The pertinent issue of stronger government support for the music and creative industries was addressed from two opposing viewpoints in London on Wednesday (June 5).
Speaking at the annual general meeting of U.K. licensing body PPL, which took place at London's Kings Place and saw the organization report record yearly revenue of £170.8 million ($261.9 million) (up 11%), PPL chairman Fran Nevrkla called for increased support from government and politicians in protecting intellectual property rights and, in turn, the music and creative industries.
Referencing Martin Mills’ Billboard Industry Icon Award speech at this year’s Midem, in which the Beggars Group founder condemned “the lack of support that governments, politicians and bureaucrats worldwide show to the creative industries,” Nevrkla said that one of the music business' major challenges going forward was combating “the still prevailing mind-set of many who value that somehow or other music should be available for free in the 21st century.”
“This singular approach is often exacerbated by the rather naive, ignorant and, at times, hostile views, comments and recommendations from learned academics and many others,” Nevrkla went on to say. He later added that while “there are many high powered politicians in parliament… who completely understand the crucial importance of IP rights to the British and global economy” it was necessary to question “the mind-sets and the level of real understanding on the part of the current coalition government, who seem to be so much in love with the huge and powerful players in the new media environment, who, of course, play virtually no taxes in this country [and yet] remain the darlings of the government.”
“I would like to say to some of our politicians, especially to the government of today, wake up before it is truly is too late and before all the creative industries, not just the music business, become decimated like so many industries and services before us,” Nevrkla went on to say before commencing the formalities of PPL’s 79th AGM, which included changes in its board structure.
He didn’t have to wait long to get an (indirect) response from U.K. power brokers. Appearing as guest of honor at BPI’s “Raise The Roof” event -- which was held later that evening at Kensington’s Roof Gardens, London, to celebrate BPI’s 40th anniversary -- British prime minister David Cameron delivered a short, but well-received speech congratulating the U.K. music industry for its historic and continued global success.
“This is a massively important industry,” Cameron told the audience, which was made up of senior music execs, U.K. label heads and invited media. “Today we are in a global race. There are some countries that are going to make it in that global race and there are some that won’t. I think Britain can be a success story, but we will only succeed if we invest in and back those industries where we have a real competitive edge and competitive advantage. Your industry is one of those,” he went on to say, citing the U.K.’s success in exporting music talent around the globe and singling out One Direction and Mumford & Sons for individual praise.
He continued: “We want you as industry to tell us what you need in terms of backing and help. I can’t promise that we’ll be able to deliver all the things that you want. We have already been able to make some progress. We have extended copyright [term] from fifty years to seventy years… [Now] we need to do more to tackle piracy. We need to do more to make sure that the music industry can succeed. Tell us what you need from us and we will try and deliver for you.”
In a jokey aside, Cameron also made reference to the highly publicized rebuttal he received from The Smiths founder members Morrissey and Johnny Marr after the prime minister declared that he was a fan of the seminal Manchester indie band. “Obviously, it’s been something of a music crisis year for me because Morrissey and Johnny Marr have said that I’m not allowed to listen to The Smiths anymore,” he said, “So I’ve been trying to find other things that I am allowed to listen to.”