UK Music urges Boris Johnson to support music industry as Prime Minister

Johnson will take office at 10 Downing Street tomorrow

UK Music have urged the incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support the country’s music industry as he prepares to take office.

Johnson will become the country’s new PM after emerging victorious earlier today (July 23) in the latest race to become the leader of the Conservative Party. He will replace Theresa May, who is set to leave Downing Street tomorrow.

UK Music, an organisation which represents the collective interests of the UK music industry (which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy), have this afternoon called on Johnson to take swift action on the numerous challenges facing the industry while also warning against the threat of a “cliff-edge” Brexit.

Speaking in Brighton, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher praised Johnson’s previous work in regards to the music industry when he served as the Mayor of London (citing the establishment of the Music Venue Taskforce, which paved the way for the “pioneering” London Music Board) and voiced his hope that the new government will work to help improve music education in schools.

“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,” Dugher said in regards to the Copyright Directive.

“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 said that UK Music will continue to support the Musicians’ Union “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”.

“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.”

Boris Johnson

Dugher also spoke about preserving and supporting grassroots music venues, calling for business rate relief to be extended to such venues.

“At present these venues are not eligible for new relief because the Treasury says they are – and I quote – ‘not similar in nature’ to pubs and clubs. This is a nonsense, it’s discriminatory and it’s damaging. Some venues have seen their business rates increase by over 800%,” he said.

“We may have stemmed the tide of venue closures in London recently, thanks to things like Agent of Change, but according to the Music Venues Trust, we have lost 35 per cent of grassroots music venues in the past decade or so. Rectifying this needs to be in the new Chancellor’s in-tray.”

A number of high-profile musicians have spoken out against Johnson since he was confirmed as the UK’s next leader, with the likes of Thom Yorke, Slowthai and Tim Burgess all registering their dismay.