Value of UK music industry hits all time high as over £5 billion injected into UK economy

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A new industry report has revealed the gigantic value of music to the UK economy, GetintothisWill Whitby dived into the figures to see where the money was being made. 

Massive sell-out tours from the likes of Ed Sheeran combined with global chart successes from acts like Dua Lipa has meant that Britain’s music industry contributed a record £5.2 billion to the UK economy in 2018. 

The data released in the Music By Numbers report by music industry umbrella organisation UK Music showed a selection of figures which seem incredibly promising for the music industry and economy of the UK. 

The Live Music sector grew by 10% generating over £1.1 billion in 2018 which was up from £991 million in 2017. This was caused simply by there being more and more gigs than ever before across the country with music fans injecting £100,000s into the live music sector every night. 

The sign of a healthy music economy can be denoted by its successful live music ecology as although venues can be struggling, the sheer number of gigs happening every night across the country can not be quashed. 

30 million punters attended live music events in the UK in 2018 which again was an increase (of 2%) from 2017.

The ever-expanding UK festival circuit contributed massively to these numbers with around 5 million music fans getting out the wellies and headed to a festival in those 12 months. 

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Despite Glastonbury not taking place in 2018, new larger festivals like Transmit and Rize and smaller events like Neighbourhood Weekender and Bluedot all contributed to the 23% rise in audience numbers.

It seems that the allure of fields, mud, good times and live music is alive and well in the British Isles. 

The UK Festival summer attracted a record number of music tourists too as last year people flocked from across the globe to come to a show or festival in the UK.

Overseas visitor attendance figures grew by over 10% as 888,000 people came to the UK in 2018 specifically for a festival or a gig. 

Anne Marie

The abundance in new festivals like Transmit and Glasgow Summer Sessions worked successfully in Scotland and they had the largest jump in music tourism as 38% more people went to Scotland for music in 2018 compared to 2017.

Music tourism to the UK collectively contributed a staggering £4.5 billion to the UK economy as over 11.2 million holiday-makers descended on the UK’s cities in search of music.

This meant that over 45,530 people now work in jobs that are sustained by music tourism within the UK, yet again a growth on the year before. 

2.8 million people visited London from overseas just for music as the capitals plethora of live music offering and heritage drew in record crowds from abroad. 

On the reverse, music exported overseas from the UK collected £2.7 billion as successful British arts like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran continued their global dominance selling out tours and shifting albums worldwide.

Full-time employment within the UK music industry hit an all-time high as now 190,930 people are registered to be working with music every day.

Despite a feeling of jobs within live music and venues being few and far between, employment in the live music sector actually rose by 7% as over 30,500 now work within live music in the UK. 

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The positive news of the UK music industry growing is a global trend as we reported in the 2018’s IFPI report that the global music industry is now worth a staggering £14.6 billion as live audiences grow alongside the revenue generated from streaming. 

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher commented saying: “Our report reveals firm evidence that the British music industry is in great shape and continuing to lead the world. The figures are hugely encouraging and show that, as well as enriching the lives of millions of people, music makes an incredible contribution to the UK’s economy.

Dugher added that there is still a great need and desire to protect UK Music as: “We face many challenges to ensure we keep our music industry vibrant, diverse and punching above its weight.

We need to do more to protect grassroots venues by helping them combat soaring business rates. We need to nurture the talent pipeline, including by reversing the decline of music in education, so that children from every background have access to music.

Writers Comment:

The outcome of the report does paint a picture of the music industry in the UK thriving and being better than ever before. In terms of money generated that is true, there is more money in UK Music now than at any point in history.

But as any aspiring musician or creative will tell you, at a grassroots level the struggle to be a musician full time is all too real. Although the mega-stars of music all sleep on a big bed of money at night, the wealth disparity at the other end of the spectrum makes it incredibly tough to cut it as a musician full time. 

139,352 people were employed last year as music creators, including musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and engineers as they earned an average income of £23,059 in 2018, which is below the national average of £29,832, according to the Office for National Statistics

If the UK Music Industry wants to truly flourish to its capabilities it needs to be fairer and musicians and creators need to actually manage to make some money for their sakes. 

As Spotify and streaming services dish out minuscule %s of a penny per play for an artists pride and joy, the industry as a whole needs to balance out and continue to strive for wealth equality across the UK Music industry. – Will Whitby

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