MPA AGM – CEO’s Report 29th June 2016


Speech by Jane Dyball, CEO MPA Group of Companies

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the MPA AGM. For some of you – myself included – this will be the fourth AGM you have attended today, so a hearty thank you for your endurance. For those of you who didn’t attend this morning’s AGMs you missed some shocking and surprising news which is going to shake up the whole industry.

OK maybe not…but just for a moment, I bet you wish you had gone. Please do come to those that affect you next year as (for my own sanity as much as anything) I am not going to repeat in detail here what was covered in those meetings.

Instead, I will tell you that today, at the PMLL ARM [Annual Rightsholder Meeting], we heard about this surprising business that licences the copying of print music, and which went from £0 to a £3m-plus turnover a year right from the get-go. About our attempts to collect better data and to better distribute revenue which has been earned against the data we have, about the significant scope for extending this business and about our anti-piracy work which has been kick started this year.

At the IMPEL ARM we heard about our digital business, about its growth both in terms of membership and turnover, and about the challenges ahead and how we are planning on facing them.

At the MCPS ARM we discussed governance issues as we steer our path through the implementation of the CRM Directive, with the assistance of the IPO who have attended all our meetings today. The path we are following has changed slightly since last year, and although we have had to do a couple of detours, we are trying to get as close to CRM compliance as we can. This is a work in progress.

One of the significant parts of the Directive is the requirement for a transparency report to be made available to its members – and I’m pleased to report that all three AGMs this morning had a transparency report prepared and circulated.

The other main issue discussed at the MCPS ARM was the tender process for the MCPS business. Again, I do not propose getting into detail here but we were delighted at the response we have received to the RFP process and are reviewing responses.

Every single word of the tender document was written by and approved by our truly first class committees made up from amongst you, our members. The level of experience and expertise involved in this process is the best in the business, it really is, and their dedication and support has been hugely appreciated by me, my team and the MCPS Board.

We look forward to reviewing the submissions but for those who are interested in what services music publishers require from a collection society you need look no further than the RFP document.

The final deadline for responses is actually 6pm tomorrow – so if anybody here has a very late pitch, you have precisely 28 hours to send it to Tom Fletcher.

There was a time when the MPA CEO’s speech was about the MPA. You might be excused for thinking that you have joined the wrong meeting. It seems to me that these companies have always been run together but it is almost exactly a year ago that we started referring to ourselves as the MPA Group Companies and that is what we have become.

However, we can’t forget the mothership of the MPA.

This time last year I introduced you to our new general manager, Claire McAuley and since we met last year we have an entirely (and I mean 100%) new team. They are young, they are enthusiastic and we actually have to tell them to go home every night. I’m sure by now you have met them all but if not they will be in the pub later.
Together we are doing our utmost to reevaluate our working methods and priorities. We have changed and revamped committees, reviewed the events we attend and support and have looked at every aspect of the service we offer to members.

This is an ongoing process, as we look at socials, training courses and trade missions. We have started ambitious initiatives in the areas of anti-piracy and diversity. We want to make sure that every event we are involved in delivers value for money to the membership, while at the same time actively seeking out a new upcoming generation of music publishing businesses and executives. We step back when another industry organisation is doing a better job and add our strength to theirs.

For evidence of this in action, there’s no better example than our partnership with BPI and UKTI to facilitate the now annual trade missions to Germany and to LA – where Kirsty has recently returned with a delegation of around 40 entrepreneurs and executives.

From the economic data submitted by members to UK Music, we are fully aware that A&R investment by British music publishers is at an all-time high, and give or take the odd million, equal with that spent by British record labels.

We also know that British music travels well, that international revenues are increasingly important, and that there is a huge demand for placement of our members’ repertoire in adverts, soundtracks and other commercial backdrops.

In fact, and this wasn’t actually published in UK Music’s findings, but the value of sync revenue and direct licensing received by our members in 2015 was some £52m – more than twice that received by record labels.

By responding to this kind of information, we are better able to plan initiatives with most benefit our members – something that Claire and our hugely talented and enthusiastic young team are now capably delivering. As well as thanking them for their hard work, I would also like you to give a warm hand to Steve Burton and Tom Fennell, who do so much behind the scenes and have continued to deliver beyond the call of duty. Take a bow, team!

I would also like to say give a special mention to my Chair, Jackie Alway, who remains an incredibly passionate advocate of our sector both in the UK and overseas, and also for the continued support of the MPA board.

Before we finish we have to mention the referendum. To those who voted differently to us it’s time to be friends again. To our European colleagues who have made the UK their home, we still love you. To the EC with whom we have had a love hate relationship we say “you haven’t seen the last of us – everything you do affects our truly international business”. To those governing us in the UK, we say “be gentle with us. We have adapted our businesses wholesale over the past 40 years and are true Europeans. It will be hard and expensive for us to dismantle our world”. To the marketplace we say “we are a business ready willing and able to adapt”. Our business continues to evolve over its 200 year history. I myself have learned something new every day for the past 30 years. I think that’s another way of admitting that I am making it up as I go along.

This brings me to the main event. Tony James – we have only just met but I think it is fair to say you’ve made a career out of making it up. Today we wanted to celebrate the DIY culture, partly in celebration of 40 glorious years of punk, but also because it seems sometimes that the YouTube generation are definitely doing it for themselves.

Tony was there right at the start in 1976 and will give us a first hand account of what it felt like in the “here’s a chord, here’s another chord, here’s a third chord – now play” culture.

Are we scared of the future? Yes! Should we be? Perhaps. But there are a whole generation of people who are not scared and who are entering our business not reluctantly but with an eye to an opportunity. Not because they think it is dead in the water, but because they see a way of perhaps doing it differently, and I think it is high time we get to meet them.

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