UK Music has appointed former Shadow Culture Secretary and Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson as its new chair.
Watson was appointed by the Board of UK Music following an extensive recruitment process and has said that his top priority would be fighting to secure maximum support for the music industry to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former MP will succeed Andy Health MBE who founded UK Music back in 2008.
Tom Watson said: ‘UK Music speaks with a powerful voice for the whole of the UK commercial music sector. And at the heart of the sector are the songwriters and musicians, many thousands of whom stand ready to serve in the national effort against the coronavirus.
‘In ordinary times, the UK’s commercial music sector contributes £5.2 billion to the UK economy and supports 190,000 jobs. The cancellation of live music events has devastated the sector. Thousands of jobs are now in peril and threaten the long-term bottom line of the UK economy.
‘Our urgent task is to work with our colleagues and partners in Government to support the national effort to defeat coronavirus, whilst protecting the jewel in the crown of British culture - commercial music.
‘When we’re through this crisis, UK Music has an important part to play in Britain’s developing new role in the world. We believe we can be the Prime Minister's calling card to every country on the planet.
‘There will be much to say about this in the months ahead but first, let’s deal with this crisis. I will be seeking urgent talks with ministers and officials to ensure that we support the music-makers of Britain and the industry that always sustains us through the good times and the bad.’
Welcoming the appointment, Andy Heath said: ‘I’m delighted Tom Watson is the new chair of UK Music. I’m sure he will continue to be a fantastic advocate for the music industry and fight for its future at what is an immensely difficult time.
‘I’m hugely proud of all we have achieved at UK Music. We have created a strong and united voice for the music industry that is listened to right across Westminster and the business world.
‘Tom is one of the great political leaders of his generation and I know he will take UK Music from strength to strength and help continue to grow our fantastic industry.
‘No-one should underestimate his passion for and knowledge of both the music that has been created in the UK and the industry that has served it.’
Andrea C. Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, said: 'Congratulations to Tom on his appointment as UK Music Chair. At this critical time, we need someone who can champion our industry at all levels of government.
We look forward to working with him to help and support those at the heart of the business, the songwriters, composers and small publishers, who have been and could be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘We need strong leadership and to speak with one voice during the coming months and I know Tom will have an immediate and positive impact at UK Music‘