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Boris Johnson must support music industry as Brexit and music education top new PM’s in-tray- warns UK Music CEO

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher called on new Tory leader and incoming PM Boris Johnson to take swift action on a range of challenges facing the UK music industry and delivered a strong warning over the threat of a “cliff-edge” Brexit.

In a keynote speech at the Musicians’ Union conference in Brighton today (Tuesday), Mr Dugher outlined the areas where Mr Johnson should act to safeguard the music industry which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

His intervention came just moments after the former Foreign Secretary was revealed as the new Conservative leader after defeating Jeremy Hunt in the run-off for the top job.

Mr Dugher praised Mr Johnson’s work as Mayor of London when he established the Music Venue Taskforce which paved the way for the “pioneering” London Music Board which has driven important victories under his successor Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The UK Music chief highlighted the key issues which the new Tory leader must confront as he prepared to move into Downing Street.

Mr Dugher’s comments came as the Government today gave its backing to a number of key UK Music policies in its response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report on the live music industry.

Music In Education
Mr Dugher said:
“Whilst we have made a little progress in terms of engaging with the Department for Education, the truth is music in education remains in a perilous state.

“Reversing the decline of music in state education must be a major priority for our new Prime Minister.  We desperately need more action from Government.”

“OFQUAL statistics on the number of entries between 2014 and 2019 show a decline of 30 per cent in the number of pupils taking A-Level Music.

“50 per cent of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, whilst the figure for state schools is only 15 per cent.

“As part of what ministers call a “refresh” of the National Plan for Music Education, the new Government should establish a universal access to music principle within state education. That every child from every background should have access to music in their education - not just those who can access the Bank of Mum and Dad.

“If we don’t sort out music in our state education, as an industry and as a country, when it comes to the talent pipeline, we are in danger of drawing water from a well that’s getting smaller and smaller.”

Copyright Directive
Mr Dugher said in his speech that UK Music would “gently remind” Mr Johnson that supporting the Copyright Directive was the policy of the Government when he was Foreign Secretary.
Mr Dugher said:
“The Government must stand up for music creators when faced with the likes of Google who continue to make billions of dollars by exploiting the content made by others without paying fair rewards to music creators.”

“I was really proud of our successful #LoveMusic campaign and I make no apology for continuing to take the fight to big tech - and I want to thank the MU for all of its support.

“The Copyright Directive presents an important potential opportunity to address the value gap and UK Music remains committed to its implementation.

“Yet we know that with a ‘no deal’ Brexit and without a transitional phase or the withdrawal agreement, implementation of the Copyright Directive won’t happen.

“That’s why UK Music has called on the Government to set out an urgent roadmap to spell out how it will implement that Directive in the event of a no deal Brexit.”

On Brexit, Mr Dugher urged Mr Johnson to avoid throwing the UK Music industry over a Brexit cliff.

Mr Dugher said:
“We will continue to support the MU and your members to highlight the need for touring artists and musicians to be able to move freely without the kind of cost and bureaucracy that, frankly, could make playing across Europe simply not viable for so many UK musicians. Equally, our studios, festivals and venues need to be able to bring in talent from the EU.
“My explicit message to our new Government on Brexit is this – you may be prepared to see a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of October. You may be happy to leap off the edge of a cliff, but please, please don’t throw the British music industry over there with you.”

Rate Relief For Venues
In his speech Mr Dugher also outlined the importance of supporting grassroots music venues, saying:
“On venues, we are calling for business rate relief to be extended to include small grassroots music venues. At present these venues are not eligible for new relief because the Treasury says they are - and I quote - “not similar in nature” to pubs and clubs. This is a nonsense, it’s discriminatory and it’s damaging.  Some venues have seen their business rates increase by over 800 per cent.

“We may have stemmed the tide of venue closures in London recently, thanks to things like Agent of Change, but according to the Music Venues Trust, we have lost 35 per cent of grassroots music venues in the past decade or so.

"Rectifying this needs to be in the new Chancellor’s in-tray.”


Mr Dugher concluded his speech to the Musicians’ Union with a “final, really important ask of our new Government”.

The UK Music CEO said:
“Working in music must be inclusive to all.

At present 34 per cent of creative industries workers are self-employed, compared to 15 per cent of the working population. In music, performing and visual arts, its 61 per cent.

“They are, however, not eligible for shared parental leave. The next Government must back the #SelfieLeave campaign. Failure to do so will continue to institutionalise an inequality between men and women that has a serious impacts on our industry.

“Working with the MU, UK Music remains deeply committed to improving diversity within our workforce. We will continue to survey and report on BAME and female representation. As our Diversity Report, published last December made clear, yes progress has been made in recent years but with we still have much, much more work needed to be truly representative.

“That’s why as a member of the Creative Industries Council, I was pleased earlier this month to sign a new Diversity Charter on behalf of UK Music and our members to improve diversity across the creative industries.”

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