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Economy and Society: Contribution of Music

Part of High Speed 1: Rolling Stock – in Westminster Hall at 3:37 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 3:37 pm, 21st January 2020

I will not, because of the time, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind.

This issue is extremely important, and I hope that the Minister will press his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get on with the job that they are doing of reviewing the availability of shared parental leave for freelancers. We found out today from the Office for National Statistics that for the first time ever more than 5 million people in this country are self-employed. That is a huge part of the creative industries in general and the music sector in particular, so I hope that the Minister takes that job on and communicates with Ministers in other Departments to get the job done.

We have heard about the importance of Brexit. That is a massive issue for the music industry, including in relation to the copyright directive and the huge importance that that has for composers and musicians—for the industry. I should mention the work of PRS for Music in this regard and the tremendous work that it does. Some £618 million a year of export revenue is earned just by music publishing, which is an extraordinary statistic.

We have to deal with the issue of organisations, massive corporations, such as YouTube and Google. Google and YouTube will take $5.5 billion-worth of revenue from advertising alone in the US during 2020; and 70% of views on YouTube are of 10% of the content, and I would wager that a lot of that content is music content. Musicians and creators are just not being adequately rewarded in that regard.

The other issue is the musicians’ passport and the importance of freedom of movement. I know that the Minister was a Brexiteer, but it is vital that musicians are able to exercise freedom of movement on our departure from the EU and the end of the implementation period. This is not just about large orchestras or big touring bands, which may or may not have the resources and capacity to absorb that. It is also about the small gigging musician who may have a few fans and followers in Berlin, Italy or wherever, who is on an easyJet flight carrying their own instrument and for whom this is a highly marginal activity but one that could lead to a very major career in music. I hope that the Minister bears that in mind and ensures that the music passport proposal becomes reality and freedom of movement does also.

On music education, I will not labour the points made earlier, but it is extremely important.

I do want to introduce one final new and different issue—the BBC. If the Government are serious about the music industry, they need to think about the undermining of the BBC that seems to be the flavour of the day in Government at the moment. The BBC is hugely important to our music industry. It is hugely important to composers, musicians, orchestras, producers, technicians, mixers, engineers—to all of the music sector. Just look at the behaviour now of some of the big channels—for example, the Discovery Channel—which are trying to buy out music rights in relation to copyright. Undermining the BBC because of petty political issues will damage our music industry, and I urge the Minister to ensure that he makes representations in that regard within Government.