Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA addressed the AGM 16 Sep 2021
It was 2004 when I first took the reins at ERA having joined two years previously as Business Development Director.
Since then we have been through the decline of physical formats in the face of piracy. We have seen the disappearance of legendary names in entertainment retailing like Woolworths, Our Price and Tower. And we’ve seen the miraculous rebirth of entertainment with the emergence of digital services, the revival of vinyl and the incredible rebirth of the independent sector.
And yet, nothing, but nothing, prepared us for the past 18 months.
Lockdowns, homeworking, the closure of shops, cinemas and the concert business, the level of disruption has been off-the-scale.
But the way you collectively responded more than met the challenge.
The response of ERA’s members has been dynamic proof that crisis is the best test of character. Even after 19 years working with you all, I was taken aback by the efforts you made, the mountains you moved, to keep on keeping on.
I am enormously proud of you, ERA’s members and the ERA team, who rose to the challenge like never before.
Lockdown clearly played a part in the growth of entertainment sales to an all-time high of £9.3bn but much of the groundwork for its success had been laid before lockdown. The constant innovation from our streaming services underpinned huge growth in these sectors but high street retail also rose to the challenge, many shops pivoting online almost overnight.
Particularly in music where the closure of the live music business devastated the incomes of many artists, your work in keeping the recorded music business going provided a financial lifeline to many.
Congratulations to all of you. You can be very proud of what you did.
Research and Insight underpins much of ERA’s activity. The ERA voice is sought out more than ever before by journalists and the media. As we have often said, key to our credibility as a voice of entertainment retail is that we tell it how it is and we underpin all of our PR with real industry data and analysis.
A vital element of this is our joint venture with the BPI, the Official Charts Company, who continue to provide best in class music and video data to both our members and the wider industry. This data has been further improved with the addition of VOD data for video, making our weekly reporting to members even more valuable.
Our industry-standard data from Official Charts and GfK and GSD for games is supplemented by ERA’s own 2,000 strong consumer panel allowing us to deep dive consumer behaviour on a quarterly basis.
If insight is the bedrock of what we do, the other guiding force in our advocacy for the sector is the ERA Manifesto, whose principles continue to guide everything that ERA does.
- Maintaining diversity – which is key to maximising consumer access and choice and driving engagement
- Sustainability – fairly rewarding digital services and retailers for their role in the entertainment ecosystem
- Enabling licensing – without which services cannot innovate further
- Modernising the supply chain
- And at the forefront of everything that ERA does – putting the consumers and creators at the forefront of it all
An opportunity to test out those principles and the effectiveness of ERA as a lobbying organisation came with the recent DCMS Select Committee enquiry into music streaming.
This was the most forensic investigation of the music industry in a generation. It began with our members very much in the firing line, but we confidently articulated the huge benefits ERA members have delivered both to music fans and to the music industry.
I am glad to say the committee’s report overwhelmingly accepted our analysis. Our work to address misconceptions about streaming continues, but so far I am delighted to say that both ERA and the sector have acquitted themselves well.
PR and advocacy lies at the heart of what we do and that means taking the ERA voice wherever we can get a hearing.
I am not sure I will ever get used to getting up at 4am for a star turn on BBC Radio 5Live’s Wake Up To Money, but we are committed to speaking out for our members wherever and whenever we can.
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