Tag Archives: Jess Glynne

Photo of Gennaro Castaldo, director of communications at BPI and The BRITs organiser

What Does Creativity Mean To You: The BPI & BRITs Spokesperson

Gennaro Castaldo ran PR at HMV for 28 years, and was a frequent music industry spokesperson, before joining the BPI in 2013 as Director of Communications. The BPI organises The BRITs and Mercury Prize, co-owns the Official Charts and certifies platinum, gold and silver discs.

Photo of Gennaro Castaldo, director of communications at BPI and The BRITs organiser

CG: What are the challenges facing the music industry today?
GC: One of the key roles at the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) is about framing policy, shaping legislation and creating an environment in which our record label members can thrive by seeking protection for their copyright and intellectual property at UK and EU level.

We’re now seeing, mainly through streaming, people starting to pay for their music again in large numbers. Because what they want is for the sake of £9.99 – which is the typical cost of a subscription to Spotify or Apple Music, and now there’s also Deezer and TIDAL – is a connected, quality experience, free from ads, that they can switch seamlessly from different handheld devices to ones at home or in the car.

Those increased subscriptions are putting a significant amount of revenue back into recorded music. Last year we saw over ten per cent growth in revenues – the highest rate of growth in nearly 20 years. Record labels typically invest up to half their revenues in artist development and promotion,  resulting in more music and greater choice for fans.

Right now, there’s a big debate taking place between rightsholders and YouTube and their owners Google around a new EU copyright directive.

Record labels and other rightsholders across the creative industries want a level playing field that sees creators paid fairly for their work and online platforms take responsibility for the content they host and enable. However, YouTube has taken advantage of ‘safe harbour’ loopholes in EU legislation to pay a great deal less for the music they use.  Spotify and Apple are estimated to pay up to 16 times more for the same licensed track! It hardly seems fair.

CG: What does the future hold for the British music industry?
GC: The British music industry is actually the leading exporter of music around the world after the US, so we really punch above our weight. One in every eight albums consumed globally last year were by British artists. It means we can be optimistic about the prospects for British music, though we must avoid being complacent. It’s a real privilege to feel we’re at the heart of that whole process and that we are promoting British music.

We’re not just looking at the commercial aspect or entertainment factor behind music, however.  We are passionate about amplifying the power and value of music – whether it’s about giving people a voice, bringing communities together, or even helping to find solutions to problems such as dementia and mental health through providing an outlet. The BRITs help to fund the BRIT Trust music industry charity. It has distributed over £20 million over three decades to causes  that promote education and wellbeing through music, including The BRIT School, Nordoff Robbins music therapy, ELAM, and Key4Life.

CG: What can we look forward to with The BRITs 2019?
GC: The BRIT Awards is an amazing event broadcast live in the UK on ITV and streamed live around the world to over 100 countries via YouTube. And the red carpet arrivals can be followed live on Facebook, which is just one part of a growing digital engagement with a wider, younger audience. There have been some memorable ‘water-cooler’ moment over the years – everything ranging from famous autocue malfunctions to infamous political protests. Viewers seem to like the unexpected rather that the show being too slick.

There’s a healthy 50/50 split between female and male nominees. And about 36 per cent of all those nominations have a BME background as well, which is important to reflect. A past criticism was that we were out of touch with music such as grime and music at grassroots level, because the show is fairly mainstream reflecting mainly pop music. But it’s changed a lot and we’ve a real mix of nominations reflecting the diversity of British music.

This year we’ve got an amazing array of British talent being celebrated, probably the most Brits-leading event I’ve seen for a while.  So we’ve got George Ezra performing, with three nominations. We’ve also got a very strong female line-up performing, which includes Dua Lipa, Jess Glynne and Anne-Marie, who’s a newcomer.

The BRITs is a fantastic showcase for British music; not just the music but the way it’s actually produced and staged.

Last year Stormzy won two awards. It came as a bit of a surprise given he was taking on Ed Sheeran, but pleasantly so because The BRITs isn’t just about rewarding commercial success; but also about the album or artist that’s made a big statement that year. So that was a refreshing change, setting The BRITs on a new trajectory to the future. It’s something that we’re carrying on this year.

CG: Who are you most looking forward to seeing tonight?
Probably Calvin Harris, who’s a big global DJ/star and maybe not  as fully appreciated in his home country.  He’s never actually performed at The BRITs but is making his debut in a four-way collaboration involving Sam Smith, Dua Lipa and Rag‘n’Bone Man.

CG: And the winner is …?
GC: I think George Ezra is likely to do well, because he’s really having an amazing year.  But as for The 1975 and Dua Lipa … well, who knows?!

CG: Define what creativity means to you.
GC: So many of us see ourselves more as individuals with eclectic tastes; we don’t just fix on one area but have passions that cut across the whole creative divide.  Creativity is about giving expression to that whole range and depth of artistic achievement and endeavour.

Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance copywriter, as the sixth article in her series of blogs on what creativity means to people blazing the way in their particular field.

E: caroline@carolinegibson.co.uk T: +44 (0) 7957 567766

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