UK Music CEO urges Boris Johnson to avoid 'cliff-edge' Brexit

UK Music CEO urges Boris Johnson to avoid 'cliff-edge' Brexit

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has delivered a warning on a “cliff-edge” Brexit, as Boris Johnson prepares to enter Downing Street as PM.

In a keynote speech at the Musicians’ Union conference in Brighton today (July 23), Dugher outlined the areas where Johnson should act to safeguard the music industry, which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

Dugher praised Johnson’s work as Mayor of London, when he established the Music Venue Taskforce, which paved the way for the “pioneering” London Music Board.

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.

“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,” he said. “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% in the number of pupils taking A-Level Music. 50% of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, whilst the figure for state schools is only 15%."

He added: “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.”

Dugher said in his speech that UK Music would “gently remind” Johnson that supporting the Copyright Directive was the policy of the government when he was Foreign Secretary.

“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,” said Dugher.

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

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.”

Dugher also highlighted key issues including support for grassroots venues and diversity across the creative industries.

To read the Music Week report on the industry’s hopes and fears for the Johnson premiership, subscribers can click here.

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