Brussels - 29th March 2012
British Labour MEP from London, Mary Honeyball, hosted a dinner in the Members’ Salon of the European Parliament Wednesday, 28 March 2012. This evening was an opportunity for key EU officials and parliamentarians, as well as EU member states’ representatives, to get a better understanding of the music sector and to exchange views on the experiences and challenges faced by of some of Europe’s most innovative entrepreneurs, and independent music companies.
With copyright related issues making the front page on a regular basis, the event provided an opportunity for healthy debate between the main actors of the independent music sector and the decision makers who shape the legal and political environment in Europe.
One of the topics discussed was the ongoing attempt by the world’s biggest music companies, Universal and Sony, to acquire their rival EMI.
Mary Honeyball MEP said: “How do we grow European culture and European music? How do we deal with the fact that less than 40% of the music most played on European radio or downloaded in Europe is actually European? Or that only 5 out of every 100 artists in the top 100 are signed to SMEs?"
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA said: “How our cultural industries look in the future is a fundamental political issue. On finance we have seen real progress with the proposed European loan guarantee scheme. In terms of levelling the playing field, the next few months are crucial.“
The night also saw Mary Honeyball MEP handing over the IMPALA award for “European Independent Album of the Year” to Martin Mills (CEO of the Beggars Group) as recognition of XL Recordings’ artist Adele’s incredible success with her exceptional album “21”.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases. SME’s also produce 80% of Europe’s jobs. Their potential is enormous but is hampered by complex barriers to trade and severe market access problems. The impact on diversity, consumer choice and pluralism is clear. Over 95% of what most people hear and see, whether on radio, retail or the internet, is concentrated in the hands of four multinationals, known as the majors.
Cultural and creative SMEs are now officially recognised by the EU as “the drivers of growth, job creation and innovation”. IMPALA expects the EC and its member countries to put in place key investment, digital and market access measures. Fostering Europe's economy of culture and diversity is one of the EU's top priorities in becoming the world's leading knowledge economy. Culture is a bigger earner than any of chemicals, automobiles or ICT manufacturing and provides more than 3% of Europe's jobs. IMPALA has its own award schemes to help promote cultural diversity and new talent and highlight the artistic contribution of independent music. IMPALA award winning artists include Efterklang, Adele, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Agnes Obel, Caro Emerald and Sigur Ros.