UK music calls for truce with technology

The British music industry has called for a truce with the technology firms with whom it has till now fought a bitter battle over rights, royalties and file sharing.

Feargal Sharkey, CEO of lobby group UK Music, told a conference in London this week that it was time for the music and technology industries to set aside their differences and strive instead toward a common goal: nothing less than the total global domination of British music.

Sharkey, a campaigner against people copying music on the internet and the technology they use, said it had become apparent that technology and creativity were inseparable.

"It's now time for ISPs and tech companies to sit down together and possibly for the first time have a broad adult conversation. Our future is now totally dependent, totally entwined, totally symbiotic," he told an audience of industry, government and media at the Westminster Forum this morning.

Sharkey was on rousing form. The former pop star called dramatically for the mobilization of British music and technology producers: "By 2020. We. Want. To rival. The United States. As the largest. Source of repertoire. And artistry. In. The. World."

"In short," he said, "We want to be number one."

The music industry scored a controversial success in April when the last government passed the Digital Economy Act, which would sanction the removal of people's internet connections if they were suspected of sharing copyrighted music online.

This had helped restore the equilibrium between creativity and technology that had, said Sharkey, been out of kilter. It was but a single "stepping stone" toward the music industry's goal of having people "remunerated for their talent time, effort and ability".

Nevertheless, he said, there should be a "reality check". Internet applications providers should think not about how many users they could get, but how sustainable were their business models.

"The internet has given everybody the opportunity to be a busker," he said. But with a nod to Napster, MySpace, We7, the Ipod, broadband, declared: "You can't democratize genius".

He appealed for "the ultimate solution", which was a music market place.

"It's now imperative that we all look forward and move towards what I hope will be a very bright and successful future, where the British music industry can in 10 years time become not only number one, but in doing so take British technology companies with us. My name's Feargal Sharkey. May God be with you."