Media Release: Digital and Culture Minister, Matt Hancock MP, pledges support to build on UK music industry’s success


THE new Minister of State for Digital and Culture, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, addressed the music industry yesterday at the BPI’s 43rd AGM and pledged his personal support in building on the outstanding success of the UK’s music industry.

The Minister highlighted the support that the Government has already given to the music sector, including the Music Export Growth Scheme, support for the Get it Right from a Genuine Sitecampaign, tax relief for orchestras, and investment in music and cultural education, including through music education hubs and the Music and Dance Scheme.

He praised the work being done by the BPI, BRITs and UK Music to promote access and diversity in music and across the creative industries and called upon the industry to go even further in using music to change lives by promoting social mobility for all.

He emphasised the power of music in helping to define the UK as a nation and the importance of the music industry as ambassadors for the UK as it demonstrates that it is open for business following the Brexit vote.

Speaking at the event, Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “We’re at the forefront of the global [music] scene… Every year, one in six of all albums sold across the world is by a British artist.

“Last year, British acts produced five of the global top ten. After the US, the UK is the largest exporter of music in the world… I’m determined that we build on this success. I pledge to you today that I will do all I can, to work to make that happen.”

After reviewing the global success of the UK business and calling on it to “do all it can to blast open the doors to the industry”.

He concluded:  “You move us, thrill us, you make us dance, and sing. You are some of our finest ambassadors. Let us build on these successes, let us spread the opportunities to all, let’s make UK music go from strength to strength. And in that goal I will be on your side.”

Minister’s speech in full:

A major theme of the AGM was celebrating 25 years of the BRIT School, which was established in 1991 with the support of the BPI and its charitable arm the BRIT Trust, and has since received around £17 million in funding from the recorded music sector.

BPI CEO, Geoff Taylor, emphasised in his address the importance of creative education for young people and the need for strong Government support for the BRIT School.

In his speech and a follow-up panel discussion, the Minister said: “I am a massive supporter of the BRIT School, which, in my view, needs to go from strength to strength, and I will absolutely work with you to see that happen.

“We talk about the BRIT School – I love the work that they’ve done, and I’ll be taking up the challenge that was laid down (in the video) to make sure it’s a great success. But, actually, we want to see more schools like that, rather than the BRIT School being the only example of it.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and BRIT Awards, said: “We’re delighted that the Minister addressed the BPI’s members so early in the new Government and are very encouraged by the positive comments he made about the importance of British music, both economically and culturally.

“The recorded music sector sits at the nexus of digital technology and culture and, with the right Government support, has the potential to generate robust growth for the economy for years to come. We look forward to working with Matt to seize the opportunities of the streaming era for fans, for the business and for young people.”

Geoff Taylor speech in full:

In his address to BPI members, Geoff Taylor identified a number of key areas where further Government action could support industry growth, including:

* Supporting creative education for young people, for example by allowing a creative subject to be included in the eBacc qualification and supporting musical instrument tuition for young people.

* Protecting funding for outstanding music schools such as the BRIT School, which faces a significant funding cut in real terms, putting at risk the quality of the free creative education it provides to young people of all backgrounds. He pointed out that this is not just about future jobs in music, TV or games, it is about equipping young people with the creative skills that are needed by our engineers, our architects and manufacturers too.

* Backing the work of the Music Venues Trust to protect and promote music venues, so that young musicians have places to hone their craft and build a fan-base. This urgency of this issue was highlighted only this week by the closure of Fabric.

* Introducing tax credits for the production of music and videos in the UK, building the UK creative skills base and ensuring more of this work takes place in the UK in a competitive global environment

* Ensuring the digital streaming value chain works, by eliminating the market distortion caused by legislative ‘safe harbours’ which results in some music platforms paying a fraction of the market rate in royalties to artists and labels.

* Requiring effective action by search engines and other online intermediaries to tackle illegal sites. Although the BPI has removed more than 300 million illegal results from online search results, consumers are still directed to illegal sites much too frequently when they search for music to download or stream. BPI will continue with voluntary talks, moderated by Government and is proposing a voluntary Code of Practice, but believes Government should now take the powers to impose a Code if effective voluntary action is not taken to address this problem.

* Extending Government’s commitment to Get it Right from a Genuine Site.  This consumer education campaign encouraging fans to value content has reached millions of consumers with positive results.  Continued government backing would send a great signal that it remains committed to consumer education in tackling digital piracy.

The 2016 BPI AGM ended with a 25th anniversary celebration of the BRIT Trust-funded BRIT School.

A speech by its principal, Stuart Worden, was followed by a wonderful performance of Rodgers & Hart’s classic Manhattan by the BRIT School Choir in a moving tribute to BRIT Trust chair, John Craig OBE, who is standing down from the BPI Council after 28 years’ service.


Media and photo enquiries:

Gennaro Castaldo, BPI +44 (0)20 7803 1326 / +44 (0)7801 194 139

Ken Hunt, DCMS +44 (0)20 7211 6145

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