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Making music GREAT: How the UK is driving growth in the global industry

The UK’s festival circuit is the envy of the world, famed for international heavy hitters like Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival and Lovebox, as well as many hundreds of smaller events, all with their own niches and loyal audiences.

The British festival scene draws in foreign performers and music tourists – 12.5m of the latter in 2016 alone, making up 40% of the total live music market – and domestic audiences alike, while outside the festival scene, the UK also has a well-established, thriving live network spread across the entire country.

But British music isn’t only driving growth in Britain – it’s the engine room of the global live music industry. The richness and diversity of the UK’s festival landscape is reflected throughout a diverse UK talent pool making waves globally – from its world-leading, genre-defining artists to festival organisers, labels, promoters, agencies, studios, producers, sound and event technology companies, distributors and more.

Whether it’s Ed Sheeran breaking records all over the planet and Stormzy starting a grime revolution; Festival Republic exporting UK festival culture to the world and London’s powerhouse agencies securing the best deals for global talent; or world-beating recording studios, management companies, music publishers, ticket agents and innovative tech start-ups bringing British knowhow to a global audience, the UK has always been at the forefront of innovation in the music industry.

The richness and diversity of the UK’s festival landscape is reflected throughout a diverse talent pool making waves globally

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the technology space, with the UK at the forefront of the digital revolution. In addition to having one of the most comprehensive digital music services in the world – UK consumers can choose between more than 70 streaming, download and cloud-based services – this innovation is revolutionising the concert and festival businesses.

Recent wins for forward-thinking UK live music companies include a host of new venue partners for Dice, a UK mobile ticketing company whose app makes ticket touting impossible; a partnership between Birmingham-based NEC Group Arenas and UK virtual reality music company MelodyVR; expansion into the US for Festicket, a fast-growing UK-based travel portal which bundles festival tickets with travel, accommodation and other add-ons; and an increasing number of cashless festivals, including Bestival (in partnership with London-based Tappit) and Northern Ireland’s Jika Jika! Festival (with Leeds-based Event Genius).

These companies – and many more like them – embody the ambition and verve that the UK music industry possesses, and go some way to explaining the increase in music tourism and the wide-scale participation of British businesses on the global stage.

Find out more about how the experience and dynamism of the UK music industry is supporting the growth of the global live music business from Music is GREAT at IFF on 25–27 September.


Want to promote your business or product with a sponsored news story/banner package? Contact Archie Carmichael on +44 203 743 3288 or archie@iq-mag.net for more information.

Encouraging music tourism

In November 2016, I hosted the world’s first Music Tourist Summit in Glasgow (the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music) aimed at fostering closer ties between the music and tourism industries and laying the foundations to develop a global network and consultancy.

The event began with a day of TED-style talks and workshops hosted in a brewery, followed by evening networking activities and a music tour the next morning involving visits to several key venues.

Speakers included representatives from Icelandair, ICS Festival Service’s Full Metal Cruise, an Oslo hotel with its own recording studio, a tour operator offering packages to an electronic music festival in Cuba, and an AC/DC tribute festival in the small Scottish town where Bon Scott lived before his family emigrated to Australia. Moreover, delegates also heard from industry organisation UK Music, whose most recent Wish You Were Here report estimates that live music tourism is worth £3.7 billion (€4.3bn) to the British economy.

By the end of the first day of the summit, 53% of survey respondents stated that they were ‘very likely’ (with a further 29% responding ‘likely’) to do business with the other sector – and that was before the whisky tasting got underway.

Given that these figures are based on delegates who had met only hours earlier, they indicate the huge potential of what could be achieved if music and tourism businesses work together in a concerted manner. Nevertheless, in far too many places throughout the world, the music and tourism industries still appear to operate in parallel universes. Many festival promoters appear resigned to the lack of engagement from destination marketing organisations (DMOs) and governments (local, regional and national), which often appear to feel more comfortable targeting segments such as food/drink, city breaks, walking/nature, golf, or MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions).

As a result, music tourists are not being encouraged to extend their stays, thereby depriving visitor attractions, restaurants, bars and accommodation providers of business. And in an age where travel decisions are increasingly made on the basis of recommendations, this means destinations are missing out on valuable word-of-mouth promotion.

“In far too many places throughout the world, the music and tourism industries still appear to operate in parallel universes”

Prior to launching Music Tourist, I spent several years highlighting the benefits of co-operation and have recently noticed encouraging signs that previously disinterested DMOs, governments, hoteliers and public bodies are slowly beginning to take notice. In part this is due to a growing awareness of initiatives in cities such as Austin, Nashville and Hamburg, but it also reflects the emergence of a new generation of individuals in both industries who are keen to seek out new opportunities.

Since 2011, the Wish You Were Here report (to which I contributed preliminary research) has served as an additional tool to get the attention of decision makers both in the UK and internationally. However, as it focuses only on people travelling for the purpose of attending a music event (as do most economic impact studies conducted by festivals) it fails to reveal the full potential. Visitors taking part in music retreats, residential workshops and music-based tours are currently excluded from the study, as are tourists travelling for other reasons but who may be keen to experience the local musical offerings. For venues, promoters, musicians and even record shops, the latter should be of most interest, as it is where many opportunities lie. Tourism research indicates a trend where people want to feel local (rather than like a tourist) and going to a gig is the perfect way to engage with the indigenous community.

Grassroots venues, in particular, can benefit from focusing marketing activity where it reaches visitors (eg accommodation providers, tourism information offices and travel websites). Moreover, the MICE market offers great potential as corporate clients seek out more original locations and experiences, which can involve hiring clubs for events and programming music activity.

Conversely, when hoteliers, as well as visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, castles and churches, are interested in working with music, they are often unsure of how to go about engaging with promoters, artists, agents and managers.

Music Tourist is a forum where they can all connect, and by working with partners to host summits around the world, it will seek to prioritise local requirements while simultaneously creating ties on an international level.

Since the inaugural event in November, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau has announced that music will form a key element of its promotional strategy. Scotland’s visitor attractions are set to benefit from an influx of thousands of metal cruisers, and Cuban musicians will be hired to perform for German visitors. These early outcomes are encouraging and are the first steps in building a community around music tourism, where everyone can feel local.

 


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Loss of festivals no big deal, says Goan minister

There will be no decline in tourism in Goa this Christmas, despite the state government having forced two of India’s biggest musical festivals to relocate, its tourism minister has declared.

Rival dance music festivals Sunburn and Supersonic – the former of which attracted 350,000 festivalgoers in 2015 – will both move to Pune (Poona), in Maharashtra, this December after Dilip Parulekar declared they would no longer be welcome in Goa in 2016.

Speaking to the IANS news agency, Parulekar says the impact on tourism should be minimal. “People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM,” he comments. “It will not affect [footfall] much.”

“People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM”

Announcing Supersonic’s move, Saugato Bhowmik, of promoter Viacom18, praised Pune for its “openness towards modern influences” – in contrast, perhaps, to Goa, where one local politician accused dance music of being “against [Indian] culture and [pro-] pushing drugs” – and a “world-class destination” for the festival.

“Deeply-rooted in culture and traditions, the city is known for its openness towards modern influences and thought, Pune is a seamless blend of local culture and global influences, thereby making it an apt destination for the upcoming edition of Vh1 Supersonic,” says Bhowmik. “We also see this as an ongoing journey to provide transformative experiences to today’s youth by creating the Supersonic world at the kind of world-class destinations that Pune is providing to us. We are looking forward to a very successful Vh1 Supersonic, celebrating Pune as our new home.”

Insomniac held its first event in the subcontinent, Electric Daisy Carnival India, at the Buddh International Circuit near Delhi last weekend.

 


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Music tourism up in Italy in 2015

There was a significant increase in music tourism in Italy last year, with 6% more people travelling from another part of the country to attend a concert or festival.

Of the 6.1 million concert tickets sold in 2015, 31.4% were bought by people from outside the region where the event was held, many of them travelling over 200km (124mi) to attend, reveals a report commissioned by Italian industry association Assomusica.

Additionally, the report found that around 2.7% of concertgoers came from abroad.

According to Assomusica, the numbers come amid “a wave of optimism for the variety of musical events for the 2016 summer season: whether this be rock, with Bruce Springsteen returning to San Siro in Milan and David Gilmour to Pompeii, or classical music, with major events like the Puccini Festival of Torre del Lago and the Rossini Opera Festival of Pesaro”.

“We’re seeing growth in tourism related to music, in line with a greater number of concerts and performances”

“We’re seeing growth in tourism related to music, in line with a greater number of concerts and performances,” explains Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera, who adds that the sector last year generated close to €640 million in turnover.

Andrea Cortelazzi, head of marketing at tour operator Sipario Musicale, echoes Spera’s remarks, telling Il Sole 24 Ore: “There’s very strong demand for this segment of the market. Demand is constantly growing.”

The report will be released in full this winter.

 


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Pricey flights, lack of beds stifling Croat fests

Festival promoters and representatives from tourist boards, airlines and tour operators came together to discuss the future of the Croatian live market at the first Croatia Music Event (CME) in London on 9 June.

Hosted by festival package holiday company Croatia Wave, the panel included Mark Newton of Hideout Festival, Tom Paine and Dave Harvey of Love International, Croatia Wave CEO Mike Gill, Croatia Airlines’ Ally Byers Irma Mchardy, Ivona Grgan of the Croatian National Tourist Office and moderator Marcus Barnes of festival website Fest300.

One of the key issues for British promoters, said Harvey, is the price of flights, commenting that “going to Croatia has now become something that compares with Ibiza in terms of costs, where it never used to be”. Newton suggested that “currently the travel options into Croatia are still limited, as are the accommodation options once in the country” and added that it is “still a struggle for UK customers to find affordable flights into the country – something that can only change with support from the top.”

Mchardy emphasised the need for more forward planning. She said: “We have worked closely over the past few years with festival promoters and are looking to do so in the future. However, an issue that requires addressing is better planning on their behalf: in order to ensure the right price promoters need to earmark capacity with carriers earlier on in the year, rather then leaving it fairly late.”

“More commitment”, she said, is also required “in terms of earlier payments for flights or even looking at charter flight options”.

“It is still a struggle for UK customers to find affordable flights into the country – something that can only change with support from the top”

“If we could all work together to supply a straightforward price for the consumer then it would benefit us all,” added Paine.

One audience member suggested Croatia also suffers from a lack of beds, although Barnes said that much of the appeal of going to a Croatian festival is in the “down-to-earth and grassroots nature of the country”.

Newton said that in order for Croatia to grow further, “it needs to look outside of just music festivals, and also begin to look at developing areas and resorts which can have music and youth-based entertainment running on a season-long programme, in order to increase tourism throughout the summer and not just for occasional peak weeks. A joined-up approach working from the government downwards in accepting music and youth tourism and allowing it to flourish would be the next step.”

Byers opined that the future for Croatian music tourism lies in unique events not available elsewhere. “People in their early 20s will be motivated to come to do something different in Croatia,” she said. “A lot of micro-breweries, new industries, niche holidays and boutique hotels are beginning to crop up. If everyone plays it well, there will be a whole new series of niches popping up in Croatia.”

Tourism in Croatia accounts for up to 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), although high travel prices and accommodation limitations are, says Croatia Wave, affecting growth.

 


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38% of UK concertgoers are music tourists

Over one in three attendees at live music events in Britain last year were music tourists – an increase of 16% on 2014.

A total of 10.4 million music tourists attended UK festivals and concerts in 2015, of which 767,000 were from overseas, reveals UK Music’s Wish You Were Here 2016 report, released today. Foreign concertgoers bought £38m worth of tickets and spent an average of £852 each (up 13% on 2014).

The report also revealed that music tourists spent a total of £3.7 billion in 2015, with 39,034 full-time jobs reliant on the sector.

It was also strong year for British live music in general, with 3.7m people attending a festival and 24m at least one concert (although last year’s WYWH report focused solely on music tourism, so there are no comparable data for the market as a whole).

“This is a fantastic achievement and a great testament to both our live music industry and the musical talent it supports”

“This is a fantastic achievement and a great testament to both our live music industry and the musical talent it supports,” says UK culture secretary John Whittingdale OBE, who penned the foreword to the report. “This is no surprise given British artists account for just over one in seven albums purchased by fans around the globe.”

The report also contains in-depth analyses of regional markets around the UK. In London there were 3.2m music tourists (of a total attendance of 8.4m) as the capital’s grassroots venues begin to rebound following years of decline.

A launch event for Wish You Were Here 2016 will take place at the House of Commons on Wednesday (15 June).

 


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