Thursday, October 31, 2013

The end of the European Music Office

By Emmanuel Legrand

The European Music Office in Brussels is closing down. At times when digital services are beefing up their troops in Brussels, this is quite unfortunate and sends very negative messages.

For most in the music business, this organisation was unknown. Yet, it served a purpose. There are several bodies representing the interests of the various constituents of the music community in Brussels: IFPI and Impala for record labels, ECSA for artists, ICMP for music publishers and GESAC for authors' societies, among others. 

But the EMO was different in that it did not have a strict “political” agenda. It was the voice through which European authorities could be evangelised about today's music business and understand certain issues, especially those linked to the circulation of artists within the European Union.

The EMO was set up over a decade ago by the late Jean-Francois Michel, with the support of a few backers. His reasoning was that while the film industry enjoyed significant support from the European Union, the music industry received virtually no support from Europe. And something needed to be done.

Michel set shop in Brussels and started to “massage” the European Commission. There were a few positive outcomes, first of which were the European Border Breakers Awards, supported by the EC. Another important purpose served by the EMO was to feed information and dat to the Commission. This was the reason why the EMO undertook the massive research on the circulation of European artists within the European Union penned by yours truly.

With this regard, the EMO was pushing hard for the EC to adopt a music-related programme to help the circulation of repertoire across Europe. We're still far from it and without an organisation to bang the drums about its need on a daily basis, the likelihood of seeing the Commission's doing something is quite remote.

Time shave been hard recently for the EMO with sources of financing drying out, leading to drastic measures. Staff is now gone and a board meeting next week will pronounce the end of this initiative.

Aside from tearing down Michel's dream, it shows that the music industry is not capable of financing an outpost that can speak to the European Commission about today's music business from a cross-industry perspective. And anything that reduces today the visibility of the music community in Brussels is not helpful.

It's a sad outcome.

[Typed while listening to Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor' (Merge)]

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