On the same day that Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to call a surprise snap election, umbrella trade organization UK Music has outlined five key priorities for the incoming government to support and strengthen the British music industry.
Chief among them is tighter regulation around copyright and greater financial investment, including higher tax breaks for music companies. The action plan was prepared in response to the Government's industrial strategy green paper, which was first unveiled in January and outlined 10 'Pillars' for boosting Britain's economy post-Brexit.
Interested parties and trade organizations were given three months to submit responses to the green paper. Coincidentally, UK Music happened to publish their findings on the same day that Theresa May did a headline-grabbing political u-turn and announced her plans for a summer election.
If approved by MPs in a House of Commons vote, the British population will go to the polls on June 8, less than a year after the country made the historic decision to leave the EU.
The surprise news led UK Music to issue a statement calling on all political parties to "deliver an industrial strategy which works for the music industry."
The five priorities it outlines - intellectual property, skills and education, finance and investment, international action and regional development - are particularly important in light of the U.K.'s forthcoming exit from the European Union, it warns.
"The withdrawal from the European Union provides an opportunity for the U.K. to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual property law," argue UK Music, calling for stronger protection from piracy and, in particular, stream ripping services such as YouTubemp3.org that convert music streams into unlicensed downloads.
"[The intellectual property framework] provides a backbone to our commercial success and endeavours. Growth would be severely inhibited if copyright is not protected or its value not recognised," the 14 page document goes on to say.
UK Music also calls for government assistance in bolstering music copyright data and tracking infrastructure to ensure rights holders are paid fairly, as well as increased tax breaks for music companies.
"The music industry should benefit from the same level of fiscal support that film and video games enjoy," says the organization, identifying the introduction of tax credits for artists recording music in the U.K. as one way to boost the country's music economy and support the development of new artists.
Similar enterprises already exist in the U.S., Canada and France notes UK Music and without them the British music industry "risks falling behind." Once established, music tax credits could potentially be extended for other music activities, including touring and videos.
Of equal, if not greater importance, is the freedom to trade internationally post-Brexit and ensure that British music and artists are not "subject to restrictive quotas" or that touring acts are impeded from playing in Europe by punitive visa restrictions.
Extending its recommendations across the Atlantic, UK Music additionally calls on the government to address the 'bars and grills' exception that means many U.S. businesses don't have to pay for the use of music, unlike in the U.K. and many European markets.
"Under U.S copyright law, a variety of issues prevent the U.K. (and international) music industry from benefiting from the use of music," the document states, drawing attention to consent decrees between ASCAP, BMI and the Department of Justice that were first agreed in 1941 and "do not reflect the market situation in 2017."
Existing U.S. copyright law that prevents producers of sound recordings from receiving royalty payments from terrestrial broadcasts and FM radio should also be addressed when negotiating a trade deal with the U.S., says UK Music, regardless of who is in Number 10 Downing Street come the summer.