Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal Retail

IMPALA chief explains Europe’s Digital Single Market initiative, and why it’s important to the future of music

By | Published on Friday 13 February 2015


In the latest issue of the CMU Trends Report, published last Friday, the boss of pan-European indie labels trade body IMPALA, Helen Smith, explains more about the Digital Single Market initiative that is currently in vogue in Brussels.

It’s the discussion taking place within the European Commission and Parliament that motivated IMPALA to publish its previously reported Digital Action Plan because, while music rights owners will likely be criticised by some of those inputting into this debate, the indie labels see it as a chance to put some of their bug-bears under the spotlight, especially the challenges they – and the wider music community – face when negotiating with tech giants that some argue have exploited loopholes in copyright law.

Explaining the background to the Digital Single Market, Smith told CMU: “Few will have escaped hearing about Europe’s ‘single market’ or the ‘internal market’ in the past, or even the ‘common market’ if you go way back. The ‘digital single market’ – or DSM if you like acronyms – is the digital version”.

“It’s about making sure European businesses and citizens benefit from a borderless, fully connected online marketplace with Europe as one territory. That means getting rid of national or other rules or restrictions that create barriers to reaching across borders, and to do that you need the best digital infrastructure with rules to match. The EU is due to finalise proposals for how to achieve all this by May 2015”.

As for the impact all this will have on the music industry, Smith explained: “It will shape the environment we trade in, so it is crucial to get it right. The digital single market initiative reaches across various areas – from data protection to telecoms to copyright and online commerce – it presents the opportunity for decision-makers to create a healthier licensing environment across all EU member states. If the EU doesn’t take a strong stance we risk seeing further transfer of value away from the music business and other creative sectors”.

And as for her own organisation’s role in all this, she went on: “For IMPALA, this project can only work if the EU understands and fosters the sectors which are key to the digital environment. Music and other cultural industries are leading digitally. Looking at how to build on this must be a priority, so that the digital single market delivers benefits to artists and other creators and, of course, European citizens”.

You can read the full interview in the latest CMU Trends Report. You can buy the report for £9.99 in the CMU Shop, or sign up for CMU Premium today and get a copy straight away. Multi-user subscriptions are also available for music companies here.

IMPALA’s full Digital Action Plan is online here.