The importance of a European support programme for music
The independents are seeking above all a status as a cultural industry worth defending and promoting as part of Europe’s cultural policy.
The music sector merits not only an EU programme comparable to Media, which supports the audiovisual sector and cinema, but also similar prioritisation in the development of EU policies. It is important to stress the following:
- Both the music and the film sector are heavily concentrated. On one side there are seven Hollywood majors controlling 80% of the market; on the other there are four majors all based in New York (apart from EMI) with a similar worldwide market share. Market concentration marginalizes the independents and has a result of limiting the choice and diversity of music being offered to the public.
- As in the film sector, the music market is essentially composed of small and medium size companies. Many are even micro enterprises producing few records a year. They are all, almost without fail, undercapitalised.They are unable to compete with the majors essentially in term of marketing spends (which have doubled over the last 10 years). As a result they suffer tremendous market access problems both locally and within the European market. As for cinema local music hardly circulates within Europe.
- As for audiovisual the European music market is open to international competition. However the market share of European music in the US (95%) is almost the same as for films 97%. We have in music like in film a large trade imbalance in favour of the US and tremendous problem accessing the largest market in the world. Therefore the importance of promoting cultural diversity at international trade level applies to music as well as to audiovisual.
We require support at EU level as part as of the latter’s ambition to sustain cultural diversity and a competitive industry in a knowledge based society.
A European music policy should seek to:
- Encourage cross border distribution of local musical repertoire. If encouraging the promotion of a Greek film in Denmark is a sensible objective the same surely applies for Greek music.
- Promote European music and music diversity. Music is a shared heritage that abolished frontiers. J.S Bach, Mozart, the Beatles are illustrious European characters contributing to a European identity.
- Train professionals to the specificity of the local markets (as for films, the single market benefits mainly the US repertoire not the local European repertoire even one belonging to the majors’ European subsidiaries).
- Support retailers in the same way as the EU supports Europa Cinema Networks (today specialist music retailers represent only 11% of sales).
- Promote use of new technologies and allow industry to adapt to the challenge of the digital revolution. Music is a battle field for all digital content distribution.
- Support better financing and investment in a sector misunderstood by traditional financial institutions.
- Improve education and awareness of the importance of rewarding creativity to ensure sustainability and diversity.
- End fiscal discrimination (VAT, tax breaks).
- The sector urgently requires an EU music programme that could help tackle the above structural deficiencies.