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Robert Ashcroft to step down as Chief Executive of PRS for Music in 2019

Robert Ashcroft has announced that he will step down as Chief Executive of PRS for Music on the tenth anniversary of his appointment, at the end of December 2019.

Under Ashcroft’s leadership, PRS for Music has launched three industry joint ventures: ICE, Network of Music Partners (NMP) and PPL PRS Ltd, each designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of collective rights management.

Robert has also played a major role in the adaptation of European copyright law to the Internet era. His 2010 ‘hubs strategy paper’ was central to the 2014 European Collective Rights Management Directive, while it was his argument about the ‘transfer of value’ that convinced the European Commission that user-upload platforms and other social media should be made liable for copyright.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music, said: “Working for PRS has been by far the most compelling and worthwhile thing I have ever done. It has been a privilege to work on behalf of our members and I would like to thank them, our board, and above all my colleagues, for their support over the years.”

Nigel Elderton, PRS Chairman, said: “Robert has given the organisation a decade of stability and growth, making it the considerable success it is today. He should be rightly proud of his legacy and the health in which he leaves PRS for Music. On behalf of all our members, staff and industry partners I would like to thank Robert for his service and the positive impact he has had.  We wish him every success in the future.”

Crispin Hunt, BASCA Chair, said: “Robert Ashcroft is a visionary leader who has helped guide music across some very wild and unchartered territory. His legacy will likely be felt as widely across its future landscape. A place where ‘value’ will hopefully be ‘transferred’ back to ©reators via robust and effective collective rights –  in no small part due to him.”

New Industry Figures reveal surge in exports, recorded music and jobs in record £4.5BN boost to economy

  • UK Music’s 2018 Measuring Music report reveals UK music industry exports rose by 7% to a record £2.6 billion last year
  • Big rises in recorded music and publishing revenues help fuel export growth
  • Music industry jobs rose by 3% to a new high of 145,815 people
  • The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017

The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017 to contribute a record £4.5 billion to the economy – up by £100 million on 2016, a new report by UK Music reveals today.

UK Music published the findings of its Measuring Music 2018 report today (Thursday November 1) to highlight the scale of the industry’s contribution to the economy.

The flagship annual economic study by UK Music and its members showed that the music industry continued to grow last year across almost every sector.

Among the big success stories were the record music sector which saw a rise of 9% to £700 million and music publishing which grew by 7% to £505 million in 2017.

Successful British acts including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Rag’N’Bone Man, Stormzy, Harry Styles and Depeche Mode helped exports of UK music soar in 2017 by 7% to £2.6 billion.

Millions of fans who poured into concerts ranging from giant festivals to grassroots music venues generated a contribution of live music to the UK’s economy of around £1 billion (£991 million).

UK Music measures the health of the music business each year by collating data from our partners about the industry’s contribution in goods and services, known as Gross Value Added (GVA), to the UK’s national income or Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Exports are part of this contribution.

KEY POINTS FROM MEASURING MUSIC:

(All figures are the music industry’s GVA to the economy in 2017 + the percentage rise on 2016 figures)

  • Whole sector’s contribution to economy – £4.5bn (+2%)
    • Musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists – £2bn (+1%)
    • Recorded music – £700m (+9%)
    • Music publishing – £505m (+7%)
  • Exports (whole sector) – £2.6bn (+7%)
    • Recorded music – £468m (+11%)
    • Music publishing (exports) – £719m (+11%)
    • Music representatives (exports) £348m (+9%) (see footnote)
  • Employment (whole sector) – 145,815(+3%)

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the figures, but delivered a warning about the need to nurture the music industry’s talent pipeline.

Mr Dugher said: “British music brings enjoyment to millions and makes a massive contribution to the UK plc. I’m really proud of the fact that these figures show once again that when it comes to music, we in the UK are very, very good at what we do.

“We are a global leader in music and we continue to grow faster than other parts of the British economy and to punch well above our weight.

“Music exports are a particular British success story and organisations like PRS for Music and PPL, that help ensure creators and investors see a return for their work, have also performed particularly strongly in 2017.

“These figures show what can be achieved when we choose to back the British music industry.

“Every child from every background should have the opportunity to access music, to experience its transformative power and to try out a career in the industry if they want to – regardless of whether or not they have access to the Bank of Mum and Dad.

“That’s why we need further government support to help us ensure we produce the next generation of world-leading British talent by backing music in education, protecting grassroots music venues and making sure that creators are properly rewarded for their work. If we do that, we can be even more successful in the future.”

UK Music chairman Andy Heath said: “We are fortunate that levels of creativity in the music industry are really promising at the moment.

“It is a fantastic time for music-makers and for consumers – both in the variety of music on offer and the different ways that people can choose to listen to music.

“However, there are challenges.  It is difficult in the digital age to break new talent because of the sheer quantity of music out there in a crowded marketplace.

“That difficulty is growing and means brilliant creators have to fight harder than ever to get their music heard.

“In the years ahead, it will be a test to help audiences and consumers differentiate and find the musical gems that make our industry so unique.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: “The report demonstrates continued sustained growth with the music industry now contributing £4.5 billion to the economy. Exports have risen to £2.6 billion and the sector employs 145,815 people.

“2017 was a very successful year globally for the UK music industry. Ed Sheeran’s third album ÷ (Divide) was the biggest selling album of the year. The O2 in London was officially the most popular live music arena in the world. Five of the top ten most successful worldwide tours were from UK acts. 2018 is proving to be no different

“We need to build on these achievements and as the Minister responsible for the creative industries I am firmly committed to doing just that.”

We are ‘disappointed’ as the approval of Sony’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing sets to create a ‘major super power’. The creation of a behemoth entity threatens the ideal of a balanced, diverse and competitive marketplace

BASCA has cited its disappointment following the decision of The European Commission to approve Sony’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, thus creating a ‘major super power’.

This follows BASCA’s independent activity, including campaigning to the Commission and statement of September 28th 2018, outlining its opposition of the potential deal.

Sony is currently the world’s biggest music publisher and second biggest music label. BASCA opposed the now-approved Sony EMI deal in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business, or else combined with smaller music companies, with the ideal of fostering a fair and competitive market for European talent.

BASCA opposed the Sony acquisition of EMI and the creation of a ‘major super power’ to mitigate concerns including: possible dominance in the licensing market, dominant influence on CMO’s, possible further reduction of the share of online royalties payable to creators, the undermining of the future autonomy of Creators’ Rights and the reduction of choice and service for creators.

Commenting on the decision BASCA Chair, Crispin Hunt said: “It is disappointing that this decision will create a behemoth that could hinder balance, diversity and competition for music.

“Sony is a great music company but it is through competition as opposed to oligopoly, we all move towards market success and the innovative future music deserves – online and off – for indies, the self-releasing sector and majors.”

BASCA believes that the creation of a Sony ‘major-superpower’ would limit creator choice and could potentially undermine the future autonomy of Creator Rights.

Sony is seeking approval of the European Commission for its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing. Sony is already the largest music publisher in the world, as well as the second biggest music label. If this sale goes through Sony stand to nearly double their publishing catalogue, growing it from 2.16m to 4.21m compositions, securing a potential hegemony of the global music market. Combined with Sony’s label interests, this merger would effectively create a ‘major-superpower’ with new capability to dominate licensing markets and (via direct online licensing deals) raise serious implications for the autonomy of collective rights management.

Commenting on the pending transaction BASCA Chair, Crispin Hunt said, “At a time when the EU is looking to restore a balanced, diverse and competitive online marketplace for music, to allow the concentration of market leverage in this way seems antithetical to that purpose. As yet, there appears little evidence that the (unchallengeable dogma of the) market-share-music-model will successfully deliver the flourishing musical environment that consumers desire. Sony is a great music company; indeed they acquired, publish and service much of my catalogue. But if we are to heed the economic lessons of ‘too big to fail’, it seems incautious to concede near absolute control of the music market to one player. Setting up the music ecosystem so that it once again runs on competition as opposed to oligopoly is the key to a flourishing market, both online and off.”

A Sony Super-Power could intimidate the creator’s voice and erode the autonomy of collective rights management.

 Creators rely on the transparency, governance and fair distribution of royalties. Collective rights management plays an integral role in ensuring this happens. Improvements are needed to how some CMOs are managed, but the Collective Rights Management Directive in Europe should soon address concerns. However, there is no such regulation over how labels and publishers license, collect and distribute royalties.

Hunt said: “While we recognise the advantage of large music companies in securing value for collective licenses, we also note that large catalogues can exert an asymmetric influence on CMO’s.  Naturally, such catalogues tend to optimise policies for the convenience of the big guys, which could disadvantage the expanding indie and self-releasing sector. The CMO network provides a critical lifeline for most music creators and indie publishers alike. Gigantic catalogues can be good for business — but a Titanic one?”

A super-sized Sony could reduce choice and service for creators

Historically, some creators have found a reduction of service and diligence inevitably accompanies the absorption of catalogue.  Aggregated catalogues, arguably, lack incentive to extract maximum value from each newly acquired work and one-to-one publisher/creator relationships can deteriorate accordingly. Commenting on behalf of the BASCA Songwriters Committee, Helienne Lindvall said, “Creators should expect that their copyrights will be known to the publisher and exploited fully. They should also expect their publishers to work closely with them on a personal level to develop their careers. The opposite has been found to be true for songwriters and composers – including myself – when their rights are transferred from their original publisher to a corporation such as Sony, in merging vast catalogues.”

BASCA is seeking for the Sony transaction to be blocked in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business or else combined with smaller music companies to guarantee a fair and competitive market for European talent.

Whilst commending yesterdays EU Copyright Directive vote result, The UK Council of Music Makers (CMM) launches today comprising of BASCA, the Featured Artist Coalition, the Music Managers Forum, the Music Producers Guild and the Musician’s Union.

The CMM campaigns for a better future for music makers, to ensure that they can thrive in the digital age. The CMM’s mission is to fight for the rights of songwriters, musicians, music producers, music managers, and performing recorded artists that contribute to the music industry’s £4.4bn GVA contribution to the UK economy.

Following the result of the EU Copyright Directive vote, (announced September 12th), the CMM says: “The CMM commends the positive progress made with the vote result. We have supported the activity of our UK and European counterparts on this matter and lobbied at home and in Brussels, to ensure that our message is heard on the importance of the Copyright Directive as an opportunity to modernise the laws and commercial landscape governing how music makers get paid and how music fans engage with music. Music makers bring untold joy and entertainment to the masses. They are significant contributors to culture, as well as providing a grand boost to the economy beyond most other sectors. The CMM believes that the full package of the proposed EU Copyright Directive as a whole will support our community, help modernise the industry, encourage a healthier market with fairness and transparency and promote a sustainable, innovative music business with music makers at its heart. This is vital in ensuring music makers are clearly and adequately remunerated for their work.”

To mark its launch, the CMM teamed up with creative and executive talent at London’s Strongrooms.

Pictured left to right: Top row – Keith Ames (MU), Graham Davies (BASCA), Crispin Hunt (Music maker/BASCA), Fiona McGugan (MMF), Cameron Craig (Producer/Engineer/Mixer/MPG), Frank Carter (Artist), Matt Greer (ATC Management) and Dean Richardson (Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes). Middle row – Andrew Hunt (Record Producer/MPG), Annabella Coldrick (MMF), Jess Iszatt (BBC), Kevin Brennan MP, Dave Rowntree (Musician/FAC), Olga Fitzroy (Recording and Mixing Engineer), Richard Lightman (Producer/Composer/Sound Designer/MPG). Bottom row – Jill Hollywood (Producer manager, Echo Beach Management), Jack Savoretti (Artist), Helienne Lindvall (Songwriter/Musician/BASCA), Ninja (Artist), Issie Barratt (BASCA), Naomi Pohl (MU), Ric Salmon (ATC Management/MMF), Cam Blackwood (Record Producer/MPG). Photo credit: Joanna Dudderidge

As the business of being a music maker continues to evolve, the CMM will continue to campaign for a music ecosystem that is fully fair and fit for purpose – post-Brexit this will be at UK level with government and the IPO, for modernisation of the legal framework.

The CMM is keen to engage partners to collaboratively aid its mission. It calls for government to convene representatives of the rights holders and creators in the music industry, to instigate a thorough discussion on transparency, updating pre-digital era contracts, ensuring contracts are fair, addressing value gaps and inequalities and reviewing revenue flows. The CMM reminds government of its manifesto pledge of; “We will ensure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online.”

Without music and someone to perform it, there is no music business.

BASCA Chair, Crispin Hunt says “As CMM, Music Makers provide the UK with a ‘one stop shop’ forum allowing labels, publishers, innovators,  platforms, politicians or lobbies of any kind to commence constructive dialogue towards the fairer , more accurate, more transparent , more progressive, more innovative , more competitive music marketplace we all seek and the future demands. We look forward to that journey’.  Crispin Hunt Chair BASCA. 

Music Maker / FAC / MyCelia, Imogen Heap, says  “As a Music Maker in the digital era, and as part of CMM, I want to ensure the future is positive, progressive, and flourishing for creators in their development and beyond. The current climate around the economics of streaming and the digital transition of the music business has been hampered by outdated laws and outmoded contracts which can be convoluted, confusing and unfair – particularly for those music makers without the resources to fully understand or challenge them. With collective voice and clout as the CMM, we pledge to take action on such issues with government, working with the IPO and others, to create an economy in which music makers can progress and thrive alongside innovations in technology.”

Record Producer / MPG, Cam Blackwood,  adds: “Music makers are the foundation and the future of the music business. The CMM wants to change the broken economics creatives face. The current model is failing future talent while it is based on the past. The CMM is here to make sure it’s sustainable.”

 

CMM launch – Imogen Heap Message from CouncilofMusicMakers on Vimeo.

 

The European Parliament has voted to support the Copyright Directive, with a landslide victory of 438 votes in favour, 226 against and 39 abstentions. BASCA has been instrumental in making this happen. We have campaigned to bring about a fair copyright environment that stops big tech hiding behind ‘safe harbours’ to avoid taking out a licence and ensure that creators get more transparent and equitable payments.

Ahead of the vote, BASCA and the UK music industry launched major campaign ‘#LoveMusic’ to help fight for the best possible future for everyone who works in the industry and who relies on music to make a living.

Commenting on the success, Chair of BASCA Crispin Hunt said:

“This is a significant victory for music, for journalism, for photography; indeed for art of any kind. The Directive will help re-balance the digital market for music, providing an online framework to ensure the internet once again runs on competition as opposed to oligopoly.

Active platforms like YouTube are now obliged to properly license our work and at a competitive, negotiable, market rate. YouTube is the biggest and arguably the best streaming service on the planet, now it should have to pay like one.

The fight is not over by a long shot, but this victory is a milestone in our movement’s goals. BASCA led the way in this endeavour and was hugely instrumental in the global campaign to re-assert creativity’s sovereignty over those platforms that exploit our work without paying creators fairly. This is a demonstration of the power of our collective voice – join us to strengthen our voice. Congratulations one and all.”

Graham Davies, Interim CEO of BASCA, has commented:

“Creators are powerful when they come together. BASCA mobilised the music creative community and their voice has been listened to. Working with our industry partners we have brought about significant victory. This is the start. We ask more creators to join our movement and strengthen our voice asking for positive change.” 

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ARTICLE 13

Use of protected content by information society service providers storing and giving access to large amounts of works and other subject-matter uploaded by their users:

  1. Information society service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users shall, in cooperation with rightholders, take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders for the use of their works or other subject-matter or to prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightholders through the cooperation with the service providers. Those measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, shall be appropriate and proportionate. The service providers shall provide rightholders with adequate information on the functioning and the deployment of the measures, as well as, when relevant, adequate reporting on the recognition and use of the works and other subject-matter.
  2. Member States shall ensure that the service providers referred to in paragraph 1 put in place complaints and redress mechanisms that are available to users in case of disputes over the application of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.
  3. Member States shall facilitate, where appropriate, the cooperation between the information society service providers and rightholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices, such as appropriate and proportionate content recognition technologies, taking into account, among others, the nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness in light of technological developments.

Two years ago, the European Commission prepared a draft directive “on copyright in the single European market”. This legislation aims to reconcile digital copyright laws throughout the European Union. Under this Directive, creative content on the Internet could flourish and while those who create it could be fairly compensated. Read about the campaign launched by Europe For Creators

 

We need you to Sign the Petition ahead of the EU vote on September 12th
to make the internet fair for creators.

 

We also urge you to take a few minutes to contact your local MEP and…

  1. Introduce who you are and ask for them to approve the Copyright Directive and fix the value gap using Articles 11 and 13.
  2. Explain that some of the global tech giants are laying waste to our creative world, threatening music’s vibrancy and diversity by not fairly compensating creators for the use of their work and that creators need protection, or the world of music will suffer.
  3. Say that you are one of over 37,000 creators from across Europe who have already signed the petition calling on their elected officials to do the right thing.

 

The UK Music industry has united to call on EU members of parliament to secure music’s future. 

Ahead of a crucial vote at the European Parliament on 12 September on the Copyright Directive, which aims to boost the tiny amounts that some tech firms pay out of their enormous profits for music played online, UK Music has launched the #LoveMusic
campaign.

UK Music is fighting for the best possible future for everyone who works in the music industry and who relies on music to make a living. There are some people and tech firms out there trying every trick in the book to block a change that would mean a fairer deal for pretty much everyone in the UK music business.

We need your help to stop that happening and to ensure musicians, creators and everyone in our world-beating music industry are not denied a fair reward for their work. We ask you to sign the petition to support music creators and make the internet fair.

You can read more about the campaign and watch the video below.

Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix join BASCA representatives at the Bulgarian Embassy

BASCA delivers letter to the Bulgarian Ambassador to ask for support in the protection of copyright.

On January 1, 2018, a decade after its accession to the EU, Bulgaria took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU For six months. Bulgaria is now the main driving force for the tasks on the agenda of the Union, performing the functions of an objective mediator and political leader.  Yesterday (13/02/18) BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt, BASCA CEO Vick Bain and members Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix visited the Bulgarian Embassy in West London to personally deliver a letter to the Ambassador and ask for his country’s support for future creativity and culture in Europe.

One of the key priorities on the agenda of the Bulgarian Presidency is the Digital Single Market; in particular copyright legislation which aims to harmonise the essential rights of authors and of performers, publishers and broadcasters.  The EU needs modern copyright rules fit for the digital age. The Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market is the first update of copyright legislation for 20 years.  The European Commission has presented legislative proposals to make sure that consumers and creators can make the most of the digital world and ensure a fairer market place for online content.  BASCA has campaigned consistently for the past few years to ensure that the wording of this legislation will best protect and support songwriters and composers.

BASCA CEO Vick Bain says “The Copyright Directive is in now its final stages and so it is vitally important the voice of the music creators and performers are heard at the highest level.   That is why BASCA organised a meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador in order to ensure our points of concern over the future of music and culture in the EU are delivered directly to the Bulgarian Presidency”.

BASCA member Nitin Sawhney comments “Campaigning to ensure songwriters and composers are protected and can earn a liveable income from digital platforms such as YouTube and Spotify is an essential aspect of the BASCA mandate. In that regard, it was an honour yesterday to meet with the Bulgarian Ambassador and ensure the voice of songwriters and composers was heard in this important debate”.

The letter reads:

Dear Ambassador Dimitrov,

We are writing to you today on behalf of 2,200 of the United Kingdom’s top songwriters and composers to ask for your support in securing the best possible legal framework for the protection of future creativity and culture in Europe. We acknowledge the rich and wonderful musical heritage of the Bulgarian people and know you will share a common interest in wishing to protect it.

Music is an essential expression of European cultural identity and a robust copyright regime, coupled with strong accountability across all Creator Rights, is essential if the EU is to protect musicians and composers. Europe’s creative industries have flourished because we have had sensible laws in place to allow a fair and competitive market for content; but the growing domination of the digital environment means those laws are now in urgent need of modernising. One of your stated priorities for the presidency is the Digital Single Market. The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is that opportunity for modernisation.

In 2015, YouTube accounted for 40% of overall online music consumption but only 4% of revenue. They claim to have paid out $1billion to music industry last year, but that only equates to $1 per user per year. Compare that to the $17 per user per annum returned from streaming services like Spotify and you begin to see the inequity in the market. After a 20% cut from Google Ads YouTube takes another 45% of all advertising income on its platform. The owners of the video and the sound recording share the remainder with finally, songwriters and composers, getting a fraction of the revenue their work generates. And that is only if the works attract advertising; where there is no direct advertising then the creator gets nothing. YouTube is arguably the biggest and probably the best streaming service on the planet, yet it avoids paying properly for the content it serves by exploiting an outdated legal loophole that fails to reflect contemporary consumption habits; Safe Harbour. That is why YouTube is valued at over $70bn yet EU composers and songwriters have to share a fraction of $0.0007 per stream.

Likewise, with Facebook. Last year Forbes valued Facebook at over $400 billion, the 6th most valuable company in the world. Last year they declared over $35 billion in advertising revenue and over 2 billion monthly users of the service. Facebook are only now concluding licensing deals with the major record labels and publishers; yet music has been a key driver of their platform offer for years. We are not privy to the terms of the deal for the majors because of non-disclosure agreements but independent publishers have suggested the licenses are being constructed in such a way to avoid liability or ultimately to pay royalties.

In the Copyright Directive we have a chance to make these platforms secure proper licensing deals for all music used on their service through Article 13. This is a once in a generation opportunity to correct the ‘value gap’; the gap between how much value the platforms take from music and the value returned to the creators for the use of their works.. The Bulgarian Presidency is working on a compromise for Article 13; creators prefer the option that clarifies that the platforms, or online content sharing service providers, such as YouTube and Facebook ‘communicate to the public’ and for the Safe Harbour limitation to be more focused. This will bring them into the music value chain and will correct the drain of the value of European cultural talent and return any benefit to Europe.

There are also other measures in place in the Directive in Articles 14, 15 and 16 that are essential for the future protection of creators and citizen creators and to strengthen their negotiating power to achieve a fairer and more balanced marketplace for their work. The Directive has acknowledged the often-insurmountable difference in power between an individual composer and an international broadcast company in contractual negotiations for their works. These will go some way to correcting this power imbalance and include further obligations towards transparency, a contract adjustment mechanism (in case of a failure to exploit or proportionately share the rewards of success) and a dispute resolution system.

Now Bulgaria is leading the Council’s work; your support for the sensible and timely creator friendly reforms included in this Directive is crucial to maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment for the entire European musical community. As your chosen motto states ‘United We Stand Strong’, we at BASCA certainly hope that Bulgaria will unite with the Creators of Europe to ensure that we can indeed continue to stand strong in the Global Creative Market.

 

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