Business News Labels & Publishers Live Business Management & Funding Top Stories

UK music industry’s economic impact reached £5.8 billion in 2019 – further support will be needed to restore that post-COVID

By | Published on Wednesday 18 November 2020

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has reported that the economic impact of the British music industry in 2019 was £5.8 billion, up 11% from the previous year. The industry was also employing more people, and its impact on UK exports and UK tourism were both also up. However, of course, this was all before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire live industry and negatively impacted on many other strands of the music business too. The music community, UK Music says, now faces a “marathon effort” to get back to where it was in 2019.

UK Music has been assessing the economic impact of the wider music industry – technically speaking the ‘gross value added’ – every year since 2013. It involves gathering stats for each strand of the music industry, including recordings, publishing, live, management and the thousands of individual artist and songwriter businesses. As of last year, music lawyers, music accountants, recording studios and music retailers are also included in the stats.

Based on all of that, the economic impact of the wider music industry in 2019 was £5.8 billion, compared to £5.2 billion in 2018. That breaks down as £2.7 billion (music creators), £1.3 billion (live), £613 million (recordings), £524 million (publishing), £463 million (retail), and £170 million (artist representatives).

Elsewhere, according to UK Music’s maths, employment hit an all-time high with 197,168 people working in the sector, while the industry’s contribution to music tourism was up from £4.5 billion to £4.7 billion, and its impact on exports was up from £2.7 billion to £2.9 billion.

In normal times, of course, these stats would spark a celebration about just how brilliant the British music industry is doing thanks to all its general brilliance. But in 2020 the focus is entirely on the catastrophic impact of the COVID shutdown and what that will mean for music industry revenues – and the economic impact of the sector – this year. And, for that matter, next year and beyond.

Positive announcements regarding COVID vaccines have increased optimism that live music will return in 2021, but most people expect the revival of the sector to take time. As for what impact the shutdown has had on the industry’s infrastructure, that will only really become fully clear once the revival begins.

Financial support from the UK government – both sector-specific and general – has helped many music companies and music professionals, but by no means all music companies and music professionals. Too many have missed out on support because of technicalities.

Industry-led schemes have filled some of those gaps to an extent, but plenty of companies and individuals continue to struggle. And even those who have funding in place to get them through to next March, still face plenty of challenges in the year ahead.

Of course COVID has hit different strands of the music industry in different ways. Because subscription streaming hasn’t really been affected by the pandemic, the record industry – for which that is now the biggest revenue stream overall – has been much more COVID immune. That has also sparked a big debate over industry conventions that mean that artists and songwriters often see a much smaller cut of streaming monies than they do with other revenue streams.

Whatever happens next, any 2020 stats published next year for all but the record industry are going to make for depressing reading. The challenge for the record industry will be defending why its stats are still pretty healthy. While the challenge for the industry at large will be how it can get back to 2019 levels, so that once again its economic impact in the UK tops £5.8 billion. Further and ongoing government support is certainly going to be crucial.

Commenting on his organisation’s latest ‘Music By Numbers’ report, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “Our music industry is a key national asset. As this report shows, it contributes £5.8 billion a year to the economy, generates £2.9 billion in exports, and supports almost 200,000 jobs. It boosts Britain’s standing in the world, bringing a soft power that few other industries can boast. This report shows just how valuable our music industry is – and how important it is that we take action to protect it”.

“The UK music industry was a vibrant, fast-growing and commercially successful sector before the pandemic hit, and with the right support it can be again”, he added. “I am convinced we have the people, the drive and determination to fire up our industry once more and become a key part of our country’s post-COVID-19 economic and cultural revival”.