Geoff Taylor, CEO of UK Labels Trade Body BPI, is stepping down

LONDON — BPI’s CEO Geoff Taylor says he will step down next year after more than 15 years at the helm of the UK brand trade body.

Taylor says he intends to move into a “more directly commercial role” after leaving the London-based organisation, although he gave no indication of what his next post will be.

The BPI appointed Taylor as chief executive in 2007. The label trade body represents the UK arms of all three major labels as well as UK independents.

Taylor’s time at the helm of BPI coincided with a period of transformation in the record industry, driven by the shift from physical CDs to digital downloads and then streaming as the dominant methods of music consumption.

During this period, the BPI fought a long and successful campaign against online music piracy, obtaining blocking orders for several illegal peer-to-peer and stream-ripping sites. The organization also negotiated significant reforms to global policies for Google, YouTube, Facebook and online advertising networks to better protect music rights by targeting illegal websites for search engine demotion and disrupting their funding.

The UK now has the third-lowest music piracy rate in the world, says the BPI, which has submitted more than a billion infringing music links to search engines for delisting on behalf of UK artists and labels. In 2020, the organization said it was the world’s second-highest remover of illegal content from Google, behind anti-piracy company Rivendell.

As well as fighting piracy, Taylor’s lobbying skills won industry and government support for the extension of copyright on music recordings from 50 years to 70 years – a major victory for artists, record companies and performers, which was passed into UK law in 2013.

Last year, Taylor gave evidence at the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) committee’s inquiry into the economics of music streaming. Appearing before committee members, Taylor spoke on behalf of UK artists and record labels, fighting against “distortions” in the digital market caused by UGC services such as YouTube, which use safe harbor protection to enable them to pay lower royalty rates than subscription services such as Spotify and Deezer.

As CEO of the BPI, Taylor also acts as CEO of the BRIT Awards, the UK’s biggest annual music awards show, and the Mercury Prize, its independent sister event, which recognizes what judges judge to be the 12 best albums of the year by British and Irish artists.

Over the past decade, Taylor has steered the modernization of the BRIT Awards and significantly grown its international profile and global reach via partnerships with digital services YouTube, Roblox and TikTok.

Although UK TV ratings for of this year The BRIT Awards fell to 2.7 million, down from 2.9 million the previous year, there were more than 16 million views of BRIT-related videos on TikTok on the day of the show. Adele‘I Drink Wine’s performance has since been viewed more than 18 million times on YouTube. (There were more than 30 million total YouTube views of performances from this year’s show.)

Prior to leading BPI, Taylor was general counsel and executive vice-president of the International Recording Industry Association IFPI. He also worked as general counsel at BPI and legal counsel at IFPI earlier in his career.

Taylor says he plans to stay in the job until early 2023 — the BPI’s 50th anniversary year — to help the BPI’s newly appointed chairman Yolanda Brown find a suitable successor.

In his announcement, Taylor said it has “been a great privilege to lead the BPI at such a transformational period for British music”, but after much consideration he has decided that “15 years is enough for any moderately sensible individual and that now the time to use my experience more directly in a commercial environment.”

The British bosses of all three major brands paid tribute.

Tony Harlowchief executive of Warner Music UK, said Taylor’s “insightful and forward-thinking leadership benefited the industry as it navigated enormous challenges over the past 15 years” and helped “ensure a sustainable and growing music industry in our country.”

Jason Ileychairman and chief executive of Sony Music UK, said the outgoing chief executive tirelessly “led the BPI with a tight grip on the big issues” and the whole industry has benefited from its work to fight piracy, showcase British talent and campaign for export financing from the British government.

David Josephchairman and chief executive of Universal Music UK, said Taylor has made “a significant contribution to our industry” and thanked him for his “calm leadership, insight and dedicated work in support of labels across the country.”

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