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UK Music CEO urges PM Boris Johnson to protect music industry in Whitehall

Outgoing UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has urged the Government to ensure the music industry is protected amid speculation about a forthcoming overhaul of Whitehall departments.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering proposals that could see the reorganisation of different departments including the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), according to media reports.

The Department for Exiting the European Union is also expected to be abolished following the UK’s planned departure from the EU at the end of January.

Mr Dugher urged the PM to ensure that music industry, which contributes £5.2 billion a year to the British economy, was protected in the expected revamp of Government departments.

He said any changes should bring the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) - which currently sits within BEIS - and music together under one departmental roof.

Mr Dugher, a former Downing Street adviser who became Shadow Culture Secretary during his time as a Labour MP, also stressed the importance of continuity to help safeguard the UK music industry and music exports.

The UK music industry generates £2.7 billion in export revenues each year and is the third largest music market in the world. In nine of the last 15 years, the biggest-selling album in the world has been from a UK artist. The UK is ranked number two in the world for soft power.

Mr Dugher said: “It is vital that the forthcoming changes to Government departments safeguard the future of our world-leading music industry which makes such an important contribution to our economy at home and our soft power overseas.

“Whilst we should not underestimate music’s role in cultural terms, my fear is that the music industry could get left behind with the museums and art galleries in some kind of emaciated ‘heritage’ department.

“Music has always been stuck between a rock and a hard place: whilst UK Music has made huge progress, too many in Whitehall still don’t appreciate that music is an economic powerhouse on a par, and indeed bigger, than many other great British industries; at the same time, there are still too many arts snobs who don’t see music, and in particular popular music, as a ‘proper’ art.

“The music business must be at the top table of the Government’s industrial strategy.

“Bringing intellectual property and music together in one department would be a natural fit and simplify policy-making. It would also send a powerful signal about the fundamental importance of IP to our industry.”

“It is critical that the music industry gets some much-needed continuity from the Government. I have dealt with four DCMS Secretaries of State and many different ministers in under three years as UK Music CEO.

“We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan and DCMS Minister Nigel Adams has been a superb minister who has displayed tremendous support for our industry. We need that strong relationship to continue the success story of our industry.”

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