committed to ensuring our future success. Our organisation is capable of representing a wide spectrum of views, which is incredibly important, especially when communicating with government and policymakers.
It’s great to see the appetite for British music remaining vast, and the cultural and economic impact of our industry is considerable. In addition to the estimated £3.8bn of revenues we generate, music offers the UK a unique identity. It is through music that many overseas’ visitors perceive us – a fact borne out by UK Music’s Destination Music report from 2011, which highlighted the £1.4bn contribution that visitors make to the UK tourism economy while attending large scale live events.
As ever, the legislative schedule remains ferocious, but I would like to flag up two notable successes. The first is UK Music’s recent work, in conjunction with the Musicians’ Union, Lord Tim Clement-Jones and Don Foster MP to aid the transition of the Live Music Bill. In January of this year, this Private Members’ Bill achieved the extraordinary feat of passing its third reading and report stage, literally with seconds of Parliamentary time left to spare.
The Bill received Royal Assent earlier this month, which will result in venues under a 200 person capacity being exempt from requiring a local authority entertainment licence to put on performances of live music. This is fantastic news for small pubs and clubs and, most importantly, for musicians. A healthy grassroots live music scene is the bedrock of our business, and this Bill will cut red tape and allow more premises to host events. It will make a real difference, and the entire industry should have immense gratitude for Lord Clement-Jones in particular for his tenacity and tireless support of musicians.
The second initiative I would like to highlight is UK Music’s Equality and Diversity Charter which was launched last month. Supported by all UK Music’s founding members, the aim of the charter is to highlight and promote what an extraordinary asset diversity is to music, arguably best reflected by our creative talent and our customers. We also wanted to highlight some of the excellent pro- diversity initiatives and practices that are already underway and to encourage businesses and individuals to commit to two actions in 2012.
I believe that there is a strong commercial imperative for the industry to embrace the Charter and it has already won support from policymakers, including the Shadow Culture Secretary, who singled out the initiative in a recent speech at the University of Hertfordshire.
We should enjoy these successes now, as the industry will face significant challenges over coming months, including government’s plans to change some of the UK’s copyright laws, results of a feasibility study for a Digital Copyright Exchange, implementation of the Digital Economy Act and, beyond that, the prospect of a new Communications Bill. It’s a mammoth programme.
Our imminent focus lies on government proposals to change the UK’s copyright system and open up a number of exceptions for use of copyrighted works. The consultation ends on 21 March and government will be considering legislative options going forwards. I made UK Music’s overall position crystal clear in a recent think piece for Music Week, highlighting the areas where government must carefully consider its actions, especially if we want to achieve the desired result of economic growth. This country has an immense opportunity to build on the extraordinary achievements of our creative industries, which collectively account for eight percent of GDP – especially if we marry these successes to technological innovation.
Divorcing our creative and digital industries, or favouring one over the other will do the opposite. Growth is dependent on marrying the opportunities of both the creative and digital industries. Government must prioritise a framework for these two sectors to grow together. It is the creators and investors in our business who produce the key fuel – music – for a host of digital entrepreneurs, whether they are Shoreditch start-ups or US tech giants like Google. As with any economic value chain, if the manufacturers cannot prosper, then it will ultimately be of detriment to those further down the line. We will grow together, or not at all.
Certainly, some of government’s plans, notably on exceptions for private copying and educational use, risk undermining economic growth. Music is leading the way in embracing digital licensing. It would be catastrophic if government, through badly-drafted legislation, undermined this digital growth.
The support and energy of our members is key in getting these points across. By pulling together and presenting a united front, I am sure we can ensure that the brightest days for UK music are yet to come.
Jo Dipple is Chief Executive of UK Music, replacing Feargal Sharkey who left the organisation last November. She joined UK Music in 2008 as senior policy advisor, building on a background in strategic communications and newspaper publishing.
UK Music is the umbrella body which represents the commercial music industry. Its members represent the full spectrum of the business; AIM, BASCA, BPI, MMF, MPA, MPG, MU, PPL and PRS for Music. Since last May, and the formation of the UK Live Music Group, it also represents the live music sector.