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Viviane Reding

European Commissioner for Education and Culture

Music in Europe

Conference organised in Brussels by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, in collaboration with the European Commission

Brussels, 13 October 2001

Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to congratulate the Belgian Presidency, and in particular Mr Miller and Mr Demotte, for this initiative which has brought us together today to discuss the subject of music in Europe.

From Gregorian chant to electronic music, music goes hand in hand with and moulds our cultures. It expresses both the richness of our traditions and the creative essence which sets each era apart. Music occupies a special position in Europe's cultural history because, very early on, it was a means of artistic expression which reached every corner of our continent. It also has an important place in our daily lives, because it is a universal language easily accessible to everybody.

Music is one domain in which the European cultural area is a practical reality: the variety of nationalities represented in orchestras and the choice of repertoire are striking illustrations of this.

There are many facets to music as an artistic activity: it is a fundamental aspect of our children's education and our leisure activities, but it is also an industry, and a competitive industry internationally, which is experiencing far-reaching and rapid upheaval. The European Union must be mindful of the need to include all these aspects of the music sector when taking action in the cultural sphere.

It is for all these reasons that I really welcome this meeting, and I will take particularly careful note of all the matters raised and debated today.

Before I let the professionals take over, I would like to talk briefly about what goes to make up the wealth and diversity of the music sector in Europe, because it is this which, while making our task in seeking cultural cooperation more complex, also makes it essential.

Especially in terms of its economic potential, the importance of music can be in no doubt.

Music and employment

A very recent Commission study indicates that the cultural sector currently employs 7.2 million people in the European Union, representing 4.6% of total employment. By employment in the cultural sector I mean everybody involved in the production of cultural goods and services in the broad sense. Between 1995 and 1999, the employment rate in this sector grew by 2.1% annually, and a steady growth in creative jobs is expected in the future, prompted by a strong demand for cultural products and services and characterised by the creation of jobs linked to the digitalisation of cultural products.

In 1998, the music industry alone employed an estimated 600 000 plus people in Europe: in the 10 countries for which the figures were available, these included around 46 500 professional classical musicians and 185 000 professional pop musicians, equivalent to 80 000 full-time jobs .

Apart from musicians, the live music sector employs a significant number of technicians and maintenance staff, as well as personnel involved in concert organisation and performers' agents. In the European Union, these functions are often performed by several thousand small companies.

Music in Europe is therefore a creator of jobs, and the sector's position on the world market coming second to the United States by only a few percent, with a market share of 32% demonstrates its remarkable competitiveness.

At the same time, the trend towards content demand at the expense of distribution is forcing out specialist music stores which are gradually giving way to superstores and online sales.

Music industry market

The IFPI's (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) latest publication on record industry statistics shows that, over the last decade, seven out of ten records sold in the world were by local artists. In Europe, 41% of the music sold comprised works by European artists. More generally, the European music market currently represents over 13.5 billion euros.

We have amazing examples of European successes on the world market: think of the British singer-songwriter Elton John whose name alone can attract 400 000 people to a concert in Central Park; or the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti whose success on the world stage for over 40 years is legendary.

Another name that comes to mind is Manu Chao: a European artist who sings in Spanish, Portuguese, French, English a real champion of linguistic diversity! and a splendid example of European music shaped by many influences which is listened to throughout the world.

Music and society

It is the coexistence of industry with live spectacle, cultural diversity with universality, professional with amateur participation, high technology with social dimension, etc., that characterises the music sector.

Music is the area of the arts with which everybody, and particularly young people, are most in contact in their daily lives.

Very many concerts are organised throughout Europe. Over the period 1994-1995, there were 85 000 classical music concerts and over 300 000 pop concerts in the European Union, which works out at over 1 000 concerts per day!

The European Union has almost 12 000 establishments involved in the public dissemination of music.

There is a highly developed amateur music culture. These amateur musicians are a driving element in the instrument making, music publishing and record markets and are a considerable source of jobs coaching, training activities, collaboration with professionals, etc.

In France, for example, 5 million over-15-year-olds have music as a leisure activity. Amateur music in France represents a market of 600 million euros per year, and around 60 000 jobs.

Music and the challenges posed by technology

A highly dynamic and diverse sector, music is also confronted by major technological challenges and developments to which the sector has to adjust very quickly.

In the music sector, the digital economy is already a fact of life. Today, music accounts for the greatest number of Internet transactions. Digital technology applied to music offers enormous potential, and Europe could occupy a prominent position in online music.

The digital revolution is changing production and distribution methods and raising new challenges: how to respond, how to grasp the opportunity offered to improve everybody's access to music while increasing the sector's competitiveness, encouraging the creation and maintenance of lasting structures, training professional artists and protecting their rights?

Europe is doing a great deal for music

In its conclusions of 18 December 1997 on the role of music in Europe, the Council of Culture Ministers emphasised the benefits of promoting the European music industry through a series of measures and I quote "conducive to the circulation, exchange and dissemination of repertoires, performances and artists in Europe, enhanced skills for artists and other music professionals, improved access to music for a wider public, with particular attention being given to musical education from a very young age".

Music is a field to which the European Union has always ascribed particular importance. Between 1996 and 1999, around 20% of projects selected under the various cultural programmes were in the music sector. Between 1991 and 1996, European cultural action financed this sector to the tune of 13.2 million euros. For example, the European Union has contributed to restoring historic theatres, such as the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and La Fenice in Venice, two prestigious concert halls which were damaged by fire in 1994 and 1996.

The Union also supports European orchestras. One example is the European Union Youth Orchestra, composed of 140 musicians aged between 14 and 23 selected every year from several thousand candidates. Those selected receive advanced training and intensive preparation for the Orchestra's tours during the year. Since it was created in 1976, at the initiative of the European Parliament, the Orchestra has performed in all Europe's major cities and festivals and on major tours throughout the world.

Via its "Culture 2000" programme, the Union also encourages cooperation between music ensembles in the context of joint projects: introduction to contemporary music or opera, tours and concerts, festivals, such as the Aix en Provence Festival of Lyric Arts, the World Music Days festival in Luxembourg, the Nuova Consonanza Festival in Rome, the Festival international des musiques d'aujourd'hui in Strasbourg, the Bergen Contemporary Music Festival, the Bach Festival in Leipzig, etc.

The "Culture 2000" programme puts the emphasis on artistic creation, the production and circulation of works. It supports contemporary creations, such as new forms of musical theatre or multimedia musical works, along with the production of classical or traditional works. In 2000, music was selected as one of the programme's priorities and almost 6 million euros were invested in the sector last year. The results of this aid have included the emergence of major multi-annual "cooperation agreements" between professionals in Europe, such as the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) project: this project, which is being supported for the period 2000 2002, is devoted to contemporary music and includes the creation of an original opera composed for the occasion by the Argentinian composer Mauricio Kagel, as well as a "Rising Stars" programme for young artists: each season, each member organisation of the network (11 concert halls in eight different Member States) selects a young soloist or ensemble who then has the opportunity to perform in some of Europe's best known concert halls and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Other European programmes also support measures to promote music in Europe, whether in the fields of new technologies, regional development or arts education.

As part of its regional policy, the European Union contributes to financing and restoring music schools, concert halls, recording studios, etc. Between 1989 and 1997, for example, the European Regional Development Fund granted some 38.3 million euros in subsidies to the music sector. One example is the PUZZEL project, which aims to turn the Swedish town of Hultsfred, already known as the Swedish centre of rock, into a real hub of industry, innovation and musical creation, and is partly financed by the European Union Structural Fund.

The development of multimedia and the possibility of distributing music via Internet or the mobile telephone networks is opening up new prospects for the commercial exploitation of music. As part of its research programme on the information society, the Commission is supporting projects experimenting with technologies for accessing, creating, protecting and distributing music on the digital networks. One such project is Wedelmusic, which is attempting to put in place the technology to enable music producers and consumers (orchestras, music schools, libraries, sellers, musicians, etc.) to work on multimedia applications to prepare concerts and study, analyse or disseminate music at low cost, in complete security, and in compliance with copyright. Through its eContent programme, the Union is also encouraging the production and commercial exploitation of European digital content, including music.

European support for music also takes the form of regulatory measures to facilitate the circulation of works and artists.

As I mentioned just now, the new technologies offer exceptional potential for musical works, but also present problems of copyright, such as the possibility of making digital copies. To encourage the creation, exploitation and circulation of works on the digital networks, in April 2001 the Union issued a new directive on copyright in the information society, which adds to the existing texts designed to harmonise the protection of copyright in Europe, and ensure fair remuneration for authors.

We are also working on improving mobility for professionals in the music sector and the circulation of live performances. The European Commission has initiated three studies to identify exactly where the obstacles to freedom of movement within the cultural sector lie, including a specific study on freedom of movement in the performing arts. We expect the results of these studies by the end of the year and will then take appropriate initiatives in the fields within our competence.

The matter of indirect taxation of multimedia products will be considered in the more general context of reviewing the structure of reduced VAT rates.

The European Commission's recent communication on the new comprehensive strategy on tax policy in the European Union, in fact, provides for particular attention to be paid to question of the rates applying to virtual products compared with traditional products and the use of reduced VAT rates in the pursuance of the various Community policies, including culture.

A report on the question of reduced rates is planned for this autumn. It will constitute the start of a debate within the economic interest groups and the Member States on the role of reduced taxation rates and any potential improvements and rationalisation. A comprehensive review of the rules applying to reduced rates is planned in the medium term, following an experimental period up to the end of 2002.

Finally, it is important for competition policy to ensure that dominant positions do not emerge and that large groups, which the European Union obviously needs if it wishes to maintain its presence on the world market, are constituted in conformity with the competition rules to ensure that all the players can contribute actively to maintaining a vital and creative environment. My colleague Mario Monti, in charge of competition policy, is very aware of this, and we are currently engaged in intensive dialogue on the future of the sector.


Europe, as you see, promotes the music sector in various ways, but can only act as far as its competence and budgets will allow.

Is Europe taking the right approach to the specific nature and potential future direction of the music world?

Can it contribute to increasing the sector's competitiveness still further? What are the specific needs of live performance, training, and for what kind of music? Pop, jazz, classical and contemporary music and opera cover very different practices and markets, and no doubt have equally varying needs, whether we are looking at creation, dissemination or training of professionals in the sector. I hope that today's meeting will allow us to ask the right questions and perhaps to go some way towards finding initial answers.

This conference also comes at an important moment in the more general consultation and deliberations currently under way on policy and on objectives and means, in respect of the future of Community cultural action, and the continuation beyond 2004 of our "Culture 2000" cultural cooperation programme. Thought needs to be given to how to approach a future bringing together some 30 countries (500 million inhabitants) which will make considerable demands on our imagination and planning capabilities. This coming November we are organising a forum on cultural cooperation in Europe, which will bring together hundreds of professionals in the cultural sector, and I am sure that today's observations and discussions will make a constructive contribution to the wider debate.

So I am sure you appreciate the value of this conference, and I hope it will be opened as widely as possible to everyone involved at all levels of the music sector, and to all ideas and projects which might contribute to building and consolidating a real "Europe of music".

Thank you for attention and I wish you a very successful conference.

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