26 June 2018

BPI champions the UK’s recorded music industry and in 2018 they won the Creative & Cultural Skills Music Skills Award. We spoke to Chris Tams, Director of Membership and International, about their work and the difference they are making to the sector.

“BPI’s work is probably more important now than ever
“BPI’s work is probably more important now than ever"

BPI is a membership organisation representing over 400 independent labels and the UK’s three major record labels. Their work is varied, but underpinning it all is the aim to offer their membership the resources and support they need to thrive.  

BPI safeguards the rights of members. Through trade missions and the Music Exports Growth Scheme they promote British music overseas. They provide insight, training and networking through free masterclasses, the Innovation Hub, insight sessions, and reports.

The BPI administers the Certified Awards, co-owns the Official Charts, organises The BRIT Awards and is also home to the Mercury Prize

Thinking ahead 

Chris says, “BPI’s work is probably more important now than ever. The music industry has been at the forefront of the digital technology boom, so it’s important that our members are one step ahead.

“For the past six years we’ve worked extremely hard to determine the skills gap that our members face and organise free training to help.

The music industry has been at the forefront of the digital technology boom, so it’s important that our members are one step ahead.

“We are looking at new markets for our members to export into and have organised trade missions to developing markets such as China, India and South Korea, as well as the more established markets in Europe and North America. These missions are a unique and vital market introduction, which really help our members do some fantastic business.

“We organise a series of events around music tech called the BPI Innovation Hub which has helped many labels meet and do business with innovative tech companies.

“More importantly we are here as a knowledge resource for our members – we are here to help them all with whatever they need!”

Developing young talent

As well as supporting companies and workers that are already well established in their field, BPI have renewed their commitment to supporting new talent through The BRITs Apprentice Scheme.

The scheme funds 10 apprenticeships across the UK in independent record labels and offers training for the successful applicants. This will allow them to learn about the recorded music industry, receive practical ‘hands-on’ experience, develop relevant skills and make key contacts.

In the past BPI have also worked with Global and UK Youth to help create and administer The Big Music Project. This programme, for 14 to 25 year olds, has created paid internship and work placements in the music industry and worked with youth clubs throughout the UK.

Current projects

Chris says, “We’ve been really busy looking at new networking events to help our members meet as many different and interesting music companies as possible. We launched a new initiate in 2018 – Wisdom Wednesday – where our members can learn  from their peers in a relaxed and informal setting. We’ve expanded our Insight sessions to cover topics such as Blockchain, AI, VR and Big Data and Analytics – areas that our members are very keen to understand.

“We are also looking at new countries to hold trade missions to. Our members are starting to look seriously at South America and Africa as places that they feel will be good growth markets for them.

“We are also constantly re-evaluating our training to make sure we are as up to date as possible with the skills our members need.”

Music Skills Award 2018

BPI were awarded the Music Skills Award 2018 for their outstanding contribution to supporting talent and skills for the industry.

We asked Chris how it felt to receive the award.

It was a real surprise as we were up against some really strong competition.

“It was a real surprise as we were up against some really strong competition – both Pamela and Whiskas are doing amazing work which we really admire.*

“It was also a really nice thing that someone has looked at what we (and by that I mean the whole BPI team – just not myself) have been doing over the years and thought it worthy of praise.”

* Pamela McCormick of Urban Development and Sam Nicholls of Leeds Becketts University were nominated alongside BPI.

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