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An open letter to the leaders of all parties in the UK General Election.

Tom Kiehl, Interim Chief Executive of UK Music, writes an open letter to the leaders of all parties in the UK General Election.

In his letter, sent in May 2024, Tom Kiehl reminds the contesting candidates of how important it is to protect the UK music industry. Home to an abundance of internationally renowned artists, festivals and venues in the world, the UK music industry contributes as much as £6.7 billion to the UK economy, employing over 210,000 people.  

Whilst the current UK government identified the creative industries as one of five priority sectors for economic growth, Kiehl and UK Music call upon the next UK Government to “develop a comprehensive, medium-to-long-term world-leading strategy for growth,” reiterating the sentiment of last September’s “A Manifesto for Music”

In his letter, Kiehl presents a quartet of strategic proposals, designed to: 

1. Support Human Artistry in the Age of AI 

As AI continues to evolve, it’s crucial to protect the rights and artistry of music creators. Kiehl calls for the incoming Government to rule out any kind of copyright exception or exemption that allows AI developers to use copyright-protected music without permission. This is clearly targeted at generative AI technology that uses copyright protected works to train its systems.  

Kiehl suggests that records should be kept of all works that are processed by AI systems, and that all AI generated music is clearly labelled as being so. He also encourages the Government to introduce protections for personality rights of music makers to prevent AI unlawfully replicating their voices; an interesting proposal, which seems to follow Tennessee’s Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Act 2024.  

2. Resolve the European Touring Crisis

The result of Brexit has left the UK’s touring musicians facing additional bureaucratic hurdles, for example, restrictive visas and work permits, complicated red tape around carnets, and barriers relating to merchandise and the hiring of touring vehicles. Kiehl urges the negotiation of a “Cultural Touring Agreement” with the EU, making it easier for artists to share their music across borders​​. 

3. Introduce a Music Production Tax Credit

Unlike other creative sectors, the music industry lacks tax incentives. Kiehl suggests that a tax credit is proposed to encourage music production, help to retain homegrown talent and attract international investment​​. 

4. Invest in Music Education

With a significant decline in GCSE and A-level music participants over the past decade, Kiehl calls for substantial investment to recruit more music teachers and provide quality education, ensuring a steady pipeline of future talent​​. The bursary opportunities for trainee music teachers are less than half of the amount available to teachers in science, maths, geography and other languages, which understandably, is driving people away from the idea. Kiehl suggests that providing better funding opportunities, will increase the chances of fostering new talent and maintaining the recent growth of the UK music industry. 

5. Combat Exploitative Secondary Ticketing

To protect fans from exorbitant resale prices, Kiehl demands that measures are taken to curb unfair practices in the secondary ticketing market, ensuring that live music remains accessible to all​​. 

Read the letter in full here. 

Peter Pegasiou

Author Peter Pegasiou

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