MPA Chair Jackie Alway addresses MPA Christmas lunch
19 December 2016 - Press release
"On behalf of the MPA, I would like to offer a warm welcome to our Christmas lunch.
"As Chair of the association I am truly delighted to be here, among friends and fellow music lovers.
"Regardless of the outside world, this event - institution even! - still feels like a safe haven of warmth, company and good cheer. The perfect environment to see out 2016.
"Or should I say, see off 2016. Because what a year it’s been…
"Back in July, the Daily Telegraph ran a piece by its chief political sketchwriter with the following headline:
Right. That’s it. There’s now too much news. Please can somebody make it stop?
"This was following a momentous week when, in the words of the writer:
“Britain voted to leave the EU, the pound plummeted, the markets panicked, the Prime Minister resigned, the shadow cabinet resigned, the Labour leader refused to resign, Labour rebels launched and then halted a coup, the First Minister of Scotland begged the EU to let her country stay, racist hate crimes shot up by 400 per cent, Boris Johnson both began and ended his campaign to become Prime Minister after Michael Gove switched from being his closest ally to his worst enemy, and the Labour party launched a festival of anti-Semitism.”
"I think we can all recollect how he felt. Although, since then, the news cycle has barely slowed down.
"The times we live in remain desperately uncertain - and, on occasion, if seems like we’re unwitting participants in a reality TV show.
"Talking of which, it wasn't so long ago that bookmakers were offering odds of 150/1 for Donald Trump to become President of the USA.
"Music feels like one of the few things we can still cling on to. To help make sense of the sheer unpredictability that surrounds us. (Surely I can't be the only person here who has been playlisting songs like I Say A Little Prayer, Bridge Over Troubled Water and I Will Survive over recent months!)
"However, the world that we represent has not been immune to these seismic shocks.
"For a business like music publishing, so brilliantly successful at licensing and exporting , the impact of Brexit has been particularly tough to evaluate. Let’s not forget, our sector contributes more than a quarter of the exports for the entire UK music business - some £520m per year.
"To misquote for a moment one of the musical icons we sadly lost in 2016, for many of us the stars looked very different when we woke up post-referendum, on June 24th.
"Brexit is still the great unknown.
"But I am delighted to say that the reaction from music publishers has been unanimously positive and assertive.
"Working with UK Music, the MPA has been front and centre in seeking Government assurances that creative businesses must be consulted at every stage of Brexit negotiations, and driving home the importance of our freedom to trade.
"Europe is our biggest customer, and it is absolutely crucial that the UK’s creative businesses remain part of the Digital Single Market.
"Ironically, these conversations are happening the very moment that the European Commission is considering steps to help close the “Value Gap”, to provide much-needed clarity in how rights are licensed, and streamline the copyright framework.
"Having spoken in unison, the creative community has made itself heard in Brussels, and momentum is really building.
"The MPA has been hard at work here too, in tandem with the ICMP.
"And I know for a fact that US music publishers and songwriters are looking at this situation with envy - and urging their Government to follow Europe’s lead.
"The MPA is also breaking new ground internally, and fighting tirelessly for the benefit of every UK music publisher in this room.
"Many of you here have been part of the RfP process with MCPS. We recently announced that the service agreement with PRS will be extended for six months, to allow for further evaluation of options before a formal long-term appointment can be made.
"This was not the easy path to take. But it was the path with the interests of MCPS members at its heart - to strike you a better deal - and indicative of the commercially-minded approach and fresh, ambitious thinking that Jane, Claire, Steve and the rest of their incredibly young and enthusiastic team have brought in.
"It is even evident within the structure of the organisation. And following a membership review, a root-and-branch reorganisation of our committees I can’t ever remember the MPA being as proactive, dynamic or relevant as it is today.
"And we’re not stopping there.
"I am also excited to announce that, in January, the MPA will be launching a brand new student membership - creating a bridge for young people who want to pursue a career in our business. We are passionate about developing these kind of outreach and youth engagement activities, and ensuring the success of future generations of music publishers.
"I am immensely proud to chair such a progressive organisation, that can represent the wide diversity of individuals and businesses here today - and keep moving forward.
"Before I finish, I would like to say thank you to our ticketing partner Eventbrite, and to our drinks reception sponsor Spotify.
"I also want to mention three dear friends of the MPA, sadly departed: Fiona Haycock, Tony Pool and Andrew Potter.
"Fiona was drafted in last minute to oversee last year’s Christmas Lunch, picking up the baton with a minimum of fuss and making everything tick. She was much loved within the music business, and particularly at BPI, PPL and the Music Industry Trusts Award - and was rightly recognised at Music Week’s Women In Music Roll of Honour.
"Tony, I believe, spent practically his entire working life with Boosey & Hawkes, eventually becoming Head of Business Affairs. A firm advocate of copyright reform, he made a significant contribution to political discussions - in the UK and in Europe - and paved the way for the creation of British Music Rights. He served as Chair and Deputy Chair of the MPA.
"And Andrew, who passed away so suddenly in February, was also a passionate and lifelong advocate of our business - as Director of Oxford University Press, as MPA Chair and Board Member, and as Chair of PRS. The concept of “retirement” was alien to Andrew. To the end he remained a consultant to MPA, chair of Creative Futures and vice president of Making Music.
"All of them loved the MPA Christmas Lunch, and how it brings our entire community together in celebration.
"And I’m sure they’d join me in wishing everyone in this room a very Happy Christmas.
"And, finally, in a toast to the current MPA team, for a better, brighter and more certain future ahead - and one still soundtracked by the genius of British music."