U.K. Music, the umbrella trade group for the music industry, has published a blueprint that outlines a plan for the British industry to challenge for the position as the world's No. 1 music creator by 2020.

The document, "Liberating Creativity," states that "[it] is our ambition to take on [the U.S.] as the biggest music-producing country in the world." The U.K. was the No. 3 market in the most recent IFPI rankings for recorded music sales globally, behind the U.S. and Japan.

U.K. Music describes the document, which has seven main recommendations, as a call to action for both government and industry. Its main ambition for government is the establishment of a "creative industries Cabinet Committee," to help the development of "coherent and strategic policy-making across government departments, something that is currently lacking."

"Liberating Creativity" states that the U.K. is second only to the U.S. as a source of repertoire. It says that music contributes at least £5 billion ($7.4 billion) a year to the economy of which £1.3 billion ($1.9 billion)
comes from export earnings.

"This country has a phenomenal musical heritage, and our artists are globally-renowned for their innovation and creativity," said Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of U.K. Music, in a statement. "Our ambition is to take what is quite clearly a national asset and for music to be recognized as a great professional industry. With the right support, we can challenge North America and take their crown."

U.K. Music's membership includes labels trade group the BPI, indie labels body AIM and PPL and PRS for Music.

There are recommendations covering access to finance, competition issues, copyright in the digital age and business support. See below for details and a Billboard.biz commentary in key areas.

Policy-making
Establish a creative industries Cabinet Committee made up of ministers and representatives from the creative industries, including the "best and brightest" from the music industry, reporting directly to the prime minister.

Cabinet Committees may make decisions affecting the music industry but they are part of the formal structure of government and their membership is made up of ministers. Industry in general does have formal channels to the prime minister, such as the independent Business Council for Britain, which is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. But U.K. Music may need to come up with another name and outline for its proposal if they do want to be regularly invited to No. 10 Downing Street.

Investment
Create a source of funding to stimulate investment in new talent and support entrepreneurship, and deal with issues surrounding the government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee, for which U.K. Music says music companies are "repeatedly turned down" when applying to the scheme. The industry would also look to create and contribute to a music investment fund and develop lending criteria.

Copyright
Establish a copyright framework with action on digital copyright infringement, reform of the Copyright Tribunal, extending copyright term, and ensuring competition bodies support digital commerce.

There's no surprise that U.K. Music backs the anti-piracy measures in the Digital Economy Bill, which may well get pushed through before a likely May election.

Arts and Business Subsidy
Public spending bodies whose purpose is to support creativity or enterprise in music should consult the commercial music industry on their strategy, according to the document, and channel their spending through music industry initiatives where partnering with the private sector can advance public policy goals.

The Arts Council comes in for some flak here for focusing public money on orchestral music, opera, and jazz, while ignoring urban, rock, and other popular music which "cater for diverse audiences, often struggle for commercial viability, yet have received a fraction of public subsidy in comparison." But unlike European countries and Canada (at least in recent years), there has never been an appetite for subsidy within the U.K. music industry, as enjoyed by the film industry.

Live Music and Rehearsal Spaces
U.K. Music wants to take over the responsibility for setting up a national network of music rehearsal rooms for young people, on which it has been working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. And it calls for an amendment to the Licensing Act 2003 to reduce bureaucracy on small premises wishing to put on live music events.

The government was consulting on exempting venues of under 100 capacity from requirements of the Act, and Lord Clement-Jones had cross-party support for a private member's bill--which U.K. Music wants the government to push through. But the likely May election will likely put any changes on hold.

Music Apprenticeships
Encourages apprenticeship programs developed by the music industry and proposes that U.K. Music develops an accreditation program to meet the needs of both graduates and industry.

Education
U.K. Music wants more music provision for music education at secondary school level, and says it will help broker partnerships between secondary schools and providers, including manufacturers of musical instruments, electronic equipment, sheet music and hardware and software technologies.

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