To reduce our carbon footprint, IMPALA’s annual report goes online this year. We hope you like the horizontal format. You can download it here as a PDF document, we would just ask you to avoid printing if possible. Keep in mind that some of the resources mentioned are only available to IMPALA members. Enjoy the read.

Helen Smith, IMPALA Executive Chair

“Building on our mission to be a leader, IMPALA took the opportunity to strike a new path again this year on issues which we believe are crucial to our key objective – taking risks for our artists and maximising their revenues and growing our sector in a strong, sustainable and diverse way. Here is an overview of IMPALA’s main work over the past 12 months.”

10-step plan to reform streaming

We developed a ten-point plan to reform streaming – including ending safe harbours, calling on labels to pay artists a fair contemporary digital rate (rejecting equitable remuneration as streaming is not radio), encouraging differentiation in rates by services, opposing Spotify’s payola practices and much more (see our statement).

Covid-19 – the road to recovery

We released a new call for action which focusses on  weathering the ongoing crisis, coordination, touring revival, recovery and growth. With members’ help, we updated our covid website in parallel. IMPALA worked with other organisations from the sector to call on the EU and its member states to put culture at the core of their recovery plans (e.g. here and here), as well as other initiatives (here and here).

Copyright – still a main focus

Copyright remained a top priority as member states had until June 2021 to transpose the EU Copyright directive nationally. Only a few managed in time. Our message was constant –  adopt the text faithfully.  Our implementation guidelines were essential reading in 2021 and we worked hard with other stakeholders on the EC’s own guidance, plus other topics like the Digital Services Act.


Maximising revenues, saying no to “equitable“ remuneration

One of our members’ jobs is to earn as much money as possible for their artists. This is part of what labels provide that’s indispensable alongside risk taking, investment, experience, as well as identity with what a label stands for. We want streaming to be reformed to help improve revenues. Our ten-point plan jumped into the debate to:
– ask all record labels to pay artists a fair contemporary digital rate.

– ask services to differentiate in how revenue is generated and allocated between artists – Pro Rata Temporis, Active Engagement, Artist Growth, etc (point 3 of our plan).
– reject “equitable remuneration”, in line with the EU copyright directive. We believe it just isn’t “equitable”. There isn’t any differentiation, plus it cuts across our job of earning more for featured artists and taking risks with emerging artists.

Our one-pager on performer remuneration is a good illustration of the issues at stake. This is also key in the streaming inquiry in the UK, where the parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee released a report in favour of equitable remuneration. See our statement in reaction. IMPALA contributed to the financing of a study commissioned by AIM in the UK on their Artist Growth Model, see more here.  

Making touring great again – fixing Brexit along the way

Our new touring working group launched in June is working on a brand-new touring proposal together with IAO – representing featured artists. The idea is to create a new cultural area with a single touring permit for the whole of geographical Europe (EU, Switzerland and other EFTA countries not in the EEA, Western Balkans etc) instead of treating Europe as a number of distinct blocs and countries. 

It is known as the GECAT Pass (literally for geographical Europe cultural area touring) (see statement here and one pager here). Although our proposal is not targeting the UK specifically, it could be a way to fix some of the issues created by Brexit. Indeed, despite a deal struck at the eleventh hour between the EU and UK, artist mobility isn’t covered in the 

agreement, creating many obstacles to touring. At the same time, we called UK and EU officials to regroup on their trade agreement. IMPALA also joined over 100 cultural and creative organisations from both sides of the Atlantic in a call to support EU-US cultural relations, including the reduction of obstacles to visas and work permits.

Broadcast and performance monies and the USA – reciprocal treatment is the key

Our work during the year (see herehere and here) to prevent European performers and labels losing €125 million a year of broadcast and performance monies is paying off, as the EC has acknowledged that there are issues and will launch a study. Local campaigns also increase pressure, so speak up, even in countries making payments to the USA. Of course, we also support the US call for domestic rights.

One Step Ahead again in digital…

This year marked the launch of our One Step Ahead project, a digital intelligence facility launched in partnership with CMU and with the support of Merlin. The aim of this project is to help keep members one step ahead in the digital market, by identifying key digital trends and allowing them to make the most of digital opportunities. See all webinars and reports here and watch this space for more!

Climate action leaps ahead

Sustainability was another priority this year (see here and here), setting an overall ambition of a climate positive sector by 2030 with an interim net zero target for 2026 (voluntary, recognising every company and country is different). We introduced a climate chartervoluntary guidance, voluntary climate declaration for members and started work on a bespoke carbon calculator.

Boosting diversity and inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion were high on our agenda. We adopted a charter with twelve commitments (to report on annually) and released the first European sector surveyVick Bain and Arit Eminue started training sessions for members and we issued practical tips. We also activated our network and developed specific guidance for associations. We supported the MEWEM mentoring programme and other sector work.

Collecting societies

IMPALA’s collecting society code of conduct was reviewed, along with proposed modifications to IFPI’s own guidance. We worked with WIN, attended IFPI’s performance rights meetings and also VPL’s distribution meetings about MTV. With AIM we reported regularly on joint projects supported by PPL – a great model for other countries. We also started preparing for the EU’s review of the collective rights management directive.


Back to school with IMPALA Campus

Our training project for recorded music professionals and self-releasing artists had a successful run with 40 participants from diverse backgrounds. Funded under the EU’s Music Moves Europe programme, participants were trained and mentored by some of the industry’s top experts and feedback was very positive. You can find more information about the Campus project on our dedicated website.

It’s all in the stats…

We partnered with GESAC on an EY study on Europe’s thriving cultural and creative economy before the pandemic, and the staggering impact of venue and shop closures and other measures. Members also contributed to a study by Oxford Economics commissioned by IFPI, showing that the music sector supports two million jobs and contributes €81.9 billion annually to the economy across the 27 EU Member States and the UK.

Biggest-ever top-up for EU’s culture programme

Part of our recovery strategy is to push for increased EU funding for culture, including in the EU’s flagship investment programme InvestEU (see here). Creative Europe, the EU’s culture programme, saw its biggest-ever top-up, reaching €2.4bn! With first calls open in June, we circulated a note and held a member meeting to discuss ideas. The EU’s research and innovation fund Horizon Europe also got a new €2.3bn creative industry cluster.


Competition moves – regulators are busy

Regulators were warned of various moves this year. Tencent bought a 20% stake in Universal, Sony acquired key independents across the globe, including Kobalt’s AWAL, which the UK competition authority contacted us about. We also raised Spotify’s Discovery Mode, tantamount to payola, as well as Square’s investment in Tidal, and welcomed the EC’s proposal for a new framework on platform accountability.

IMPALA’s 20th anniversary blog is a hit…

IMPALA has been celebrating with a year-long series of interviews, posts, playlists, and a monthly round up newsletter
20MinutesWith is IMPALA’s podcast series, curated by Juliana Koranteng
20Tracks is a series of language and genre playlists, while 20ThingsToKnow is a journey of discovery of the independent sector across the whole of Europe. See the #IMPALA20 blog here.

Awarding talent

Our awards work remains important to us, not just IMPALA awards, but also supporting others in the sector. When it comes to the Album of the Year Award, the shortlist had 25 albums. The winner selected by the jury was Austrian band My Ugly Clementine for “Vitamin C“, released on Austrian record label Ink Music.

Our Outstanding Contribution Award went to the #LoveRecordStores campaign launched by PIAS’ Jason Rackham and his team in December and in May we also awarded Tom Deakin, see more under “Merlin”.

Our Executive Chair Helen was part of the ANCHOR (Reeperbahn Festival International Music Award) jury again this year and it was a hard task choosing among Europe’s finest artists – follow Reeperbahn for this year’s announcement!

We were also part of the organising coalition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards, held digitally in January 2021 in partnership with both Eurosonic Noorderslag and Reeperbahn festival. A total of sixteen outstanding artists were nominated for the award, and you can see the list of winners here.

Growing the independent family

IMPALA welcomed new members in Ireland (with the brand-new Irish association AIM Ireland) and in Russia (with record label and publisher Blue Sun). Work continues in territories such as Slovakia and Turkey, where brand new associations are expected to be launched in the coming months. Contacts are also ongoing in Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Bulgaria, leading us to expect further expansion in the near future.

Merlin collaboration grows

Merlin and IMPALA continue working closely together, with IMPALA recently awarding Tom Deakin, their former Director of Global Member Relations, its Outstanding Contribution Award. We have regular meetings as part of our digital committee with Jim Mahoney and also highlighted the advantages trade associations have within Merlin. Have a look here and make sure you are informed!

Your data counts…

This year IMPALA continued its work as key contributor to the worldwide network as part of WIN and on the board. We also supported the WINTEL survey, aiming to map the global independent sector. IMPALA called on its members to submit data to have a complete picture of the independent sector’s value. This is crucial if we are to succeed in implementing our key priorities.