Discipline Global Mobile

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Discipline Global Mobile's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Discipline Global Mobile is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


The DGM logo is designed
by Steve Ball, who owns the
copyright in his work
Co-founder, David
Founded in 1992, Discipline Global Mobile Ltd is a music
management company and record label based in Pershore,
Worcestershire. It is a small, mobile, independent music
company that aspires to intelligence. The raison d’être of DGM is
to connect music, musician and audience in a way that supports
the power of music, the integrity of the musician and the needs
of the audience. Co-founder David Singleton explains more.
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, Discipline Global Mobile’s business aims have been
hailed as exemplary. We were founded in 1992 to be a model of ethical business
in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled
by greed. The music business, which is something of an oxymoron, is unusual in
that the income ultimately due to the creators – the artists – is first filtered through
numerous other parties, such as record and publishing companies, mechanical
and performing rights societies, and artist management. Each of these entities has
a perverse financial incentive to be inefficient, unaccountable and opaque, thus
maximising the share of income they retain. A historic example, a loophole mostly
closed, would be companies sublicensing music to their own subsidiaries, thus
earning multiple percentages or double dipping.
Retaining integrity
Our view is that business practices, although widespread and common practice,
which seek to deprive the creative element of its authority, and artists of the
benefit of their work, are shortsighted and immoral. This very week, at a time when
most industries are lowering costs through computerised efficiencies, the British
Performing Right Society increased its collection fees – doubling them in some cases.
»Co-founder: David Singleton
»Founded in 1992
»Based in Pershore
»Services: Music management
and record label
»No. of employees: 5
»Ethically-driven, seeking to
improve industry standards
Discipline Global
»Photo credits:
»Steve Ball, Claudia
Hahn, Tony Levin
Highlighting best practice
Meanwhile, we learn that Universal
Music Group, the largest record
company in the world, refuses to
honour a contractual right to audit
sales without the signing of an
additional non-disclosure agreement.
Our direct experience of mechanical
rights collection societies worldwide
is so poor that in the US, faced with
overwhelming proof of incompetence,
the publishers were forced to give us
permission to self-collect and self-
distribute. Matters are little better in
the UK. The Mechanical Copyright
Protection Society recently took
over two years to process fees on a
reissued album registered since 1973.
An unhealthy picture of an entitled
industry turned in on itself.
The music industry has long been
based on control. A traditional
artist contract has been likened to
a mortgage deal where, once the
mortgage is repaid, the bank still owns
the house. An artist repays the advance
they receive to make an album, but the
recording is still owned in perpetuity
by the record label. Every DGM
album carries the following copyright
statement: “The phonographic
copyright in these performances is
operated by Discipline Global Mobile
on behalf of the artists, with whom it
resides, contrary to common practice
in the record industry. Discipline
accepts no reason for artists to assign
the copyright interests in their work to
either record company or management
by virtue of a common practice which
was always questionable, often
improper, and is now indefensible.”
Improving our sector
This position is not just morally right.
The traditional “own and control”
model is poor business. Universal
Music Group, which owns and controls
about a third of all the recorded music
ever made, has a market valuation
little higher than Spotify, nothing
more than the latest delivery portal.
Our collaborative and non-contractual
model has allowed us to be market
leaders as new opportunities arise:
early pioneers of music DVDs, online
music and downloads, collectors’
official bootlegs of live shows, high
resolution and surround sound
Robert Fripp, co-founder
of DGM Ltd and guitarist
with King Crimson
A traditional
artist contract
has been
likened to a
mortgage deal
where, once
the mortgage
is repaid, the
bank still owns
the house
reissues, and sumptuous boxed set
compendia of every album. Since the
return from Virgin EMI of the King
Crimson catalogue that we manage,
the average artist royalties on that
catalogue have risen fourfold.
Much has been achieved despite
legislation that little understands
the needs of small business or rights
holders. The principle of safe harbour
in the Digital Millenium Copyright
Act has offloaded all the costs of
policing sites onto the rights holders,
while handing all the profits to the
online behemoths. It would be so
simple for a copyright or trademark
owner to give a list of official products
to eBay or YouTube, and for them
to reject all others. Instead we
must constantly scour the internet,
spending thousands of dollars every
month removing infringing items,
which often immediately reappear
elsewhere. The right of removal
enshrined in the DMCA is meaningless
if removal is followed immediately
The ever-changing VAT requirements
are similar. For those in the music
business, there are now three different
rules. For digital music downloads,
VAT must be charged and paid in
the country of the purchaser. A
bureaucratic headache, but one
lessened by the creation of a single
portal to enable the payment of often
absurdly small amounts of VAT to all
28 countries of the EU. For tickets
or sales of merchandise at concerts,
different rules apply. Tax must be paid
not in the country of the purchaser but
the country of the event.
More maddeningly, there is no
minimum threshold. A British market
trader must sell £85,000 worth of
goods before being required to register
for British VAT. A foreign market
trader or a touring musician here for
just one day and selling just £1 worth
of goods must instantly register for
British VAT – an unfeasible demand
in terms of time and money, out of
all proportion with the act. And, on
a European tour, the same applies in
every one of the 27 other EU countries:
a law with which, for a small company,
it is almost impossible to comply in
practice. As a company founded on
ethical practice, it is profoundly wrong
that poorly drafted legislation should
force us into grey areas or practical
accommodations. Brexit sadly will only
make this worse: outside the system,
and thus unable to reform it, but still
having to comply with all its provisions.
In any creative industry, the future
is to a degree necessarily uncertain.
DGM is committed to operating in
the marketplace while being free
of the values of the marketplace. In
practice, this means honouring the
creative process and the needs of the
music, rather than demanding that the
music owes us a living. Ironically, but
unsurprisingly, we have found that if
your expectations are reasonable and
fair, over the long term, doing right
by the music also tends to do right by
Our collaborative
and non-
model has
allowed us to be
market leaders
as new
In The Court of the
Crimson King
by King


This article was sponsored by Discipline Global Mobile. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster