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The Irish Music Rights Organisation is calling on all political parties to prioritise the development of the Irish music industry, as part of their General Election 2016 campaigns.

Ireland has an abundance of creative talent and is well-represented on the world stage in every genre of music. We believe that decision-makers must now consider how best to nurture this talent.

The next Government and Ireland’s political system must prioritise the development and support of music in Ireland, a sector which delivers almost half a billion euro to the economy annually, employs over 11,000 people and contributes to the economy from a taxation and services perspective, as well as indirectly, through tourism, technology and other areas. Supporting the music industry in Ireland presents a significant opportunity for growth, for economic benefit and for job creation.

Music is not a hobby. It is a viable career, and Ireland’s musicians are entrepreneurs who need support. Of those who registered their occupation as musician in the last Census, 69% are self-employed. Many are employed in micro-enterprises and small and medium enterprises.

These musicians have been impacted in terms of access to finance and a reduction in income, like many self-employed people and SMEs nationwide.

They need significant and coordinated policy, just like SMEs do.

A coordinated, national policy must be developed. It must take into account the real need for improvement in a variety of areas including education and training, finance, export support, marketing and intellectual property, for example.

By establishing the appropriate policy environment and supporting the sector, there will be dividends for the nation’s finances and for job creation, both directly and indirectly.

Our ask of political parties

IMRO is focused on promoting the value of music to the creative, cultural and importantly, to the business communities in Ireland.

We welcome the work underway at the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and other Departments, to promote Ireland’s culture through Culture Ireland, Culture 2025 and other initiatives and we recognise that there is a small number of funding streams available for musicians, but what is missing is a real and coordinated strategy for the music sector.

It is not enough to bundle music in with the Arts in Ireland. When we look at the support that the Irish film industry has received, and the dividends that that support is delivering, it makes absolute sense for the music industry to receive similar attention.

We believe now is the time for political representatives, as representatives of the people of Ireland, to demonstrate that they really value music in the same way that Irish people do.

At IMRO, we suggest a number of practical, simple recommendations that if implemented, could have a real and positive impact on Ireland’s music sector in the future.

These include:

Access to Finance

Income streams related to musical works tend to be highly variable from year to year at all levels of the music industry. This can put significant pressure on artists and composers, particularly those earning lower levels of income.

Banks and financial institutions do not always recognise the full economic value of entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries, and the fact that their assets are intangible – creativity, copyright etc., – and difficult to access, may be a factor in this. It is therefore difficult for music entrepreneurs to access finance from these institutions, access credit and sustain cash-flow in order to maintain their businesses and sustain jobs.

In addition, State funding of music is dispersed through a number of different bodies and tends to focus on cultural, rather than commercial opportunities.

We are asking all political parties to focus on the following recommendations:

  • Engage with financial institutions to ensure that the measures they are taking to support and help small and medium enterprises in terms of accessing finance, also apply to self-employed music entrepreneurs and SMEs;
  • Amend Artists’ taxation exemption relief to allow utilisation of the relief across a number of years assisting individuals to manage the cyclical nature of the industry;
  • Retain the Employment and Investment Incentive funding taxation relief and promote this funding mechanism within the music industry.

 Market Access

While the Irish music market is diverse, it is small and therefore artists need to be in a position to access international markets, in addition to the Irish market. However, it can be difficult for music entrepreneurs to be aware of, or to access, the supports that are available to them, both in Ireland and overseas. The export opportunity for the music sector is significant and should be recognised, similar to other sectors such as food. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden and Canada have all recognised the importance of exports for the music sector. For example, the UK has a number of tailored sources of funding available from a £3 million export fund for musicians.

  • A focus needs to be placed on supporting and growing a music export industry to help Irish artists to tap into overseas markets. IMRO recommends the development of trade links and provision of export grants to artists and SMEs in the industry seeking to access overseas markets.
  • Establish a central office for overseas promotion of Irish music.

Intellectual Property

While internet sales of music are rising, physical record sales have fallen dramatically in recent years. This has a significant impact on revenue streams within the industry, with significant levels of revenue being lost to piracy. Against this backdrop, it is important that intellectual property legislation is robust enough to ensure the creative rights of musicians in Ireland are protected. Protecting artists’ intellectual property will have a knock-on effect in terms of job retention and creation.

Recommendation:

  • Strengthen intellectual property legislation, as a priority to protect IP;
  • Increase an awareness amongst musicians of options to exploit and manage IP.

Education and Training

In a fast-moving industry that never stands still, ongoing education, training and skills development are vital for the healthy cultivation of all elements of a successful music industry. There is a skills gap and musicians need access to training in business development, IP management and finance among other issues, as well as access to advanced training and education such as master classes by experienced music professionals.

By supporting the sector as a viable career option, it will help ensure that jobs are protected, and that new employment can be created.

We are asking all political parties to focus on the following recommendation:

  • Promote music as a viable career option by developing advanced training courses for music professionals on the ‘business of music’ including finance training, IP, market access advice and business development training.

 

About IMRO

IMRO’s research shows that by supporting the music sector through the Action Plan for Jobs 2015, there could be an initial increase in employment by 500 – 800 jobs, with further growth in the medium to long term. Ensuring that policy and financial conditions are right to support the music industry, its exports and to help make music a viable career option, could lead to significant economic opportunities.

IMRO is a national not-for-profit organisation that administers the performing right in musical works in Ireland on behalf of its members (who are songwriters, composers and music publishers) and on behalf of the songwriters, composers and music publishers of the international overseas societies that are affiliated to it. Music users such as broadcasters, venues and businesses must pay for their use of copyright music by way of a blanket licence fee. IMRO collects these monies and distributes them to the songwriters, composers and music publishers who created the songs. The monies earned by copyright owners in this way are known as public performance royalties.

IMRO is prominently involved in the sponsorship and promotion of music in Ireland. Every year it sponsors a large number of song contests, music festivals, seminars, workshops, research projects and showcase performances in Ireland.

 

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