GEOFF Taylor, the chief executive officer of record label trade body, the BPI, who also oversees the BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize, has announced his intention to move on in 2023 to a more directly commercial role, after 25 years working for label associations, including more than 15 years leading the BPI.
In that time, Geoff has helped the recorded music industry navigate a significant period of digital transformation as CD sales were cannibalised by P2P, downloads were replaced by streaming and the industry responded to the twin challenges of Brexit and the pandemic.
A former General Counsel at global trade body IFPI, Geoff helped secure industry and UK government support for the extension of copyright term and led the BPI’s strategy to reduce online music piracy.
This included blocking access to major illegal P2P and stream ripping sites, negotiating changes to global policies with Google, Facebook and online advertising networks to demote illegal sites and cut their funding and instigating the BPI’s search delisting programme, which has removed more than one billion infringing music links from search results. The music piracy rate in the UK is now the third lowest in the world.
Pursuing the BPI’s mission to promote British music, Geoff oversaw the BRIT Awards’ move to the O2 and its long-term strategy to extend digital engagement, global reach and revenues – in the process raising more than £15 million for industry charity, The BRIT Trust – and producing successful annual shows, including through the pandemic.
He steered the acquisition by the BPI in 2015 of the prestigious Mercury Prize, an award which is particularly important to the independent sector and, seeing the potential for the global growth of British music, championed the creation by government of the Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS), run by the BPI, which has awarded more than £4 million in grants to UK independent labels and artists, supporting UK music exports which have doubled since 2011 to almost £600 million.
Indie representation at the BPI has strengthened substantially, with significant independents such as Partisan, Dirty Hit, Good Soldier and Marathon joining and total membership expanding to over 500 music companies.
Geoff has played a key role since 2007 overseeing the industry’s relationship with government, including recently with DCMS on the economics of music streaming and the related Competition & Markets Authority market study, and with other industry bodies and commercial partners, and is now leading industry engagement with DfE to establish a new BRIT School in the North, after years as a governor for the BRIT School and the East London Academy of Music.
He led the creation of the BRITs Apprentice Scheme in 2017, providing funded apprenticeship opportunities across the music industry to young people from diverse backgrounds.
Geoff Taylor, CEO of BPI, said: “It has been a great privilege to lead the BPI during such a transformational period for British music. With a new chair appointed and our 50th anniversary next year, it feels like BPI is opening a new chapter.
“After much reflection, I have decided that running the BPI for 15 years is enough for any moderately sane individual and that now is the time to use my experience more directly in a commercial environment. I have agreed to stay on until early 2023 to help our new chair, YolanDa Brown, find an appropriate successor.
“I want to thank the brilliant team at the BPI, former Chair Ged Doherty, and our independent and major members for their wisdom, good humour and steadfast support. I wish YolanDa and all the members continuing success.”
Tony Harlow, CEO of Warner Music UK, added: “Geoff’s insightful and forward-thinking leadership benefited the industry as it navigated huge challenges over the last 15 years.
“His argument that copyright must be respected online helped secure a sustainable and growing music industry in our country, one that has created global success for artists such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Dua Lipa.
“He was the driving force behind the BPI’s successful strategies to reduce music piracy and policies to support British music such as the Music Export Growth Scheme.
“Geoff expertly steered The BRIT Awards, keeping the show modern and relevant, while raising vital funds for The BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins.
“Warner Music is very grateful to Geoff for his unwavering commitment to ensuring music remains one of this country’s greatest success stories.”
Jason Iley MBE, chair and CEO of Sony Music UK, commented: “The music industry has gone through enormous change in the past 15 years and in that time Geoff has led the BPI with a tight grip on the big issues.
“The whole industry has benefitted from the BPI’s work combatting piracy, campaigning for export funding, running the BRIT and Mercury prizes to showcase artists and supporting music education. It takes real tenacity to lead an organisation for so long through rapid digital disruption – we wish Geoff the very best and thank him for his tireless advocacy for British music.”
Jamie Oborne, founder and MD at leading independent, Dirty Hit, said: “Geoff has been a powerful advocate for our sector and has always made sure the interests of independents are promoted at the BPI.
“We’ve seen the benefits at Dirty Hit, with our artists winning MEGS export funding and gaining significant profile through the Mercury Prize and The BRITs. The BPI’s free training and international support for indies have also expanded massively. We’re very sad to see him leave but know he‘ll continue to make a big contribution to the business.”
David Joseph CBE, chair and CEO of Universal Music UK, commented: “Geoff’s calm leadership, insight and dedicated work in support of labels right across the country as well as the BRIT Trust have been constants in a period of enormous change for the music business. He has made a significant contribution to our industry, for which we are hugely grateful, and we wish him all the very best for when he sets off in his new direction next year.”
YolanDa Brown, new chair of BPI, said: “Geoff will forever be part of the BPI family. He will leave a tremendous legacy with many exceptional achievements and a strong team in place. I am grateful that he is staying with us to ensure a smooth transition and wish him all the best on his onward journey. I know we will enjoy our time working to ensure the future success of the BPI.”
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