Performing Rights Society Centenary Celebration

Thank you Robert for the kind introduction.

Now…Your members include unbelievably cool people like Soul2Soul, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards.  So it leaves me wondering: why on earth have you asked not one but two politicians to speak tonight!

How can we follow these guys?  I haven’t got any rock and roll stories to tell, I can’t recount any spaced out escapades….and, if I could, I wouldn’t be telling any of you tonight! ….You can bet there will be a Daily Mail journalist lurking somewhere in our midst.

But, seriously, thank you inviting me to speak – to be a part of your 100 year anniversary celebration tonight.

From 199 members in 1914 to more than 100,000 now.

From garnering £1,500 of income for members in your first year to more than £600m just last year,  You go from strength to strength.

So this is special night for a special organisation.

And I am so pleased to be able to celebrate with you for three reasons.

First, you know, PRS are technically amongst my constituents.  I am proud to have PRS headquartered in my constituency.  I work hard for all my constituents, particularly when they help boost my local economy.

Second, as Shadow Business Secretary, I have been clear that, in looking to grow our economy in the future, we have to pick sectors which will do this.

We might occasionally pick up a few too many null points at Eurovision, but our music industry contributes £3.8 billion to the UK economy – only the US music industry is bigger.  You are renowned around the world.

Your sector – music – with its prolific and inspirational songwriters, is a gold medal winner for UK industry.

In March I launched Labour’s Agenda 2030, which is our plan for building a better balanced, sustainable economy – A key plank of that plan is to back our strongest sectors and those what will inspire future success.  So I pledge to you this evening, if we are elected, we will back you.

Of course, in this age, your creative success spills over into the rest of the economy and creates genuine wealth for our country, both in financial terms and in cultural terms for other sectors too.

Finally, I am here because I love my music.  Though as I child as a cathedral chorister, I was part of the choir that sang the theme tune to the Mr Bean TV series, I don’t pretend to have any great musical talent….

But it is so important to me.  Music is part of who I am; it is part of who we are and it brings us together.

The first ever gig I ever went to was at the Brixton Academy to see Soul II Soul. I still remember “Back to Life” as if it was yesterday. It was this fusion of Soul, House, Garage, classical music and other genres – it represented the emergence of a really distinct British Soul sound. In the audience were people of all backgrounds, ages and colours.

What Soul II Soul’s music did was bring together people of all creeds, colours, backgrounds.  The group’s moto is: “a happy face, a thumping bass for a loving race”.

At a time when some people in our country are trying to set different groups in society against each other, the role music has in bringing us together has never been so important.

So PRS’ work in protecting your interests, ensuring those creating music get paid, is vitally important.

Every week I tweet a couple of tracks of the weekend. Sometimes the artists reply and tweet me back. A couple of weeks ago it was “We are family” by Sister Sledge – they tweeted me back saying they were glad to be giving me so much joy after so many years, which was pretty cool.

But a couple of years back I tweeted a De La Soul track and got a reply from De La Soul too. As well as saying thanks, they told me I’d got the wrong link and twitter handle.  I got told off by some of my heroes! I changed those links pretty damn quick!  I’ve since drunk the PRS Kool Aid and promise it is a not mistake I will make again.

So congratulations on 100 years, long may your work continue.  We’re right behind what you’re doing.  Have a great evening.

Thank you.