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BBC 'damaging music industry'


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A stinging attack on the music industry was launched today, with the BBC accused of contributing to the mass manufacture of boy and girl bands.


The report, commissioned by think-tank the Economic Research Council, blames record companies for failing to break UK acts in the highly-prized US market.


It says many of the music industry's problems over recent years, which have seen sliding sales, have been "entirely self inflicted".


Creative Destruction in the Music Industry, the Way Ahead, says the BBC unfairly dominates the airwaves and decides what gets broadcast.


It says the music industry is fighting a losing battle with the internet and regards it as a threat rather than a way to engage with customers.


Record companies lack understanding and appreciation of the internet, with too many UK acts not even having their own websites, according to the report.


The publication comes as music sales in the UK fell from £1.364 billion in 2001 to £1.176 billion in 2005.


Report author Andrew Ian Dodge, who is from the US, calls on British labels to step up their game in helping their acts succeed abroad.


He says: "For every group that conquers the US like Coldplay, the Spice Girls and Iron Maiden, there are many acts like Robbie Williams, Oasis and Busted which have ...come back with their tails between their legs.


"It's partly because of the bands themselves and their trust in their handlers. But in many cases, it is the British music companies themselves which seem to have no knowledge of the American market."


The report cites the example of the Arctic Monkeys, saying they were initially marketed in the US by stressing the fact that they launched themselves on the internet first.


But, it says, this is nothing new in the US, as "many current American acts, especially in the pop/rock indie field, have built up a following over the internet first."


The report says that "the BBC dominates what does and does not get played in the UK" and calls for it to end its "monopoly of the airwaves".


It says that "Radio 1 and other BBC stations still believe, despite all the years of co-existence with commercial radio, that they are the arbiters of what the great British public should and should not listen to each day."


It says: "This patronising attitude has repercussions throughout the music business and severely damages the prospects for many signed British acts who because of this face the prospect of never being played on radio.


"At the same time, the BBC is guilty of helping the manufactured boy-band/girl-band phenomena retain its potency.


"It did not help that the BBC has launched its own version of music reality shows. A seemingly endless supply of bland inoffensive or unoriginal music is played by the BBC and all its outlets.


"Much of this fare is similar to the music in the lift. The BBC steadfastly ignores the vibrant live music scene in the UK."


The report also criticises record companies for suing their own customers for illegal downloading and for expecting their lesser acts to subsidise the "so called top of the roster".


"British record companies need to stop complaining about the internet and broadband so they can develop their own ways to use it for its full potential", it says.


"Their trade bodies need to end their paranoia about all the money 'lost' by illegal downloading as well."



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