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UK recorded music exports grew by 20% last year

By | Published on Thursday 6 July 2023


UK recorded music exports last year were up 20% to £709 million according to new stats from record industry trade group BPI. So, that’s the revenues generated by the sales and streams of UK releases outside the UK.

That significant surge comes despite the Anglo-American music industries – which have generally enjoyed the most success in the past when it comes to exporting artists and releases – now facing much more competition from music made elsewhere in the world. In particular South Korea and some of the key Latin American markets.

Breaking down the export stats a little, the BPI says “there was a double-digit percentage increase in physical and digital download sales, streams and other consumption of British music in every region globally last year”.

“This was led by emerging music markets”, it adds, “including the Middle East (+59%), Africa (+48%) and Latin America (+38%), where streaming user bases grew significantly in volume”. Though, “UK music consumption also increased in more established markets, rising in North America (+28%), Europe (+11%), Asia (+17%) and Oceania (+16%)”.

The biggest market for UK recorded music exports is the US, the biggest recorded music market of them all by quite some margin. There, export revenues were up 28% year-on-year.

Some of that was down to the strong value of the US dollar against the pound, but also – of course – the success of numerous British artists in the American market, including Harry Styles, Glass Animals, Adele, Coldplay, Kate Bush and Sam Smith.

Growth in the second biggest market for UK exports, Germany, was a more modest 4%. But in a bunch more markets there was double digit growth, including: France (+15%), Australia (+17%), Canada (+30%), the Netherlands (+15%), Italy (+18%), Spain (14%) and Brazil (47%). And if you’d prefer triple digit growth, in India export revenues were up 130% year-on-year.

Commenting on the stats, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Executive, Sophie Jones, says: “These record export numbers by UK labels represent an exceptional achievement in the face of unprecedented competition on the global music stage, both from long-established and rapidly-expanding new music markets”.

The BPI has set a goal for UK recorded music exports to top £1 billion a year by 2030, and Jones notes that the 2022 stats show the industry is making good progress in achieving that ambition. Although, of course, she also stresses that the industry needs ongoing government support to help ensure the £1 billion a year target can be met.

“For this growth to continue”, she adds, “the UK needs to remain a supportive environment for investment in music, and policy makers should continue to work with industry to maximise the overseas potential of UK music”.

One of the ways the UK government already supports this activity is the BPI-managed Music Export Growth Scheme, which provides funding for independent artists and labels looking to pursue opportunities in new markets. Additional funding for that scheme was confirmed last month.

Welcoming that development once again, Jones concludes: “MEGS has played an integral role in driving our export numbers with a high number of artists who have received funding now enjoying substantial and sustained streaming success in overseas markets. This, in turn, is delivering for the UK economy”.

And now for some quotes from some politicians…

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer: “From global superstars to emerging artists, British music is breaking records across the world. The government wants to support them every step of the way and we’re investing millions to help the next generation of talent launch international careers and keep UK artists at the top of the charts for years to come”.

Exports Minister Malcolm Offord: “We are proud to support our creative industries, so it is excellent news that British music exports grew at a record rate in 2022. Last month we announced that we tripled funding for the Music Export Growth Scheme, ensuring the next generation of UK artists and small and medium-sized enterprises can continue to champion British music abroad, share our world class UK creativity across the globe, create jobs and grow the economy”.