Music stars are urging David Cameron to take urgent steps to combat web piracy when the Prime Minister stages a record industry summit on Thursday.
Alex Kapranos, the Franz Ferdinand singer, said the British music industry, which had provided thousands of jobs over the years, was now in danger of falling into terminal decline.
Cameron has invited industry figures, including representatives of the BPI, to a Downing Street breakfast where new measures to encourage legal digital music sales will be discussed.
The Government is expected to propose that broadband providers should create a database of customers illegally downloading music, films and books, which could be used to disconnect or prosecute persistent offenders.
Kapranos said ministers need to recognise the real value of UK popular music. “Up till now the Government has had a very dismissive attitude towards the music industry,” the singer told The Independent. “The politicians fear alienating their voters.”
Franz Ferdinand’s 2004 debut album sold 3.6 million copies worldwide, including 1.27 million in the UK alone. Their fourth release, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, although critically well-received entered the charts at number 6, selling fewer than 10,000 copies. The decline is in line with a global slump in album sales over the past seven years, which has particularly afflicted guitar bands.
Kapranos added: “I saw an old photograph where all the women were working in a factory pressing up copies of Rubber Soul and putting them into sleeves. (The image of workers producing The Beatles’ album was taken at EMI’s Hayes pressing plaint in 1965). This music industry in the UK in the past has supported so many people’s careers and livelihoods. Nowadays it feels like people don’t give a s***. That’s not cool.”
The singer said it was for “industry experts” to find a solution. “I’m just a singer,” he said.
The BPI will call on the Government to take swifter action to reduce online copyright theft and improve consumer awareness of legal services at the meeting.