Music body tries to deny industry rift

THE BODY representing the UK music business yesterday attempted to quash talk of an industry split over the government&rsquo;s plans to disconnect people caught illegally downloading music.<br /><br />The controversial issue has polarised the music industry, with some artists supporting business secretary Lord Mandelson&rsquo;s proposals to disconnect persistent illegal filesharers, but others attacking them.<br /><br />But UK Music &ndash; which aims to &ldquo;represent the collective interest of the UK&rsquo;s commercial music industry&rdquo; &ndash; yesterday said that &ldquo;government intervention is extremely welcome&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;UK Music would like to clarify that all our members remain committed to supporting proposals that will benefit the future growth and sustainability of our commercial music industry,&rdquo; the body said, ahead of the 29 September deadline for the consultation period on the proposals.<br /><br />&ldquo;We believe that Government intervention is extremely welcome and that, subject to assessment, Ofcom should be granted appropriate and proportionate powers as directed by the Secretary of State&rdquo;.<br /><br />UK Music chief executive Feargal Sharkey said that the industry was settled on a &ldquo;common response&rdquo; to be submitted to the consultation, but neither he nor the statement confirmed what this response would be.<br /><br />The statement was issued in response to the rift that has been emerging over the past few weeks. The influential Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) &ndash; which includes Annie Lennox and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree &ndash; recently attacked Mandelson&rsquo;s plans, calling them &ldquo;grossly disproportionate&rdquo;.<br /><br />But major record labels, which have seen huge declines in profit due to illegal filesharing, have welcomed the prospect of intervention and alternatives to unlawful filesharing.<br /><br />Singer Lilly Allen attacked the FAC position earlier this week in her blog, writing that file-sharing is &ldquo;a disaster as it&rsquo;s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge&rdquo; and is having a &ldquo;dangerous effect on British music&rdquo;.