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Sharkey calls for musical backing from ministers

UK Music wants cabinet committee to coordinate creative industries, ministries and investors

Glastonbury Festival 2009

Damon Albarn at Glastonbury. The music industry contributes enormously to the UK economy. Photograph: Rex Features

Britain has the chance to leapfrog America as the world's biggest music producer over the next decade, but it needs government help to realise this ambition, according to UK Music, the umbrella group which represents UK labels, artists and managers.

It is calling for the government to form a "creative industries cabinet committee" to bring the numerous departments that deal with Britain's creative industries together with entrepreneurs and executives, and to report directly to the prime minister.

In Liberating Creativity, UK Music's manifesto to be published today, the organisation calls for easier access to finance, the ratification of a planned EU extension to copyright from 50 to 70 years, and looser venue licensing so pubs and small clubs can give the next generation of artists a chance to perform. UK Music argues that the success of venues such as the O2 and Glastonbury – which contributes an estimated £35m to the local economy each year – can only be sustained with a thriving grassroots live music scene.

Feargal Sharkey, the former Undertones frontman and now UK Music chief executive, said the music industry – and other parts of the creative industries – are vital to the country's economic recovery and need to be taken seriously by government.

"It may sound a bit jingoistic of me – and frankly I don't care if it does – but the music thing is something we are really bloody good at," he said. "We are phenomenally good at it and we think we can go out there and genuinely dominate the world. We think we can give the Americans a good run for their money if not take them out, But we are going to need government's help to do that."

"I think people still look at music and think it is not a proper grown-up profession and that has got to change because ironically what some people in the world of finance might dismiss as nothing more than a couple of kids making noise in the back of a pub on a Friday night, when they grow up to be big boys and girls, the contribution and the impact that they will have on the rest of society is just – if not more – significant as some bloke with a double first from Cambridge working for a merchant bank in the City of London."

UK Music was formed in 2008 in response to the government's call for clarity on the industry's views on issues such an unlawful file-sharing. The result of some of its lobbying is making its way through parliament as the digital economy bill. Last week it was announced that the bill – which includes powers to sever the broadband connections of persistent unlawful file-sharers – would receive a perfunctory second reading in the House of Commons on April 6 before ending up in the pre-election "wash-up". There were protests outside parliament about the lack of debate.