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MPA AGM 2019 review by Speakers for Schools Next Generation placement

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The MPA hosted its second Speakers for Schools Next Generation Work Experience placement at the end of June/July for 2 weeks. S4SNextGen is a free programme from the charity Speakers for Schools that allows organisations to offer their invaluable work experience and engagement opportunities directly to the state school and college students who need it most. Speakers for Schools are a partner in the government-funded Creative Careers Programme which is designed to help 2 million teenagers discover the breadth of jobs in the creative sector and help it to become more diverse and plug skills shortages. The MPA is inputting into this programme via the UK Music Skills Board. To find out more about how companies can get involved please click here.

MPA hosted a talented and ambitious 18-year-old student at the end of her A level studies, Kyann-Sian Williams. As part of her placement, Kyann-Sian attended the MPA AGM and wrote a review on the events of the day. You can read her review below.

This year’s AGM had many exciting elements to it: we had an amazing panel, a runoff vote (congratulations Phil Rose), and a stellar summer party afterwards. Congratulations to Clare Everson, and Marie Robinson for winning the 2019 Richard Toeman Scholarship awards too.

2019 has been a year of change for the MPA. At the start of the year, there was a newly appointed CEO, Paul Clements. He – alongside the MPA team – has been working diligently to maintain the association’s ethos, with rightsholders and songwriters at its heart. At the AGM, Roberto Neri (Downtown Music as UK Executive Vice President) was appointed the new Chair of the MPA. However, with a new Chair means another must go, Jackie Alway’s contribution to the MPA did not go unnoticed, with the CEO’s heartfelt send off to the beloved Chair, quoting: “You’ve done such a sterling job. We’ll miss you”.

In the CEO’s speech, Pauls hit a few home truths as well as the right notes, speaking about the need to support publishers of all shapes and sizes. This was highlighted in Paul’s emphasis on growing members and ensuring the protection of their rights. Encouraging global conglomerates like Google, and companies such as Spotify to give fairer credit to publishers was at the forefront of the CEO’s plan. Focusing on the songwriter is vital in the industry because there is a fear that new talent will be exploited instead of embraced, and Paul wants to embrace and encourage the next generation. He references Billie Eilish and her imaginative writing, claiming that influential writers like Eilish can inspire the next generations – the generations we should be ready to support no matter what race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

The CEO speech also announced the new appointment of Lucie Caswell as the MPA General Manager and Chief Policy Officer. She will be taking over from Interim General Manager Lorna Greenwood, who will move into a brand new role at the MPA.

The surprise video from Paloma Faith discussing her relationship with publishers was special, reminding us that publishing is the future – of which we already knew. She advises publishers to invest in their own as well as future writers because selling records isn’t enough anymore. We can see that selling merchandise, song streams, and other content can be other revenues for a songwriter, so the need to evolve with their emergence is important as well.

With its theme Hitting the Right Note on Music Education, the AGM explored how the lack of diversity in the industry is represented by the lack of diversity in its education. From the teachers to the students taking music courses, there is not a diverse mix of people due to many factors. One could be the socio-economic impact on families. Mostly fee-paying schools have the best music facilities, but if you live below or near the poverty line, the luxury isn’t usually available. 50% of fee-paying schools offer music courses that educate 90+% of the music industry. However, there are approximately 6.5% of schools are fee-paying in the UK so that’s millions of children without the best facilities or links in the industry.

The panellists, consisting of Debra King (Brighter Sound), Sharon Jagdev Powell (Ex Music Teacher & Hub leader), Kevin Brennan (MP), and Shingai Shoniwa (Artist and Songwriter) and moderated by Michael Dugher (UK Music) discussed how their work combats this injustice, whilst also offering advice. The idea of “skilling up” creatives in all areas of the industry was one piece of advice given by Debra King. Shingai Shoniwa declared to any aspiring youth that perseverance and expressing yourself is key “resilience…I’d definitely recommend that…channel all your bad into good”. She continued ‘‘As music is an outlet for so many people, it has to be an outlet for the creative community too”. Shingai also stated that the job of the songwriter and artist was “to make people feel liberated”. This feeling of liberation should not be exclusive to the wealthier communities, but to all creatives – reinforcing the theme of the 2019 AGM.

You can read Paul Clements’s full CEO AGM Report here.

By Kyann-Sian Williams  – MPA Work Experience

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