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Paul Clements CEO MPA AGM Report 2019

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‘‘Our songwriters’ and publishers’ copyrights deserve fairer treatment – without their songs, the rest of the value chain have nothing to play with.’’

Good afternoon and welcome everybody to this year’s AGM. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge how thrilled and honoured I am to be leading the MPA Group. After spending more than 20 years working for PRS for Music representing songwriters and music publishers, I am delighted to be able to leverage my experience, skills and passion for our Members’ music to lead the delivery of increased revenues, fair terms for the use of your music including print music rights and to fight on your behalf for the strongest possible copyright frameworks, here and abroad to protect your rights.

Furthermore, for the avoidance of any doubt, I think it is important to be clear that while we are working on behalf of music publishers, we are doing it hand in hand with the incredible music creators that they represent and our songwriters’ creativity is behind everything we do and stand for.

Before sharing with you some of the highlights of the work each of the companies within the MPA Group has been doing and are focused on for 2019, I would like to acknowledge and thank:

Jane Dyball, our former CEO, and her team for their sterling efforts over 2018 continuing to stabilise the MCPS business, building a platform for growth and flexibility, while teeing up a range of opportunities to grow the print music business, PMLL. Alongside this Jackie, Jane and Lorna have continued to develop what the MPA stands for, protecting our Members’ rights and inputting into so many important industry developments, none least than that of the European Copyright Directive.

Talking of the Copyright Directive, I cannot thank enough Johnny Phelan and Chris Butler (Director General and Chair of ICMP respectively) for their strength of determination and art of persuasion in securing the votes required by the MEPs ahead of the CD voting process and thanks also to all our many other members who contributed to this massive collective effort. Our close association with ICMP is integral to supporting a strong copyright framework globally on behalf of the members we represent.

Closer to home, it is very much all change within PRS for Music, MCPS’ primary service provider. We say goodbye to ROBERT ASHCROFT who has delivered 10 years of remarkable and steadfast effort to PRS’ and MCPS’ members. If you take a look at the growth curve at PRS over the last 10 years, the battles won, the policies implemented and relationships established (particularly internationally) – you can all reflect on what an incredible contribution Robert has made to our business. Thank you, Robert and we all wish you well for the future. Now, we welcome Andrea C Martin to her new role as CEO of PRS. Andrea has a steep learning curve, but fortunately, Andrea inherits a business full of employees that care passionately about the songwriters and publishers that they work for, so I am confident that this will stand her in good stead. Welcome and good luck, Andrea and thank you to the teams at PRS who support our business.

I would like to also acknowledge the importance of our relationship with UK Music, expertly led by Michael Dugher and Andy Heath and indeed all of our fellow music industry trade bodies. Our unity is ever more important in this digital, complex and global landscape and we will continue to work hard to support the efforts of this umbrella UK organisation.

I would like to especially mention the Ivors’ Academy with whom we share so much in common, the protection of rights and fight for fair value on behalf of songwriters and right holders. Graham Davies and Crispin Hunt have been so very welcoming and engaging since I have arrived at the MPA and I look forward to progressing with them, alongside Roberto, areas of collaboration for the greater good of our creators and the business that we represent.

Finally, but very importantly I would like to thank each and every Board and Committee member across the MPA Group of Companies. Your participation in and contribution to everything from Policy to Education & Training is a huge commitment and goes such a long way in helping to ensure that we remain on top of our game in looking after our Members and their interests to the best of our capability. I would also like to extend a warm welcome and thank you to our YMPA members, a growing group of emerging talent publisher employees, who are developing their careers in our industry and wish to play their part in ensuring that our future remains bright.

Turning to the three businesses within the MPA Group, it has been another year of balance sheet stabilisation focus for MCPS, whose year-end Distribution to members totalled £141m. This value would have been quite considerably higher, but for some delays to the timing of digital and broadcast distributions, which are largely anticipated to be caught up in 2019. Work has continued on the new MCPS ‘MA3’ Membership agreement and I am pleased to report that we will be providing a full set of requirements to PRS to cost estimate the changes which will be required to deliver our modern and flexible membership terms over the coming 6 weeks. This will be a significant, but necessary piece of work and by the time we meet next year I expect us to move along a path to implementation.

A huge amount of focus is being placed on revenue growth, having had to focus on financial recovery for so long and this is hugely motivating. I am pleased to report the mechanical rights and production music sound recording rights that we represent remain as strong as ever and we have a range of new or revised licensing schemes that we are working on, alongside a significant focus on digital licensing and an International revenue assurance project to help grow MCPS Members’ revenues. We also remain focused on the input and maintenance of accurate copyright data. This continued effort has never been more important, it is critical to us ensuring that we maximise the value of your rights, particularly across the digital landscape, so I encourage its continued focus and our collective duty of care to the creators we represent in getting it right, wherever work is still required.

PMLL is a completely new business to me, but one that has been performing consistently well over its first 4 years, last year distributing £3.6m to it’s print and music publisher members. As discussed with the Department for Education recently, our licence enables schools to make copies of printed music easily, cost-effectively and for the benefit of children’s music education. We now plan to launch new schemes for Higher Education and Amateur Choirs, but importantly we require our Members’ mandates to achieve this. These are building very healthily and we hope to be able to implement at least one of the two new schemes mentioned this year.

We have focused a lot of attention on PMLL’s distribution policy over the last Quarter and I am pleased to report that the PMLL Board agreed on a new distribution policy only last week which will see more revenue distributed against the statistically robust data that we collect from schools that has been the case in the past. We aim to further increase data volumes collected from schools over the coming years, which will eventually facilitate distributions which are wholly based on data.

I am very pleased to announce that we have executed a non-exclusive agreement with Lyricfind, our MPA Summer Party sponsors, to represent 66 of our PMLL members, who have mandated us to represent their lyric rights for digital services. This will become a new revenue stream for those Members we represent and I encourage publishers to explore this more recent area of licensing and the services that Lyricfind have to offer.

The MPA has focused a lot of effort on the necessary work and support around the EU Copyright Directive, which was passed through the Council of the European Union on 15 April 2019.  Our attention, alongside ICMP will now hone in on influencing the ongoing process in the UK in the context of Brexit.

At the same time, we wholeheartedly support the efforts of David Israelite at the NMPA in the US, alongside the US Music industry that have come together to lobby for the Music Modernisation Act. They have a significant battle ahead of them following Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon’s Rate Court appeal, but I want them to know that we will stand alongside or behind them wherever we can help in their fight for a fairer streaming royalty rate. Our songwriters’ and publishers’ copyrights deserve fairer treatment – without their songs, the rest of the value chain have nothing to play with. You can have many artist recordings benefitting from a song, you can have many digital services reaping rewards from a song, however, quite ridiculously we continue to have to fight for a more appropriate value for each and every one of those unique and beautiful creations. Simply put, it is time for those that benefit from our creators’ art and the rights publishers invest in to show a little more respect!

Talking of international business, we have had a renewed focus on international trade and are strengthening our relationships with Department for International Trade, the BPI and AIM by joining missions to China and India for the first time, as well as continuing our established engagements with Midem and LA Sync. Such is the potential in many emerging markets around the globe, I deem it essential that we encourage our members to join these missions when feasible to understand how best to protect their rights and maximise the potential for them, while we at the MPA will play our part in sharing what we learn from these missions with our Membership.

We very much recognise that digital continues to grow, evolve and that so many that have not been involved in its licensing and ways of working from a rights perspective continue to find themselves in a ‘half light’ on the subject, at best. We are  keen to shine more light on this area of business, particularly involving experts at the coal face of licensing and data administration and I am pleased to announce that we will launch our first dedicated training and education modules (which will debut later this year) on Digital Licensing to help myth bust this quite complex licensing environment.

None of these initiatives are possible without a hard-working and talented team and I am delighted to confirm that our MPA team will be further strengthened in less than three months’ time, when Lucie Caswell, the FAC’s current CEO joins us as MPA General Manager & Chief Policy Officer [show Lucie’s photo on screen]. We look forward to welcoming Lucie, who will help us to springboard from the platform that Jackie, Jane and Lorna has left us.

I was very fortunate to be at Glastonbury this last weekend and to witness one of the most inspiring, emotionally stunning and mesmerising performances that I have ever experienced at that greatest of music festivals by the 17, yes seventeen-year-old, Billie Eilish. Her performance and the music of her and her brother Finneas’ genius will inspire a generation to come, of that I am confident. However, while leaving that gig, I could not help but reflect on how this, and other, examples of young musical talent inspire other young people on a daily basis, enable them to express themselves, support them with mental health issues and wellbeing. Also how it could inspire more children, my children, to sing or perform, perhaps with a confidence that they would otherwise fail to believe possible and how she may inspire more young people to join a music group, as Billie did when she was just 8 years old. However, the reality is that not every young person can pursue that dream or follow that inspiration, not because of the lack of interest or hope to do so, but rather because of insufficient local access and opportunity.

We now have a sub-Group of our Board focused on music education. I think it is critical that we invest more time and resource on this vitally important issue.

The MPA will seek to positively influence access to and participation in music learning for children across all UK schools. A child’s access to and participation in music learning ought not to depend on where the child lives, nor relate to affordability. Research has shown that music is a child’s favourite hobby, while it also positively supports mental wellbeing.

Music education should be for all, not merely the privileged few. Britain can be very proud of its generations of world class bands, singers, songwriters, producers and music industry talent. We look forward to helping to support the emergence of ever greater UK music talent for generations to come.

We really hope that we will be able to support the work of government by carefully inputting on any consultation on the next National Plan for Music Education, which is currently under review.

We will liaise with government and work with UK Music to understand how we can help to encourage and support greater access to music for children and young adults of all ages and we will put greater emphasis on clearly explaining the benefits of the blanket PMLL & MCPS licences that we have put in place with the Department for Education with schools to encourage their full use, as far as practically possible. These are great resources for schools, teachers and their students to benefit from.

Those at the frontline of music education – whether schools, Music Education Hubs, community music organisations and so on – should be supported with their work to help bring to life the benefits that music engagement can offer to our nation’s young people and thank you to all of those organisations and the teachers and volunteers within them who I know care tremendously about the value and positive influence that their work can bring.

Furthermore, we will continue to sponsor as many youth music related events or awards, as we are able to. This year we are focusing on contributions to a London Music Fund Scholar and an Award with Youth Music.

Prior to us being drawn into a fascinating debate on Music in Education, which will be moderated by UK Music’s CEO, Michael Dugher, in a short while, I am delighted to present to you this video from the wonderfully talented and award-winning, Paloma Faith…

[VIDEO]

Thank you Paloma, for your time, candour and generosity in recording that video for us and to all of you for listening to me. We have achieved a great deal to be proud of for very many years, but hopefully you will walk away from today with a very clear sense that there is an awful lot to come and we will be here to amplify each and every one of your voices to achieve the best possible results for your businesses and the composers that you represent!

 

MPA Members can view the entire MPA AGM and panel via the members’ section: 

AGM Formal Business > https://mpaonline.org.uk/mpa-agm-2019-formal-business-video/
AGM Panel > https://mpaonline.org.uk/mpa-agm-2019-panel-video/

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