UK Music Appoints Tom Watson As New UK Music Chair

30/03/2020: UK Music has appointed former Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson as the new chair of UK Music.

He succeeds outgoing chair Andy Heath CBE and will start in April at UK Music, the umbrella body for the whole of the commercial music industry.

Tom Watson was Shadow Culture Secretary and Labour Party Deputy Leader.  After almost two decades as an MP - including roles as a Government Minister in two departments - he stood down from Parliament at the General Election in December 2019. 

He was appointed by the Board of UK Music following an extensive recruitment process.

Mr Watson said his top priority would be fighting to secure maximum support for the music industry to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and help return the sector to growth as soon as possible.

Tom Watson said:

“UK Music speaks with a powerful voice for the whole of the UK commercial music sector. And at the heart of the sector are the songwriters and musicians, many thousands of whom stand ready to serve in the national effort against the coronavirus.

“In ordinary times, the UK’s commercial music sector contributes £5.2 billion to the UK economy and supports 190,000 jobs. The cancellation of live music events has devastated the sector. Thousands of jobs are now in peril and threaten the long-term bottom line of the UK economy.

“Our urgent task is to work with our colleagues and partners in Government to support the national effort to defeat coronavirus, whilst protecting the jewel in the crown of British culture - commercial music.

“When we’re through this crisis, UK Music has an important part to play in Britain’s developing new role in the world. We believe we can be the Prime Minister's calling card to every country on the planet.

“There will be much to say about this in the months ahead but first, let’s deal with this crisis. I will be seeking urgent talks with ministers and officials to ensure that we support the music-makers of Britain and the industry that always sustains us through the good times and the bad.”

On Andy Heath, Watson said:

“Andy Heath has been UK Music’s ambassador to Government for over a decade. He is a towering figure in the industry and highly respected in Whitehall. I’m deeply honoured to be thought worthy enough to replace him as chair of UK Music.

“Andy has been at the heart of making UK Music the powerful force it is, and we are immensely grateful for his years of service in his role as founding Chair. I am greatly relieved to know that he has agreed to work with me during a lengthy transition period, which means we can draw down on his vast experience and wisdom in this most testing of times for the industry.”

Welcoming the appointment, Andy Heath said:

“I’m delighted Tom Watson is the new chair of UK Music. I’m sure he will continue to be a fantastic advocate for the music industry and fight for its future at what is an immensely difficult time.

“I’m hugely proud of all we have achieved at UK Music. We have created a strong and united voice for the music industry that is listened to right across Westminster and the business world.

“Tom is one of the great political leaders of his generation and I know he will take UK Music from strength to strength and help continue to grow our fantastic industry.

“No-one should underestimate his passion for and knowledge of both the music that has been created in the UK and the industry that has served it."

UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl remains in his role during the recruitment process for a new CEO.

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