The BPI UK (British Phonographic Industry)

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The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry, also referred to as the British Phonographic Industry) is the British recorded music industry’s trade body.

The BPI UK (British Phonographic Industry)

What is the BPI?

The BPI (British Recorded Music Industry, also referred to as the British Phonographic Industry, or BPI) is the British recorded music industry’s trade body. It was first formed in 1973, originally with a goal of preventing copyright infringement and to “discuss matters of common interest and represent the British record industry in negotiations with Government departments, relevant unions and other interested parties and to promote the welfare and interests of the British record industry.” (Source: UK Music 2013).

It now represents the interests of the British recorded music industry and has around 400 members from independent labels and the main major record companies such as Sony Music UK, Warner Music UK and Universal Music UK. Its members are collectively responsible for the production of around 85% of all UK music sold.

What does the BPI Do?

The vision and mission of the BPI is to help record companies achieve better business outcomes and enable them to remain a world leader in the global music marketplace. They do this by providing a range of services to their members which includes copyright protection & legal guidance, government lobbying, by producing British music industry research and insights and by offering export advice, education, training and practical support.

The BPI is technically a not for profit company. This means that any money it makes is not given to investors by way of profits, or dividends but instead the money is used to grow the company and further support its mission and objectives. The BPI London offices can be found at; Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JA. Telephone +44 (0)20 7803 1300

The BPI has a board or council leadership team which comprises members from all sides of the British music industry. Council member names are as follows;

Adam Barker – Universal Music UK, Alice Dyson-Jones – One Media IP, Alistair Norbury – BMG, David Joseph – Universal Music UK, Henry Semmence – Absolute Label Services, Iain McNay – Cherry Red Records, James Radice – Warner Music UK, Jason Iley – Sony Music UK, Max Lousada – Warner Music UK, Nick Hartley – PIAS, Nicola Tuer – Sony Music UK, Vanessa Higgins – Regent Street Records, Geoff Taylor – Chief executive officer, BPI and BRIT Awards Limited, Ged Doherty – Chairman, BPI and BRIT Awards Limited and Kiaron Whitehead – General counsel, BPI.

BPI Rates and Registration

There are 3 tiers of BPI membership.

Full Membership for UK copyright owners – £67.50 (£81 including VAT)

This is specifically aimed at record companies that license or own UK sound recording copyrights.

A current discount is given of 10% for independent member subscriptions plus 3% PPL UK distribution payments plus VAT.

Associate Membership – Annual subscription £500 (£600 including VAT)

This is for companies who don’t exclusively license UK sound recording copyrights. They are not eligible to vote or stand for election to the BPI council.

Staff Membership – Included

Specifically for staff who work for member companies.

The Mastercard BRIT Awards

The first ever ITV BRIT awards were held in 1977 and subsequently became an annual event known as The BRIT Awards in 1989. Its long sponsorship arrangement with Mastercard continues today and over the years the event has had its share of stars and unexpected events including brit awards performers Jarvis Cocker’s famous Michael Jackson protest and a rare appearance from Freddie Mercury.

Both the BRIT Awards and the Classic BRIT Awards are a celebration of British emerging talent and industry success and continue to be a highlight in the UK music industry’s calendar.

The Hyundai Mercury Prize

The October Hyundai Mercury Prize awards first appeared in 1992 and were created to showcase the best of UK and Irish music, the best albums of the year and promote a wide selection of music genres to the public. The prize is highly regarded and is open to any genre of music by any British, or Irish, band.

The Mercury album of the year shortlist is chosen by a diverse, independent music industry panel and bands and artists achieving an Album of the Year Award can experience significant industry exposure and a subsequent increase in album sales. Elbow reported a 700% album sales increase after they won an award in 2008 for The Seldom Seen Kid. Other winners who have seen their sales skyrocket include; The Arctic Monkeys debut album (2006), Pulp (1998), Franz Ferdinand (2004), Portishead (1995) and Primal Scream (1992). Sampha in (2017) and Skepta (2016) are the most recent artists who have financially benefited from the prize publicity. Each winner wins a trophy and the overall Mercury Prize winner also receives a £25k cheque.

Look out for the forthcoming shortlisted artists for the Brit Awards 2019.

The BRIT Trust

Money made from both annual awards are donated to the BRIT Trust; a charity formed by the British record business together with the BPI in 1989. To date, the Trust has received £20 million in donations. The original aims were to set up a government-funded CTC, or City Technology College which became the BRIT school; opening in 1991. 2016 saw the celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Government funding has reduced over the last few years which has resulted in cutbacks on staff and resources and reliance on donations. The Trust sponsors the school’s activities and has donated around £9.5m to date and continues to do so the tune of £500,000 per year. At present, funds are needed on an ongoing basis to support the 400 or so public performances and activities the school provides annually. BRIT Silver is a funding initiative which aims to raise £3 million over the next 3 years to subside school activities.

The BRIT Silver individual donation document is available to download from here.

The Official Charts

The official UK Chart is co-owned by the BPI and the Entertainment Retailer’s Association, (ERA). The charts commission, distribute, market and promote the UK Chart, industry data. The OCC is made of several different charts including the UK Singles Chart, UK Singles Downloads Chart, UK Album Downloads Chart plus other charts which are more genre specific. Recent process changes have acknowledged the rise in music streaming and how this affects chart positioning and assessing the ration of streams to individual record sales.

BPI Certification

‘Artists and their labels value the recognition of their recording successes through an official certification, and a Platinum, Gold or Silver disc on the wall is an iconic memento of musical achievement’

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards

The certification scheme first appeared in 1973 and came about to aid promotion to a wider BRIT Awards audience. Artists and bands received either a Silver, Gold or Platinum disc based on record sales figures. Last year the scheme was re-branded as the BRIT Certified Platinum, Gold and Silver Awards for both singles and albums.

Digital download sales were incorporated from 2004 onwards. In July 2013 ‘auto-certification’ was introduced to allow matching to specific awards sales thresholds. In 2014 streaming was introduced into single certifications and albums during 2015. The scheme awards continue to use sales data from the OCC, The Official Charts Company and now fully acknowledge digital sales in addition to physical copies sold.

Among the first to receive the newly BRIT Certified Platinum Singles Award was Stormzy for ft. MNEK Blinded by Your Grace Part 2 and The Weekend’s Starboy gained the Album Award.

Sales thresholds for each category are:


Platinum: 600,000 units
Gold: 400,000 units
Silver: 200,000 units


Platinum: 300,000
Gold: 100,000
Silver: 60,000

BPI Trade Missions

In order to better aid the UK record industry, the BPI has embarked on a number of trade missions, with the objective of supporting the growth of UK music exports throughout the globe. These trade missions are carried away in collaboration with the Department of International Trade (DIT) and oftentimes include other UK trade organizations, such as the Association of Independent Music (AIM) and the Music Publishers Association (MPA).

Following this initiative, the BPI co-hosts the yearly LA Sync Licensing Mission, where British music industry professionals are given a great insight into the ins and outs the lucrative American sync licensing market. Here, the attendees can learn from a number of key speakers, panel discussions, practical sessions and business meetings. This event helps create synergy between the two leading music markets in the world, the US and the UK. It also aims at giving UK artists a hand up when it comes to music licensing their songs in American films, series and adverts.

There are many other trade missions organised by the BPI that help funnel UK music into foreign markets. The two missions of greatest importance are the one in China and the one in India. As the top two emerging economies—as well as the most populous countries—winning these markets over is going to be of key importance to the UK record industry. These missions are relatively new. The Chinese mission is only on its 3rd year. These missions will allow British music to pierce into these emerging markets, which are predicted to grow by 17% between 2018 and 2020.

Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS)

The scheme is funded by the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and provides funding grants with the intention of increasing sales through marketing, audience engagement, development and export practices. Its aimed at small to medium independent music companies (SME’s), with a turnover of less than €50 million and fewer than 250 employees who have had UK success. Grants are available from £5000 to £50,000.

The applications will be reviewed by a  panel of music industry experts who will consider the eligibility and the potential of the campaign. The chairman of this panel is Music Lawyer and CEO of the IFPI, John Kennedy OBE. The panel also relies on a number of organizations to choose the best candidates, such as the Music Managers Forum (MMF), the Featured Artist Coalition (FAC) and the AIM.

“This scheme is a fantastic opportunity for British companies looking for that bit of extra help that might make all the difference when they are promoting their artists overseas. Many of our smaller labels punch above their weight when it comes to discovering and nurturing great new music, but it can be a real challenge for them to translate UK achievements into international success given the high costs involved.”

Geoff Taylor Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards

In 2018 twenty acts received MEGS grants totally £294,583. Since its inception in 2014, the scheme (which is managed by the BPI) has granted £2.6 million to 178 successful applicants. 2018 beneficiaries included The Editors, Nina Nesbit, Paul Draper, Jones and Shame. MEGS provides a way for the UK to continue to safeguard its reputation as a leading exporter of UK music.

Applications are currently open until February 4th for the first round of 2019 funding and the link can be found here.

BPI Innovation Hub

In 2016 the BPI launched a new technology related, a collaborative working initiative called the BPI Innovation Hub. Led by Vanessa Higgins (Innovation Hub Director and Manager of Regent Street and Gold Bar Records), the hub aims to facilitate creative business partnerships between tech companies and record companies. The hub meets on a quarterly basis to facilitate, network and take forward ideas which will ensure the longevity of the UK commercial music industry. The initiative includes BPI training and support for its members.

Those present at the first hub meeting in November 2016 included Absolute, Different, [PIAS], and Sony Music Entertainment UK, Believe, BMG, Def Disco and also tech companies such as Music Gateway and Mativision.

The April meeting called ‘Where Tech Meets Tech’ was hosted by Digital Catapult at its offices in King’s Cross and was attended by Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries who said:

“We want the UK to be the best place in the world to trial pioneering technology and grow a digital business while maintaining our status as a global leader in artistic and cultural excellence.

“It is fantastic to see the work the BPI is doing to bring content providers together with tech entrepreneurs.  I welcome its initiative which, alongside our Culture Is Digital programme, will help both sectors grasp commercial opportunities now and in the future. This move will also cement our place as a creative powerhouse in the digital age.” Margot James, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries.

BPI Music Insights

The BPI produces a detailed analysis of UK music trends by way of a yearbook; the 39th edition entitled – All About The Music 2018. It’s packed with useful information about the size of the UK music market, is free to its members and can also be purchased in physical and digital format through the BPI online shop.

Key findings from this report for based on revenue figures suggests;

  • 10.6% upturn in recorded music revenue to £839.5 Million; the highest growth since 1995
  • £840M revenue generated from digital streams and sync
  • A 45% increase in streaming service subscriptions and an improvement in vinyl sales UK and record sales UK
  • Of the top ten selling albums of 2017, eight were by British artists
  • One in every 15 albums purchased was vinyl

Fighting Anti-Piracy

The BPI has been very proactive in fighting anti-piracy and plays a key role in issuing takedown notices against websites and companies that feature copyright infringing material. This has famously included Google who was forced to remove pirated content.  It continues to play and key role regularly lobby parliament about its impact both in Europe and in Westminster. Anti-piracy payments taken from major and independent label members have significantly increased from £1.55m to £3.32m to help fight the cause.

In 2015 the BPI launched a Copyright Protection Portal which helps musicians, labels and other music companies see “where illegal copies of their music are being made available illegally online and track how BPI is responding”.The portal will ensure greater transparency and simplify the process of tracking piracy services that are distributing their content and which search engines are linking to infringing sites. The BPI’s anti-piracy systems then take steps through infringement notices to remove it all.

To join and access the BPI logo, BPI news, BPI photos and BPI registration, here are some helpful links.

BPI Login

BPI Awards

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