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UK Music Wrapped: 2023 Highlights Championing The Music Industry 

14.12.2023: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl takes a look back at our work in 2023 to champion and support the music industry. 

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14.12.2023: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl takes a look back at our work in 2023 to champion and support the music industry. 

As 2023 nears an end, we’ve taken a look back on the last 12 months and our work at UK Music to champion and support our world-leading music industry.  

It’s been a critical year, marked with some notable successes along the way, but with a host of looming challenges on the horizon for 2024.  

We saw our sector bounce back after the devastating impact of COVID-19, with the UK music industry now employing a record 210,000 people and contributing an all-time high of £6.7 billion to the economy, while music exports hit record levels and generated £4 billion in revenue.  

All the figures were captured in our annual economic report, This Is Music, published in November and launched in conjunction with the Department for Business and Trade’s International Trade Week with a fantastic panel discussion on exports.  

We also threw our largest summer party yet and hosted a reception for Eurovision at the House of Lords, attended by the Ukraine Ambassador. 

Tom with British band Toploader holding the UK Music’s Manifesto for Music.

Artificial Intelligence 

However, while this was positive news, our focus this year was mainly on a new challenge facing the music industry – AI.  

We wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to warn how AI technologies are trained on copies of music without the consent of artists – or paying them for using their work.  

We ran a sustained media campaign highlighting how using creators and rightsholders’ work in this way was tantamount to “music laundering”, which saw us talking to broadcast and print media including the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, the Daily Mail and a host of others about the issue. 

With members we developed a position paper, which outlined the music industry’s key concerns – creators’ choice, record keeping, human copyright, labelling and personality rights. 

To hammer home the message at Westminster, we gave evidence at the Science, Technology and Innovation Committee inquiry on the governance of AI, briefed MPs ahead of Commons debate, and we wrote a piece for The House magazine – a key read for Whitehall policymakers.  

In September, we took a delegation of our members to Number 10 Downing Street to make the case at the highest level about the potential threat AI poses to the music industry. 

UK Music and member representatives outside of Number 10 Downing Street after talking AI.

The work paid off with the Government’s confirmation that it would scrap a proposal to allow a broad copyright exception for text and data mining purposes – a great result and a testament to all the campaigning by UK Music members, however work continues to ensure all key concerns are addressed.

Music Education and Skills 

Another key focus for UK Music in 2023 was music education, which is vital to maintaining our talent pipeline 

Our Chair Lord Watson wrote a piece outlining the importance of music education for HuffPost on why urgent action was needed to tackle the decline in music teaching.  

We were invited to join the National Music Education Plan monitoring board so we could feed into Government strategy.  

As part of our Music Academic Partnership (MAP) scheme with leading academic institutions, UK Music spoke at over 20 institutions about how students could get a career in music. We also announced our winner of the Outstanding MAP Graduate Awards 2023, and for the first time recognised the lecturers as well. We also welcomed new academic institutions to the partnership.  

All the nominees of the Outstanding MAP Graduate Award, with UK Music’s Oliver Morris and UK Music Futures Group Advisor Sandie Shaw.

We also worked with many education partners, including Discover Creative Careers, with which we worked to highlight the variety of careers in the music industry to young people.  

Power of Music 

Following publication in 2022 of our Power of Music report, we continued to highlight how vital music is to the nation’s health and called on the Government to establish a Power of Music Commissioner to champion the cause.  

Former Eurovision winner Sandie Shaw took up the cause for us, writing a piece for The Times about how the new Commissioner would champion the benefits of music for health and co-ordinate work between the government, health and social care sectors and the music industry. 

We also welcomed the launch of Music Can, a new website developed by Universal Music, which is a hub of resources for carers and support workers to feel confident about using music as part of their care, and the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s Power of Music Fund, to support grassroots dementia choirs and music groups.  

Diversity and Inclusion 

Promoting diversity and inclusion across the music industry remained a top priority for UK Music in 2023.  

We introduced the Meet The Campaigners web series, which we promoted some of the fantastic EDI initiatives in the music industry. 

We continue to support the formation of the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA), which will uphold and improve standards of behaviour in the creative industries by tackling all forms of bullying and harassment.  

We helped with the development of Creative UK’s It’s NOT OK bullying and harassment resource hub and gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into the music industry.  

We continued to host meetings for our Diversity Taskforce, who advise us on issues relating to diversity and inclusion.  

Former UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin speaking on UK Music’s Here, There and Everywhere report at Culture Liverpool’s Modern Music Cities: A Eurovision Legacy Conference in Liverpool.

Regional 

We also highlighted the value of music tourism to the economy, which stretches into every corner of the UK and attracts visitors from across the world.  

In July, we published a major report, Here, There and Everywhere, that demonstrated that music tourism contributed £6.6 billion to the UK economy.  

We coupled its publication with a special Music Powerhouse Toolkit, devised to outline to local authorities and others how they can capitalise on the value of music tourism, supporting music spaces, helping music thrive in their communities, boosting jobs and economic growth.  

We also welcomed eight new members to the UK Music Futures Group, to help us understand more about young workers lived experience within the music industry across the UK.  

EU Touring and Working  

However, there remain significant challenges facing our sector – despite the good news about growth.   

We published data that revealed that eight out of ten music creators impacted by Brexit said their earnings had fallen since the UK left the EU.  

We used the findings to renew our call on the Government to make it a priority to secure a Cultural Touring Agreement with the EU to remove the barriers facing UK musicians and crew and were pleased when the Domestic Advisory Group championed our calls. 

Manifesto 

The support needed for UK musicians and crew touring the EU is just one area where we need the Government to do more to nurture our sector and help it thrive.  

That’s why we drew up in September our UK Music Manifesto for Music, which outlines a comprehensive music strategy for growth.  

Cabinet Office Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG speaking at UK Music’s panel event on the Manifesto For Music with Levelling Up Minister and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music member Dehenna Davison, Royal Albert Hall CEO James Ainscough, CEO of Nordoff & Robbins Sandra Schrembi and UK Music’s Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl.

Ahead of a likely general election in 2024, it outlines a detailed roadmap that we believe will drive growth, exports, investment and success for the UK music industry. 

This year, we took the manifesto across the UK to six political party conferences to ensure all the major policymakers were aware of what the music industry needs, running two successful panels, two hit parties, and a reception and met with many key stakeholders.  

In Westminster, we work closely and support the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music to bring together music industry leaders with MPs and peers to help grow understanding about the sector. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, led by Kevin Brennan MP, with their copies of the Manifesto for Music.

With plenty more work to do, we will be using our Manifesto for Music as our springboard to take forward the UK music industry over the next 12 months.   

Team 

I’d like to thank the team at UK Music: Dougie Brown, Andy Edwards, Jennifer Geddes, Stephanie Haughton-Campbell, Ben Lambert, Florian Koempel, Hannah McLennan, Dr Oliver Morris, Vincent Moss, Eunice Obianagha and Beatriz Riberio for all their hard work this year, without which we would not have achieved what we have.   

I’d also like to thank the UK Music Board for their insight and collaboration, helping guide UK Music on key areas of concern for the music industry. Without their support we would not have achieved results issues such as the pause to US visa hikes, the reintroduction of the music teacher bursary, and more support for music exports and grassroots music spaces. 

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the contribution of Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, our former Chief Executive, who left the organisation in September to work for the Prime Minister as his Director of Strategy. Jamie was a fundamental part of what made 2023 such a success for UK Music and we will continue to build on his impact.   

We hope you will work with us to champion, collaborate and campaign for the UK music industry in 2024 and ensure it remains the best in the world. 

The UK Music team at the Summer Party.

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