The BPI offer comment on Slaves’ status as independent artists

The BPI’s communications director clarified their position following an incendiary Facebook post from London’s Fat White Family

This Monday (9 January) we reported on the distribution of the latest round of MEGS funding, a grant released by the British Phongraphic Industry. In the news we noted that part of the funding had been given to Kent-based duo Slaves, along with a handful of other well-established bands.

In the hours following the post the news was picked up and shared by London indie-rockers Fat White Family. The band posted the story on their Facebook page along with a caption that asked “Why does a band that has been on a major label (virgin/EMI) for three years need a grant explicitly designed to support artists trying to break through on independent labels?” They also claimed: “Anyone remotely involved in music should be up in arms about this.” Now the BPI have offered their own thoughts on the controversy in order to clarify Slaves’ status as ‘independent’.

“The application for Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS) funding to support Slaves’ US tour and promotional activities States-side was made by their management company, Seven 7 Artist Management – who, as a small music company, are fully eligible to apply,” says the BPI’s communication director Gennaro Castaldo. “The band’s label had absolutely nothing to do with the application.”

Castaldo then goes on to clarify that the term ‘independent’ is used in a generic sense in relation to the funding, “In making the announcement I used the term ‘independent’ generically – in part to describe the ‘indie’ nature of the acts who stand to benefit, but also because the vast majority of the music companies and labels that apply and benefit are from the independent community.” He told Crack. “Anyone taking a look at the 21 recipients of this round of funding would clearly see that, and, while, perhaps, I should have been a little more precise in my wording, it seems a pity that we’re not focusing on the much bigger picture here – that British music is being promoted overseas.”

Finally he offered an olive branch to Fat White Family, and pointed out that the band themselves have indirectly benefited from BPI funding in the past. “We’d also respectfully point out that Fat White Family have never applied for MEGS funding themselves – they and their representatives are welcome to if they are planning overseas activity that meets the criteria.” He said, before adding. “They have, however, received government support to play various showcase gigs around the world, and recently also benefitted from some indirect BPI support to put on a showcase for them at last year’s Canadian Music Week.”