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NI study shows live music’s importance to economy

The economic importance of music to Northern Ireland (NI) has been underlined by a new study.

Figures published ahead of today’s (16 November) Music Cities event at Sound of Belfast and the NI Music Prize show that live music and music creators account for more than 75% of the sector’s overall gross value (GVA).

The music sector in NI contributed almost £345m to the economy in 2019 and accounted for almost 6,500 jobs. The direct music sector contributed £115 million in GVA and 3,600 jobs, having almost doubled since the last economic study in 2013.

Prior to the pandemic, concerts and festivals held in NI attracted over one million attendees each year. According to UK Music, 234,000 music tourists visited the country in 2019, generating £81m in tourist spend.

“The publication of these figures represents an important step in educating policy makers on the vital role that music plays in supporting the NI economy”

“The publication of these figures represents an important step in educating policy makers on the vital role that music plays in supporting the NI economy,” says Charlotte Dryden, CEO of Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre. “Music is more than a hobby or a ‘nice to have’; it provides jobs for thousands of employed and freelance staff across the region, from artist managers, record producers and music technology companies through to individuals working in talent development roles, as we do at Oh Yeah.

“Collectively, we are not just a rich community asset, but an economic keystone. At our Music Cities afternoon and the NI Music Prize, we will be celebrating all of those who work in our sector, including the behind-the-scenes champions of creativity and innovation.”

The research, which does not take into account Covid’s impact on the sector, was commissioned by communications firm Fourth Pillar and supported by Northern Ireland Screen with funding provided by the Department for Communities. The research was independently conducted by economists Metro Dynamics.

“Music promotes NI plc around the world, generating important revenue streams and furthering a positive image of a place that is attractive to live, work and visit,” says Lynne Best, managing partner at Fourth Pillar. “Using this data, we will continue to engage with policymakers, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure that the value of creators is respected, professionals are supported and our music economy enjoys sustainable growth.”

Established by the Oh Yeah Music Centre, Sound of Belfast is an annual celebration of the music of the city and runs from 10-20 November.


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