The first ever BPI/Brit awards took place in 1977 as part of the Queen’s silver jubilee celebrations and 100 years since the first sound recording. The 24th of February 2016 will welcome the 36th edition of the UK’s biggest music awards ceremony. Leading up to this momentous occasion, we’d like to take a moment to look back at how the British music industry has evolved over the last 36 years as well as how copyright has played its part preventing 40 billion songs illegally downloaded every year.
You would be understandably annoyed if someone else simply copied your work and started selling it themselves and this is where copyright comes into play. This was a lot easier to police when music was consumed on cassettes and CDs as opposed to the current method of streaming or listening online. So if you do use samples of music by other creators yourself, make sure you get permission to use the work. Similarly, if you’re using ‘samples’ in your own music, make sure that these are licensed as free to use, or obtain permission from the creator first.
The 1970s was arguably one of the best eras in UK music boasting the likes of David Bowie’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust’, the introduction of cassettes and the world’s first music video for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which went on to win best British single at the first ever Brit awards. It was no surprise however, that The Beatles stormed the ceremony winning best British group and British album.
The 1980s was the time when cassettes overtook records as the most popular way to consume music, mobile phones were launched and ‘Back to the Future’ burst onto the big screen. A momentous moment in the music industry in this decade was the beginning of the world’s first music TV channel; MTV. The slogan “I want my MTV” could be seen anywhere and everywhere. As for the Brit awards in 1982, John Lennon was celebrated with a posthumous award for outstanding contribution to music, Cliff Richard was celebrated as Britain’s best male whilst Sting collected the best British band award on behalf of Sting.
The 90s saw the rise of the boy band and girl group as ‘Spice Girls’ and ‘Take That’ rocketed to fame. It was also the decade that welcomed personal CD players while we waved goodbye to cassettes for good. The BRITS caused quite the stir during the 90s with memorable moments such as Oasis vs Blur, Jarvis Cocker storming the stage during Michael Jackson’s set and Geri Halliwell’s infamous Union Jack dress (made out of two tea towels by Halliwell’s sister and later sold for £41,320). Later on in the 90s saw the introduction of soon to be illegal streaming website Napster.
As the 00s developed, so did Napster, which began seriously costing the music industry before being shut down in 2001. The decade also welcomed the arrival of music talent shows such as Pop Idol and Pop Stars but waved farewell to our iconic music show ‘Top of the Pops’. 2001 in particular was one to remember as Apple’s iPod took the world by storm altering the way we’d listen to music forever. The BRITS brought more controversy over the decade and saw a diverse range of winners from the Arctic Monkeys, and Busted, to Adele.
In more recent years, the BRITS have hosted superstars such as Taylor Swift who spoke out about the effects of copyright stating that “piracy, file sharing and illegal downloading have shrunk the number of paid album sales drastically”; but according to Geoff Taylor (Chief Executive of the BPI, the representative body for UK record labels, and of Brit Awards Ltd), 16 years since sites like Napster began to rule the music download scene, we have witnessed a 35% decline in UK illegal downloading displaying a new found understanding and respect for other people’s intellectual property.