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“A tremendous success story”: UK audiences surge 12%

The new Wish You Were Here report shows a booming UK concert biz – but steps must be taken to address the closure of small venues and impact of Brexit, UK Music warns

By Jon Chapple on 10 Jul 2017

Glastonbury Festival 2017, Charles Gervais, UK Music Wish You Were Here 2017

Music fans "poured into a huge range of festivals" last year, says UK Music's Michael Dugher

image © Charles Gervais/Glastonbury Festival

The number of people who attended a concert or music festival in the UK climbed 12% last year, reaching 30.9 million – almost half the country – and underscoring the “massive contribution” live music makes to Britain’s “culture and general wellbeing”, reveals UK Music’s latest Wish You Were Here study, released today.

Concertgoers generated £4 billion in combined direct and indirect spending in 2016 – an increase of 11% on the £3.7bn reported in 2015 – while the number of music tourists, both from the UK and abroad, rose even further: 20% compared to the previous year, to almost 12.5m. (The number of music tourists in the UK has increased 76% since 2011.)

The increase in concert tourism in 2016 had positive a knock-on effect on employment in the industry, sustaining 47,445 full-time jobs – a 22% increase on the 2015’s figure of 39,034. The growth in live music industry jobs tallies with recent government figures that showed employment in the creative industries has grown at three times faster than the UK average since 2011.

But it’s not all good news: UK Music’s figures illustrate the difficulties that grassroots venues continue to face, showing a 13% drop in direct spending at music venues with a capacity of under 1,500, and a 21% fall in the number of overseas visitors.

“Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story, and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing”

Karen Bradley, Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, comments: “UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report clearly shows music and the creative industries are not only central to our cultural DNA but also hugely important for creating jobs and growth across the country. It’s fantastic to see a record number of visitors to live events in the UK and the huge popularity of our artists overseas. Our musicians are cultural ambassadors for Britain and help us show the world that we are an optimistic and open country.”

“Music fans poured into a huge range of festivals [such as] Glastonbury, Latitude in Suffolk, The Great Escape in Brighton and Green Man in the Brecon Beacons,” adds newly elected UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher. “They also enjoyed seeing the best British new talent in smaller venues, which are a vital part of the live music industry. […]

“Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing, as well as our economy. It showcases our talent to the world and brings pleasure to millions every day.

“But this success is being put at risk. That’s why UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival, and will be pressing the government to make sure the impact of Brexit does not damage our export trade or make it harder for UK artists to tour abroad and for overseas acts to come here.”


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