The Great Escape music conference and festival in Brighton focused on the U.K.'s burgeoning live industry on its first day.

U.K. live revenue - £1.39 billion ($2.04 billion) - moved ahead of the British retail value of recorded music - £1.31 billion ($1.92 billion) - in 2008, according to a report from PRS for Music chief economist Will Page published last July. A panel discussing the boom in live music built upon this topic, with Page revealing the live industry had grown another 4% in 2009 after its historic achievement of 2008.

Fellow PRS for Music economist Chris Carey opened the three-day event with an outlook on revenues generated by various collecting bodies over the past year.

Tools such as Songkick, which synchs with a music fan's iTunes collection and informs the user about relevant upcoming gigs, have helped to reduce the estimated 40% of unsold tickets each year and according to Svetlana Scheck-Ramzy, AEG marketing director, tickets are now selling "faster and easier than ever."

However, the issue of ticket pricing still remains an obstacle in maintaining consumer interest and satisfying demand.

Attention then turned to accessibility of music and the role of streaming services such as Spotify, during a digital music panel featuring executives from 7digital, We7, the Orchard and Musicmetric.

Steve Purdham, CEO and founder of U.K. streaming service We7, pressed the importance of paying rights holders for something of "perceived value" and felt that the growth of streaming services was slowly but surely "cannibalizing" the piracy world.

In terms of revenue generated - an ongoing issue for a market still in its infancy - Scott Cohen, VP international and founder of the Orchard, remarked it was like "unlocking dead revenue" in comparison to the single transaction of buying a CD.

Simon Fox, CEO of the U.K.'s largest entertainment retailer HMV, was one of the most high profile speakers. He discussed the company's plans for further diversification into fashion, live and digital.

As of tomorrow (May 14), HMV stores will feature a music-inspired fashion line modeled around 'Camden Cool' and 'Festival Chic.' "Fashion is an obvious move for us, it is so intertwined with music - one inspires the other," said Fox. He also touched on HMV's loyalty card, Pure - now with over 1 million users - and the recent acquisitions of Mama Group and a 50% share of 7digital, as well as the success of Christmas pop-up stores.

The first day of the Great Escape also shone a spotlight on host nation Australia, and its importance as a valuable export territory. A packed panel featuring managers, label executives and PR reps gave tips on how to break into the eighth largest recorded music market.

The Great Escape runs May 13 to 15 and the festival features over 350 bands showcasing through the south coast town of Brighton, U.K.