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Music industry welcomes new Culture Secretary with bone-breaking handshake and hard stare

By | Published on Wednesday 11 July 2018

Jeremy Wright

Record industry trade groups the BPI and UK Music have welcomed the appointment of Jeremy Wright as the new British Culture Secretary Рa post he suddenly found himself in earlier this week thanks to the latest stage of Brexit chaos in the government. However, both warn the new guy that the music industry has high expectations.

“We congratulate and offer our very best wishes to Jeremy Wright on his appointment leading DCMS”, says BPI top man Geoff Taylor. “He comes to a busy desk: the European copyright proposals to fix the value gap need strong support; the Creative Industries Sector Deal implementation has begun; and the Digital Charter White Paper will be a great opportunity to deal with online harm with greater responsibility from intermediaries. He has plenty on his plate and we are keen to start work with him”.

Given that – as well as music – he also has all of culture, media, sport and everything digital within his new remit, the former barrister now arty/sporty/techie minister should be very busy indeed. But hey, Matt(hew) Hancock definitely managed it all during the brief time he held the post. Don’t go forgetting that Wrighty!

“We sincerely thank Matt Hancock for his energy and for the passionate commitment he has shown protecting and promoting music and the wider creative community”, Taylor goes on, still fixing his stare on Wright. “His strong support on the value gap has been invaluable and his thoughtful interventions on the Digital Charter helped pave the way for the UK to be at the forefront of a modern approach to internet responsibility. We congratulate him on his appointment and wish him well in his important new role”.

UK Music’s Michael Dugher – himself a former MP – also waved Hancock off with glowing praise, saying: “On behalf of UK Music, I’d like to say a big thank you to Matt Hancock. He has been a very good friend of ours, always willing to engage and listen, and to take up our fight. He proved to be passionate not just about digital, but became a great champion of the British music industry, a committed believer in diversity and a tireless defender of the intellectual property rights of the creators who are behind Britain’s world-leading music industry”.

Meanwhile Wright – Dugher adds – is a very lucky man. “Secretary Of State For DCMS is widely regarded as the best job in government”, he incorrectly states. “I’m looking forward to working with Jeremy Wright. He is blessed with a department that has a great ministerial team in Margot James, Tracey Crouch, Michael Ellis and Lord Ashton, and he has some of the best civil servants in the country at DCMS, especially those working in support of the creative industries”.

But with his smile suddenly dropping away, Dugher – like Taylor before him – then starts to sternly construct a significant to-do list for the new minister. “The new Secretary Of State has a busy in-tray”, he declares. “The battle in Brussels goes on as we try to tackle the value gap, whereby the likes of Google’s YouTube continue to make a fortune without fairly rewarding creators and investors responsible for content. We need to ensure artists can continue to tour the EU without costly bureaucracy and that musicians can come to the UK to record and to perform – from classical to pop – after Brexit”.

“We must deliver the protections that grassroots music venues deserve and were promised”, he adds. “And we must ensure that every young person, regardless of their background, is given every opportunity to access music, including in education, so that we continue to develop the world-class talent that Britain is renowned for”.

So Wright certainly shouldn’t expect any sort of grace period from a music industry already in full-on lobbying mode. Hancock, meanwhile, is now Health Secretary, where all he has to deal with is the NHS. Or not, if any of his predecessors are anything to go by.