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UK live music at “record high” £1.1bn value

The value of Britain's live music industry grew a remarkable 10% in 2018, reveals UK Music's first Music by Numbers report, which is published today

By Jon Chapple on 20 Nov 2019

Dave is namechecked by culture secretary Nicky Morgan in Music by Numbers 2019

image © Joe Magowan

The live music sector contributed £1.1 billion (US$1.42bn/€1.28bn) to the British economy in 2018 – a 10% year-on-year increase – according to UK Music’s inaugural Music by Numbers report.

Music by Numbers 2019 – which builds on and replaces the umbrella body’s forerunner Measuring Music and Wish You Were Here reports – reveals the UK music industry continued to grow across every sector last year, with live once again leading the charge.

UK Music, which includes the UK Live Music Group, measures the health of Britain’s music business each year by collating data on its contribution in goods and services – known as gross value added (GVA) – to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP), including export revenue.

The findings of this year’s report include:

  • The UK music industry contributed £5.2bn to the British economy in 2018
  • The live music sector made a contribution of £1.1 bn – up 10% on 2017’s £991 million
  • Employment in the industry hit an all-time high of 190,935in 2018
  • The total export revenue of the music industry was £2.7bn in 2018.
  • Music tourism alone contributed £4.5bn spend to the UK economy – up 12%, from £4bn, on 2017
  • Overseas visitors to UK shows and festivals surged 10%, from 810,000 in 2017 to 888,000 in 2018

GVA from recorded music also rose, by 5% to £535m – remaining at around half the contribution of the live sector – while total record label revenues grew for the third consecutive year (3% in 2018).

“The figures in this report are testament to the outstanding creativity of our world-leading artists”

Employment in live, meanwhile, increased 7% to 30,529.

“Our report reveals firm evidence that the British music industry is in great shape and continuing to lead the world,” comments UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. “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.

“Live music is now at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both the UK and abroad to our arenas and smaller venues alike.

“Music exports are another amazing success story, with the best of British creative talent being showcased across the globe. However, this is not a time for complacency. We face many challenges to ensure we keep our music industry vibrant, diverse and punching above its weight. 

“Live music is now at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both the UK and abroad”

“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. 

“We need to make sure that creators get fair rewards for their content and are not ripped off by big tech. And we urgently need to ensure that the impact of Brexit doesn’t put in jeopardy the free movement of talent, just at the time when we should be looking outwards and backing the best of British talent right across the world.”

The UK live music industry first broke £1bn GVA in 2016, though the 2018 figure is around £100m higher, indicating continued growth.

Writing in the Music by Numbers 2019’s foreword, culture secretary Nicky Morgan pays tribute to emerging British acts including Sam Fender, Dave (pictured) and Little Simz, and says “the figures in this report are testament to the outstanding creativity of our world-leading artists”.


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