Former UK Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson has been appointed as the new chair of UK Music.

Watson, the former Deputy Leader of Labour, said his top priority in his new role would be to secure “maximum support for the music industry to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and help return the sector to growth as soon as possible.”

Watson succeeds outgoing chair Andy Heath and will start his role with the umbrella body for the UK music industry in April.

Watson stood down from parliament at the General Election in December 2019 after almost two decades as an MP.

Watson said: “UK Music speaks with a powerful voice for the whole of the UK commercial music sector. And at the heart of the sector are the songwriters and musicians, many thousands of whom stand ready to serve in the national effort against the coronavirus.

“In ordinary times, the UK’s commercial music sector contributes £5.2 billion to the UK economy and supports 190,000 jobs. The cancellation of live music events has devastated the sector. Thousands of jobs are now in peril and threaten the long-term bottom line of the UK economy.

“Our urgent task is to work with our colleagues and partners in Government to support the national effort to defeat coronavirus, whilst protecting the jewel in the crown of British culture – commercial music.

“When we’re through this crisis, UK Music has an important part to play in Britain’s developing new role in the world. We believe we can be the Prime Minister’s calling card to every country on the planet.

“There will be much to say about this in the months ahead but first, let’s deal with this crisis. I will be seeking urgent talks with ministers and officials to ensure that we support the music-makers of Britain and the industry that always sustains us through the good times and the bad.”

Heath added: “I’m hugely proud of all we have achieved at UK Music. We have created a strong and united voice for the music industry that is listened to right across Westminster and the business world.

“Tom is one of the great political leaders of his generation and I know he will take UK Music from strength to strength and help continue to grow our fantastic industry.

“No-one should underestimate his passion for and knowledge of both the music that has been created in the UK and the industry that has served it.”

UK Music’s acting chief executive Tom Kiehl remains in his role during the recruitment process for new CEO.

Last week, UK Music urged the government to push for “immediate and urgent” help for self-employed people in the industry following the announcement that new assistance would not be available until June.