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AIM boss talks Brexit, music strategies and climate change at Connected conference

By | Published on Thursday 6 February 2020


The CEO of the UK’s Association Of Independent Music, Paul Pacifico, talked Brexit, music strategies and climate change during his opening address at the AIM Connected conference earlier this week, in a speech considering how the independent music industry can protect its own interests, those of the wider music community, and of the world at large.

Noting that the record industry’s figures keep going up at the moment – and that new services like Tik Tok suggest that the streaming revolution is only just beginning – Pacifico then asked “so why doesn’t it feel any easier?”

Brexit, of course, poses challenges for the UK and wider European music industry, even if we remain pretty much in the dark as to what precise challenges are ahead.

Ensuring that, once the transition period that began last week is over, there are no new barriers for British artists touring Europe is priority number one, of course. And then there is the fact the UK government has no current plans to implement the European Copyright Directive that the British music community lobbied so hard for.

On the first point, Pacifico stated: “We are working alongside our colleagues at the Musicians’ Union and other partners at UK Music to promote the idea of a ‘touring passport’ to try to avoid a slide back to the bad old days of carnets and other bureaucratic hurdles that will make career development for emerging artists, especially, all the more difficult, expensive and fraught with risk”.

Beyond touring, he added, “we are scrutinising aspects of cross-border data sharing, transshipment of goods and all of the other areas of our businesses that could be disrupted if not considered properly, whatever the outcome of the various trade negotiations now underway”.

As for copyright reform, “whilst the government has stated clearly that it will not implement the [EU copyright] directive, we will not let up in our campaign to ensure the ‘value gap’ does not persist and that we are able to better balance the relationships and value-flows with some of the platforms, who remain crucial partners to our businesses, even though clearly some still need to reflect a better and more even balance of value in the protection of rights and flow of royalties”.

Beyond Brexit, Pacifico acknowledged the UK government’s plan to put together a joined up music strategy, that would overcome issues that arise from music matters being cut across multiple government departments. AIM has opinions on that plan too, obviously.

“Another crucial area of focus for AIM is in the ability of our members to access capital”, Pacifico said. “Government has stated its intention to develop a proper music strategy over the course of this year, and we are determined to ensure that support for a range of funding and financing options is at the very heart of the government’s approach”.

But the independent music community isn’t just focused on music matters. Hence Pacifico’s speech also turning to the politics and campaigning around climate change.

After bigging up the Music Declares Emergency initiative that many AIM members – and especially AIM Chair Peter Quicke – are actively involved in, and the trade group’s own charity partner Client Earth, Pacifico went on: “AIM’s Climate Action Group has already become an industry leader in developing practical tools and action while helping coordinate and amplify the good work being done elsewhere across our industry and beyond”.

Demonstrating how the music community can have an impact on this issue, that there Music Declares Emergency campaign just last week met with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who is responsible for the EU’s Green Deal initiative.

Artists Fay Milton (from Savages) and Edwin Congreave (from Foals) joined Quicke and Alison Tickell from UK charity Julie’s Bicycle, plus pan-European indie labels trade group IMPALA, at the meeting. After it, Milton remarked: “The EU’s Green Deal is very promising and we found a shared understanding that music can play an important role in supporting positive change. We can help Commissioner Timmermans accelerate his plan”.

That was a sentiment echoed by Pacifico back at AIM Connected. “As well as working alongside a number of commercial partners within the music industry, AIM has been speaking with the UN Environmental Agency about how as an industry and a community we can collaborate to best align our work and help make a difference to the world”, he said.

“The independent music community has always been about more than just music and money”, he concluded. “Our sector has grown and developed out of wave after wave of cultural movements, ahead of the mainstream and at the forefront of key moments in political and social justice. We are a community that cares”.