Progressive Year For Brit Record Biz

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) executive chairman Peter Jamieson today (July 7) heralded what he described as a year of "remarkable progress" for the local record industry but warned against slac

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) executive chairman Peter Jamieson today (July 7) heralded what he described as a year of "remarkable progress" for the local record industry but warned against slackening.

In an upbeat presentation during the trade body's annual general meeting (AGM) in London, Jamieson highlighted a string of lobbying inroads made at a ministerial level.

"We have a seachange of government understanding but their resolve must not weaken if and when we step up the fight against individuals who steal our music," he said.

Jamieson pointed to the launch yesterday of the government's "Music Manifesto" on music education as an example of high-level commitment to the music business. He also heralded the creation of the recent initiative by the government to create an IP forum representing all the sectors of British creative industries.

"I have no doubt that this government now gets the importance to Britain of its creative industries in general and the music industry in particular," Jamieson noted.

In the same spirit, British filmmaker David Puttnam -- who was invited by the BPI to deliver the AGM’s keynote speech -- called on the music industry to bolster its commitment to forging relationships with the government.

Puttnam, who spearheaded such productions as "Chariots of Fire" and "the Killing Fields", said not enough had been done in recent years to educate the government on the impact of the music business.

"No industry in Britain can afford not to engage the government," Puttnam said. "You must put the input in to get the output. Get the message out."

While contending that the record industry had taken strides toward embracing opportunities in the digital space, Jamieson urged labels to preserve their margins to safeguard the digital business. In particular, Jamieson suggested that the license terms offered by Apple for its European iTunes Music Stores brought potential dangers.

"We applaud [Apple Computers CEO] Steve Jobs' view that his biggest competitor is piracy and his investment in the online retailing of music is significant," Jamieson commented. "But the potential dominance in the short term of this new market by Apple has to be of concern.”

Jamieson added, “No less worrying is the apparent desire of Apple the music retailer also to set the wholesale price - unprecedented in the marketing of music. It is not for the BPI to enquire or comment on the commercial deals of its members but few have, for example, expressed delight with the terms offered by Apple.”

Jamieson's comments back those of his counterpart Alison Wenham, CEO of British independent labels body AIM. During the recent AIM AGM, Wenham told its respective members to collectively hold out on licensing content to the recently launched iTunes service in Europe.

Also during today's meeting, recently-appointed BPI general counsel Geoff Taylor gave an update on the trade body's measures to counter online piracy.

Since launching an awareness campaign in March using instant-messenger (IM) services to warn illegal file-sharers to cease and desist or face court action, more than 215,000 such messages have been sent, Taylor said.

“If major uploaders continue, BPI will take legal action,” warned Taylor.

During the formal business of the meeting, John Craig, managing director of first Night Records; Steve Mason, MD of Liberty Bell Productions and Pete Waterman, chairman of PWL Empire, were elected as independent representatives of the council. Sony Music chairman/CEO Rob Stringer and Warner Music U.K. chairman Nick Phillips were re-elected as major label representatives.

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