UK Music calls on PM to protect British music in Brexit process

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In a letter to the prime minister, UK Music’s deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl has urged Boris Johnson to secure a trade deal and copyright changes to support the music industry.

Kiehl congratulated the PM on his election victory but also asks Johnson, ‘to ensure that 2020 is the year that we ‘get Brexit done’ for music.’

Following the Christmas break, Kiehl welcomed the Government’s legislative commitments in the Queen’s Speech to extend business rate relief to grassroots music venues and an earlier announcement in the Conservative Party manifesto to introduce an arts premium in schools.

Nevertheless, he also highlighted that the proposals contained in the EU Copyright Directive needed to be implemented and action taken to secure a future trade agreement with the EU to support overseas tours.

According to the Music By Numbers report, published in November, exports were worth £2.7 billion to the UK economy in 2018.

Kiehl warned the PM: ‘The clock is ticking and it is vital to the future success of the world-leading UK music industry that the Government now makes rapid progress on securing a trade deal and copyright protections.’

On the issue of the Copyright Directive, Mr Kiehl adds: ‘Last year European Union institutions agreed the Copyright Directive. The Directive will improve the way creators and those that invest in them are financially rewarded for the use of music online.

‘The Government’s support for the Directive has been very welcome. Without the Directive, creators will continue to get a raw deal as a result of Google-owned YouTube currently paying creators significantly less than the real value to them.

‘We support the need for a transitional phase once the UK leaves the EU at the end of January. However, given the Government’s intention not to extend transition beyond the end of the year there is a danger that it will not be possible to transpose the Copyright Directive within the two-year implementation period.

‘We ask the Government to guarantee that the core principles of the Directive are reflected in UK copyright law by the end of 2020. The Government must set out a road map outlining how it intends to take the Directive and its key proposals forward. Failure to deliver these vital changes would mean the UK is out of step with its largest music market.’

On the issue of securing a trade deal, Mr Kiehl comments: ‘To continue to build on this world leading success story artists and creators need to be able to tour internationally. This is however in jeopardy if a free trade agreement at the end of the Brexit transitional phase does not take into account the music industry’s needs.

‘Leaving the European Union raises the possibility of UK touring artists’ continued ability to move freely without extra costs and bureaucracy. The loss of freedom of movement on goods will also see the introduction of an expensive and time-consuming carnet system for musical equipment.

‘As part of discussions on a future free trade agreement with the EU, the Government must back plans for a single EU-wide live music “touring passport” to avoid burdensome new restrictions. Our future relationship with the European Union has historically been based on reciprocal cultural exchange and this needs to be secured by the end of the year.’

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