LONDON – Managing Director of BPI Geoff Taylor says he will step down next year after more than 15 years at the helm of the UK label trade association.
Taylor says he intends to move into a “more direct commercial role” after leaving the London-based organization, although he gave no details on what his next position will be.
BPI appointed Taylor as chief executive in 2007. The label trade organization represents the UK branches of all three major labels, as well as UK independents.
Taylor’s time at the helm of BPI coincided with a period of change in the recording industry, fueled by the transition from physical CDs to digital downloads and then streaming as the dominant method of music consumption.
During this time, BPI waged a long and successful campaign against online music piracy, obtaining bans on numerous illegal peer-to-peer and stream-ripping sites. The organization has also negotiated major reforms to global policies for Google, YouTube, Facebook and online advertising networks to better protect music rights by downgrading illegal websites in search engines and cutting off their funding.
The UK now has the third lowest rate of music piracy in the world, says BPI, which has submitted more than a billion infringing music links to search engines for delisting on behalf of UK artists and labels. In 2020, the organization claimed to be the world’s second-highest removal of illegal content from Google, behind anti-piracy firm Rivendell.
As well as fighting piracy, Taylor’s lobbying skills garnered industry and government support for extending copyrights on recorded music from 50 years to 70 years – a major victory for artists, record labels and performers that was brought into UK law in 2013 .
Last year, Taylor gave insight into the economics of music streaming in an investigation by the Committee on Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS). Taylor appeared before committee members and lobbied on behalf of UK artists and record labels, demonstrating against “distortions” in the digital market caused by UGC services like YouTube, using Safe Harbor safeguards to allow them to pay lower license fees than subscription services like Spotify and Deezer.
As Chief Executive of BPI, Taylor also serves as CEO of the BRIT Awards, the UK’s largest annual music awards ceremony, and the Mercury Prize, its independently hosted sister event, which awards a jury-picked top 12 albums of the year to British and Irish artists.
Over the past decade, Taylor has steered the modernization of the BRIT Awards, significantly expanding its international profile and global reach through partnerships with digital services YouTube, Roblox and TikTok.
Although UK television viewership for this year’s BRIT Awards fell to 2.7 million from 2.9 million last year, there were more than 16 million views of BRIT-related videos on TikTok on the day of the show. Adele’s performance of “I Drink Wine” has since been viewed more than 18 million times on YouTube. (There were more than 30 million total YouTube views from performances on this year’s show.)
Prior to heading BPI, Taylor was General Counsel and Executive Vice President at the International Recording Industry Association (IFPI). Earlier in his career, he also served as General Counsel at BPI and as Legal Counsel at IFPI.
Taylor says he plans to stay on the job through early 2023 — the year of BPI’s 50th anniversary — to help BPI’s newly appointed chairman Yolanda Brown find a suitable successor.
In making the announcement, Taylor said it has been “a great privilege to lead the BPI during such a period of transformation for British music” but after much thought he has decided “15 years is enough for any reasonably healthy person, and that’s for now it is time to apply my experience more directly in a commercial environment.”
The British heads of all three major labels paid tribute.
Tony HarlowWarner Music UK CEO, said Taylor’s “enlightening and forward-thinking leadership has benefited the industry as it has overcome tremendous challenges over the past 15 years” and helped “secure a sustainable and growing music industry in our country”.
Jason IllyChairman and CEO of Sony Music UK, said the outgoing CEO had worked tirelessly “leading the BPI with a firm grip on the big issues” and that the whole industry had benefited from his work fighting piracy, showcasing UK talent and campaigning for Export financing by the British benefits government.
David JosephUniversal Music UK Chairman and CEO said Taylor had made “a significant contribution to our industry” and thanked him for his “calm leadership, insight and dedicated work in support of labels across the country”.