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British Recording Artists Vanish From Billboard Chart

June 01, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — The British music industry is singing the blues: U.S. fans have lost that lovin' feelin'.

Last month, for the first time since 1963, there were no British artists in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart--and now some in the industry here are calling for a music "embassy" to promote their artists in the United States.

Americans who embraced Beatlemania, progressive rock and the New Romantics have been left cold by Britpop and U.K. garage. A music industry report released this week says the British share of Billboard's annual top 100 albums chart has plummeted from a high of 32% in 1986--when bands such as Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and Simple Minds rode the British wave--to just 0.2% in 1999 and 1.7% in 2000.

Last year, the share was 8.8%--but more than one-third of the British sales were of a single album, the Beatles' "1" anthology.

Industry figures are so worried they have urged the government to set up a musical mission in the United States.

The report published this week, "Make or Break--Supporting U.K. Music in the U.S.A.," said a British music office in New York could provide record companies and managers with information, office facilities and industry contacts. The report was put out by the Assn. of Independent Music, an industry group, and the British Council, which promotes British culture overseas.

"Other countries are having far more impact in the U.S., which is slightly embarrassing and somewhat upsetting," said Guy Holmes, founder of Gut Records. "The U.S. market is very complex, and if we can put people in place over there with a good knowledge of it, we have a much better chance."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said it will consider the report's findings. But John Aizlewood, a London-based music writer and broadcaster, says the idea of a New York-based British music office smacks of desperation.

"It's ludicrous. You can't force people to listen to music, and you can't run the music industry on a quota system."

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