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The Music Industries and Lobbying
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The Music Industries and Lobbying


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  • Note: talking mainly about the UK but can be applied across the board – look at lobbying in US Congress and European Parliament too
  • Some multi
  • Judith Wilcox, Parliamentary under Secretary of StateWilletts – Minister of StateEd Vaizey – Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative IndustriesJohn Penrose – Minister for Tourism and Heritage
  • Live music act exempts venues <200 capacity from Licensing Act
  • Live music act exempts venues <200 capacity from Licensing Act
  • Figures from congressional filings
  • Transcript

    • 1. John WilliamsonM.Litt (Popular Music Studies) 30th January 2012
    • 2.  What is lobbying? [definitions] Why is it relevant to the music industries? Who are the lobbyists and who is lobbied? Case Study / UK Music Problems with lobbying Is it effective? Conclusions
    • 3.  “There is no neat way of defining what is generally acknowledged to be a porous concept.” (House of Commons‟ Public Administration Committee) The term has generally become discredited  “public affairs” “Contact between those working in the public sector and those attempting to influence their decisions” (ibid)
    • 4.  “Lobbying is any activity that seeks to influence government and public policy. Lobbying falls under a sub-sector of the Public Relations industry known as Public Affairs. A Public Affairs campaign will encompass a range of activities, of which forming relationships with politicians and government officials is just one. For example, a campaign may involve commissioning reports from think tanks, scientists or academics, which support a particular position. It may also involve using the media to influence public opinion to put pressure on politicians to act.” (
    • 5.  Each of the US state legislatures has its own definitions of lobbying and lobbyists – e.g. North Carolina “influencing or attempting to influence legislative or executive action, or both, through direct communications or activities with a designated individual or that designated individual’s immediate family”
    • 6.  “Developing goodwill or communications or activities, including the building of relationships, with the intention of influencing current or future legislation” Both formal and informal links reflected in these definitions. Lobbying consists of both direct and indirect attempts to influence politicians
    • 7.  Direct: meeting with politicians and civil servants; supplying and producing information; maintaining good relations and (in some extreme cases) helping to draft legislation. Indirect: organising interest groups and individuals to drum up support for interests / viewpoints(petitions, letters, etc.). Placing stories in the media.
    • 8.  Lobbying has become important in the music industries in recent years due to the involvement of governments in areas of policy /the law, notably: • Copyright / Intellectual Property • Monopolies and Mergers • Arts and Heritage Enterprise funding • Education • Technology / internet regulation • Live Music / local government – health and safety etc.
    • 9.  This is a relatively recent development. . why? Frith (1993): “The British music business has been successful enough not to need industrial support and pop has never been thought worthy of cultural subsidy” Frith (2000): “Compared to other media industries (broadcasting or the press) the British music industry has not been the object of much government interest”
    • 10.  However, there has always been a connection between government and the music industries in the UK. Prior to 1999, no immediate threats to industries, so their need to lobby government was limited. Indeed, BPI supported City Technology Colleges – Brit School formed in 1991. Government (prior to Blair government) deeply ambivalent towards music industries
    • 11.  Attempts to add tape levy to 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act failed, partly because of what Frith calls “poor image” of “music industry.” Accusations of price fixing and monopolistic behaviour from Office of Fair Trading. These provided the impetus for the record industry (BPI) to begin engaging with government in mid 1990s to improve image of their members
    • 12. 2 other factors in the increased use of lobbying: • New government, new engagement with cultural industries post 1997. Formation of DCMS, Creative Industries Mapping Exercises etc • New technologies, declining sales of recorded music. And an outcome – the widening of the range of music industries‟ interests involved in lobbying. No longer recording industry = “music industry.”
    • 13.  Lobbyists can be salaried staff of the firms or industrial organisations they represent or . . . Working for multi-client public affairs companies („lobbyists for hire‟). The major companies within the music industries have responded to industrial “crisis” by formation of UK Music and the engagement of public affairs consultants
    • 14.  UK Music – formed in 2008 after pressure from government for music industries to speak with “one voice.” Replaced previous umbrella body – British Music Rights. Chief Executive= Feargal Sharkey Initially made up of 8 different organisations representing different parts of the music industries. . .
    • 15.  AIM – Association of Independent Music BASCA – British Academy of Sognwriters, Composers and Authors BPI – British Phonographic Industry MMF – Music Managers‟ Federation MPA – Music Publishers‟ Association MPG – Music Producers‟ Guild MU – Musicians‟ Union PPL – Phonographic Performance Ltd PRS for Music
    • 16.  It was criticised for still not representing the full range of music industries‟ interests due to lack of live music bodies. In 2011, UK Music board was joined by the newly formed UK Live Music Group, chaired by Live Nation‟s Paul Latham. Includes: Agents‟ Association, Association of Festival Organisers, Association of Independent Festivals, Concert Promoters‟ Association, International Live Music Conference, National Arenas Association, Production Services Association, Independent Venues and Promoters‟ Association.
    • 17.  Promote awareness & understanding of: • Interests of UK music industry at all levels • The value of music to society, culture & the economy • Intellectual Property rights and how they promote creativity • The opportunities and challenges for music creators in the digital age4 priority areas: policy and government relations; policy within the EU; Education; Research
    • 18.  Jo Dipple – promoted in 2012 to replace Feargal Sharkey. Former journalist – Today, News of the World, Daily Mirror Trinity Mirror as Head of Public Affairs Worked in Strategic Communications Unit at Downing Street as special adviser to the Treasury.
    • 19.  2010-11 – Ministerial Meetings with Judith Wilcox (3), Ed Vaizey (4), David Willetts (1), John Penrose (2) Oral evidence given to Parliamentary Committees (Business, Innovation and Skills) by Sharkey and Brian Message. Subjects of meetings include intellectual property, music publishing, music, music licensing, live music
    • 20.  Individual organisations and companies also meet with government ministers beyond the scope of UK Music – e.g. BPI, MPA, EMI, Universal Music, PRS for Music, PPL, AIM, MMF. Large companies also employ public affairs firms. .Universal Music has employed Lexington Communications, Open Road, Finsbury Ltd.
    • 21.  “maintain a positive profile” “managing business and reputational risk the political process generates” “reliable insight and political intelligence about public policy” “developing effective briefing materials” “staging events, receptions and conferences” “input on all aspects of legislative process and developing lobbying strategies around
    • 22.  Lobbying has become a major political issue, though not necessarily one that transfers to the public. High profile cases – Bernie Eccleston (1997), Lord Ashcroft, cash for honours. Suspicion of influence in return for political donations. Lack of transparency and regulation – no statutory register of lobbyists Relationships and “revolving door” between civil servants/ political staff and lobbying companies
    • 23.  Very difficult to prove connections between these relationships and policy implementation, but suspicion is aroused when former ministers end up working for organisations in the industries they previously regulated . . . The hiring of people with personal contacts and influence within government is a particularly controversial strategy.
    • 24.  Examples in the music industries : • Estelle Morris is an example in the music industries: former Arts Minister, now on board of PRS for Music • Louise Mensch – husband manages Metallica, Snow Patrol, etc. • MP4 – band comprising Members of Parliament with assorted interests in music industries: releasing album with Revolver; produced by Robin Millar, remix by Pete Waterman; gig with Feargal Sharkey – all important figures in music industries‟ lobbying bodies.
    • 25. A further issue with lobbying is the cost. Some indicators of the amounts spent by industry organisations –those this is also non-transparent. In 2008, EMI threatened to withdraw from industry organisations, claiming membership cost them $250m per year RIAA lobbying expenditure $2.1million in first quarter 2011 (Congress disclosure report)
    • 26.  Some evidence of success for music industries in recent years: • Copyright extension on sound recordings in EU/ UK (previously in USA) • Live Music Act (2012) • Digital Economy Act (2010) – three strikes legislation in France • Setting up of reviews and commissions • Mergers of Sony BMG, Live Nation / Ticketmaster etc • Government support for music industries • Opportunities for access to ministers/ officials
    • 27.  BUT.. .the lobbying interests of the music industries are often checked / slowed by a combination of : • More powerful vested interests • Legal processes • Unsympathetic reviews • Work of groups opposing the worldviews of large cultural industries conglomerates
    • 28.  Stop Online Piracy Act / Protect Intellectual Property Act – both passed through House of Representatives in 2011. Major protests / lobbying ahead of proposed Senate vote in 2012. Google, Facebook, eBay and others took out NY Times ad in 2011. Blackout by Wikipedia and other sites – 18 January 2012
    • 29.  Google blacked out logo and linked to petition signed by 4.5 million people. 350 000 emails sent to Senators 2.4 million tweets in 4 hours Evidence of impact: Senators withdrawing support, vote postponed. However, this was achieved with a huge lobbying spend.
    • 30.  Google spent $9.7m on lobbying Congress in 2011; Facebook over $1million 1 company (Google) spent more than RIAA representing an entire industry. Live Nation spent $220 000 in 2011. Companies lobbying on SOPA/PIPA – on all sides - spent $150 million in second half of 2011.
    • 31.  UK‟s Digital Economy Act (2010) – implementation held up by legal process. BT and Talk Talk challenged provisions of the Act allowing suspension of internet access for serial file sharers / sending out of warning letters. Challenge initially rejected, now at Court of Appeal. Based on EU law. Has delayed implementation of Act
    • 32.  The government reviews of IP (Gowers and Hargreaves) have generally failed to be convinced by claims of lobbyists – both arguing for government policy to be shaped by “economic evidence” – but problems of finding neutral, non-aligned data. That which is produced is routinely rubbished by content industries. Opposition from groups like Open Rights Group, Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • 33.  Lobbying is difficult to define and opaque: it is in the interests of both the lobbyists and politicians to not reveal any information beyond what they have to Lobbying comprises both direct and indirect attempts to influence policy through both formal and informal links with policy makers
    • 34.  Industries lobby as individual companies, under industrial umbrella organisations and in conjunction with other industries (e.g. RIAA/ MPAA) They use both their own corporate affairs staff or public affairs companies depending on perceived effectiveness. Lobbying is increasingly costly for organisations and not always effective. Biggest challenge may not be resistance of politicians but greater power of other, related (technology) industries
    • 35.  The cultural industries – music included – have become increasingly involved in lobbying as government has become more interested in them economically. UK music industries have responded to government interest by conducting extensive campaigns on (primarily) copyright related matters
    • 36.  How important is lobbying to the music industries? Is lobbying more important to some than others? (recording, publishing, live) Who (ultimately) pays for the lobbying? Who (primarily) benefits from it? How does it impact on the creators? How does it impact on consumers?