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UK live biz grows 14%…but threat of “negative” Brexit looms

The UK live music industry is now worth a staggering £1bn, reveals the new Measuring Music 2017 report – although many respondents are worried Brexit will spoil the party

By Jon Chapple on 20 Sep 2017

Trnsmt 2017, Glasgow Green, UK, Measuring Music 2017

Fans at the debut Trnsmt festival in Glasgow, which drew crowds of more than 120,000

image © DF Concerts

The value of the British live music business topped £1 billion (US$1.35bn) for the first time in 2016, growing by 14% in a remarkable 12 months for the industry.

However, half of those working in the UK music industry say they fear a “negative impact” resulting from Britain’s 2019 exit from the European Union, reveals UK Music’s latest Measuring Music study, with chief executive Michael Dugher warning once again that government must act to end the “cloud of uncertainty” currently hanging over the business.

Measuring Music 2017, published this morning, shows the music industry as a whole – including the recorded sector and publishing – added £4.4bn to the UK economy last year. Live music rebounded after a slight contraction in 2015, while the boom in streaming contributed to 5% growth for recorded music, which was worth £640m.

A full breakdown of the gross value added (GVA) is pictured below:

Measuring Music 2017 GVA graphs

Exports, meanwhile, reached £2.5bn, of which £80m was generated by live music, £421m by recorded music and £964m by musicians, songwriters, composers and lyricists.

The number of music-industry jobs also grew in 2016, with the biggest increase (13%) in the live music sector.

Dugher has previously written for IQ and elsewhere on the need for a Brexit that protects the music industry, and this year’s report included a Brexit survey that asked 3,000 musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and artist managers how leaving the European Union would affect, negatively or otherwise, their ability to work in the music business.

Just 2% of respondents thought Brexit would have a positive impact on their chances of work, whereas 50% feared leaving the EU would have a negative impact. One in five believed Brexit would have no impact, while 28% responded that they don’t know.

“The outlook for the music business is better than it has been in years. But behind the positive top-line figures, there are some clear challenges”

“The headline figures in this year’s Measuring Music report are undoubtedly excellent news,” Dugher writes. “Virtually all sectors of our industry grew in 2016, particularly live music, which soared by 14% to make up £1 billion of the £4.4 billion the music business generated for the UK economy in 2016.

“The number of new jobs created in the UK rose at a faster pace than the rest of the employment market and our export figures shot up across the board. The outlook for the music business is better than it has been in years. But behind the positive top-line figures, there are some clear challenges that could threaten our efforts to cement the foundations for continued growth.”

These, he says, include cuts to music education and the ongoing lack of investment in grassroots venues, which are “where artists need to learn their craft in the first place”, as well as – yes – Brexit.

UK Music (an umbrella organisation whose members include the UK Live Music Group, PRS for Music, the MMF and the Musicians’ Union), Dugher pledges, will “continue to press the UK government to get the best possible deal to protect our 142,208 jobs, to grow our exports and to remove any barriers to trade, especially for touring artists.

“We are a vital part of any industrial strategy. The foundations of our industry must not be negotiated away at this critical time.”


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