Europe and the Right to Music

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” — Plato

Plurality and unity may seem like opposite ends of a spectrum, but this odd little oxymoron is as old as life itself. Consider the human body, with its symphony of constituent parts acting and contributing to a whole. Each organic player rhythmically pulses in a brilliant polyphony, distinct yet united behind a common goal. The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato extended this phenomenon from the personal to the nation-state. As each social actor evolves and interacts, the body politic ages and innovates, reflecting the soul writ large.
In the modern day, the European Union embodies this political phenomenon. A united Europe pursues commonly held democratic ideals and institutions, through the EU parliament and the continent’s various transnational committees and NGOs. Music, Plato’s favorite art form, embodies this mixture of Western tradition and diversity. It is a universal language, which simultaneously transcends and bonds the winds of change to give the very universe its soul.
To this end, the European Music Council works to preserve this critically important sector. Understanding the need to convert esotericism into action, the European Music Council looked to establish an effective strategy for translating this philosophical discussion into hard public-policy.

European Agenda for Music

For the first time, every sector of the music industry came together in an endeavor to craft a policy piece. This continent-wide consultation yielded European Agenda for Music (EAM). Aspirational, yet practical, EAM brought a myriad of voices to sing as one and proclaim the value of the music industry to lawmakers. Strikingly, this advocacy tool delineated music as a right for each citizen.
Through this ambitious manifesto, EAM hopes to realize the democratization of music for all citizens. Much more than a simple policy document, EAM synthesizes knowledge across industries, regions and cultures.
EAM sought dialogue between policymakers and the entirety of the music sector’s stakeholders, ranging from schoolchildren to amateurs to working professionals. In pursuit of mutual understanding, EAM searched for the means to ensure the coexistence of all musical cultures, networking opportunities and initiatives to help sustain participation in music across cultural life.
EAM began by establishing seven working groups, comprised of over 70 experts, with specific focuses across the market: education, participation, media, creation, live, production and information/research. Each group met at least once in person and compiled evidence and reports. By analyzing such a wide breadth of music industry segments, EAM hoped boldly to proclaim the needs of this vitally important sector.

The Right to Make Music

EAM defines music as an art form, a product and a tool that unites. This was derived from a set of five essential musical rights developed by International Music Council, the international organization above European Music Council:

  1. To express themselves musically in all freedom
  2. To learn musical languages and skills
  3. To have access to musical involvement through participation, listening, creation and information
  4. To develop their artistry and communicate through all media with proper facilities at their disposal
  5. To obtain just recognition and fair remuneration for their work

These rights were developed in pursuit of musician and educator success. With this in mind, EAM turns their focus to actualization across the European market.

Achieving EAM’s Goals

EAM highlights three core areas of focus: education and access, diversity and culture, and economic development. Education serves as the mode of discovery for all ages. These new musicians, in turn, shape society. Finally, the increased number of musicians grows the economic engine of the sector and provides ample fuel for prolonged growth and educational funding. With this circular model, music across Europe brings tangible, sustainable rewards to society at large.

Accessible Music Education

EAM stresses their absolute commitment to music as a cultural force. As such, they believe music ought to be made a compulsory subject for all ages. To fund such efforts, EAM seeks long-term structural funding to outfit music students with instruments and train teachers. In addition to government-led efforts, EAM hopes to partner with various NGOs, local institutions, volunteers and established music professionals. EAM likewise stresses the need for short-term funding. This project-oriented approach would allow for mid-career mentorship for professionals and teachers and further develop the marketplace.

Continent-Wide Cultural Identity

Music serves a dual purpose, increasing both unity and individuality through team-oriented and solitary rehearsal. EAM remarks, “Music participation represents and promotes: diversity, tolerance, equality, freedom and solidarity.” Indeed, the educational benefits of music education go well beyond the subject.
The ability to effectively communicate is undoubtedly among the highest transferable skills. Music is a universal language. Through exposure to its many dialects and flavors, learners engage their entire brain via a fun and rewarding process. This growth in social competence reflects EAM’s desire for a shared cultural vision by way of music. To this end, they seek additional exchange opportunities across countries and cooperation between schools.

Growing the Musical Economy

This educational cooperation has equally significant economic effects. EAM stresses the music sector’s ability to create international trade, jobs and innovation. As it stands, the music products and services industry contributes significantly to the European economy, but EAM envisions a future where profits become more democratized.
EAM suggests the European Union safeguards creators and musicians. By recognizing the value of all contributors and crafting legislation that doesn’t prioritize corporate monopolies, EAM believes lifelong engagement with the music sector would grow in number. This bottom-up approach would enable small businesses and independent performers to thrive. In pursuit of this democratization, the EAM recommends redistribution of profits, an awareness campaign for authors’ and performers’ rights, and collective bargaining for all workers in the music sector.
Beyond investment, EAM aims to use technology to foster innovation, access new audiences and develop partnerships between professionals and non-professionals. Furthermore, they hope to increase interdisciplinarity between music and other sectors such as the social sector, health sector, academia, public libraries and other art forms.

The Next Steps

EAM is a tool by which the sector can bind together to sing loudly with one voice. Music possesses within it an inclusive, engaging and life-changing force for good.
While EAM doesn’t claim to have every answer, the immense power of music holds the potential to unite and heal Europe.
EAM boldly states a strong case for music’s value culturally, educationally and economically. Broad cooperation and input have already allowed EAM to go beyond a political declaration of intent. The EU Commission and EU Parliament have received the work positively. Translation initiatives are popping up throughout Europe and bringing the document to an increasingly broad audience.
EAM has connected the diverse voices of the European music sector and united the industry with a common pulse. If the EU classifies music as a right for every citizen, EAM may have composed Europe’s greatest symphony yet.

Across the Pond

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NAMM is an international trade organization, which affords the privilege of learning from other regions of the world. In addition to our members in the US, we urge our European members to make use of this document.
Let’s stand together and advocate for access to music across lifespan, socio-economic spectrum and national borders. With each of us urging public policy on behalf of the industry, music making may indeed become a global right.

Article by the National Association of Musical Merchants.

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