Letter: Decline of British popular music

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The Independent Online
Sir: The points made in your article concerning the decline in the position of British popular music within the US market ('The sound of an export business biting the dust', 23 February) will no doubt strike a chord with many struggling musicians who could revive this lucrative export business if given a chance to do so.

Two things militate against the success of new groups achieving a place in the national and international market: (i) a lack of funding during their development phase which means that most musicians cannot devote themselves full-time to their art, and (ii) the appalling lack of business skill among the A&R and talent scouts who control the funds that allow the entry of new talent into the industry. Whereas Britain led the world in pop 'culture' in the Sixties and Seventies, the cynical misuse of marketing by music companies has favoured the creation of bland, undistinguished and uncompetitive pop 'product' in the Nineties.

I have always been astonished that whereas there is public funding to support minority arts activities, such as avant-garde dance and classical music groups, there is no funding available to support an art form which is capable of generating, quite literally, astounding returns on public investment. I am even more astonished to think that a pounds 2bn industry is not without some form of support or direction from central government if it is indeed headed for decline.

The music industry is just like any other industry - it requires investment and management skill in order to compete both nationally and internationally. It is about time that the profits taken from consumers of CDs and taxes levied on music corporations were used for research and development and an improvement in the management skill-base of the industry. Perhaps the DTI should become seriously interested in devising incentives in order to facilitate this?

Yours sincerely,

LOUIS DAVID BERK

Wembley, Middlesex

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