Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa Lift British Music Exports to £400 Million High: BPI

Ed Sheeran
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Ed Sheeran performs at BBC's The Biggest Weekend festival - Day 1 on May 26, 2018 in Swansea, United Kingdom. 

British music exports climbed to an 18-year high in 2017 following big-selling global releases from Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, Sam Smith and Dua Lipa.

U.K. labels trade body BPI reports that overseas earnings by U.K. labels rose by 12 percent last year to total just over £408 million ($527 million) - the highest figure recorded by the organisation since it began surveying export sales 18 years ago.    

The sustained growth, which follows an 11 percent rise in 2016, means that British artists have now generated over £5 billion ($6.5 billion) in exported record sales since 2000, says BPI.   

As previously reported, one in every eight albums purchased worldwide was by a British act in 2017 with U.K. artists accounting for 12.9 percent of all music purchased or streamed around the world. Only the U.S. exports more.   

Proof of the U.K. continually punching above its weight can also be found in the fact that world’s best-selling artist album in nine of the past thirteen years has been by a Brit, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s all-conquering Divide, which has sold 6.1 million units worldwide (excluding streams) according to IFPI.   

Other stand-out performances by British artists included Rag’n’Bone Man, whose debut Human was the fourth best-selling album in the world, ahead of Sam Smith’s The Thrill of it All at No.5. Harry Styles’ self-titled solo release also made the global top-10.   

Breaking down British music export revenues, BPI reports that Europe was the biggest overall market for homegrown acts, accounting for a 42 percent share, although the U.S. is the leading single national market by a significant margin, generating  over a third (35 percent) of the U.K.’s overseas music earnings.

There were also significant rises in export growth in Brazil (up 57 percent since 2015), India (up over 120 percent) and China, where U.K. record sales grew by a mammoth 432 percent from what was until recently an extremely low base.

"British music is riding high once again around the world, boosted by the talent of our artists and songwriters and the innovation and investment of record labels," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor ahead of the organisations AGM in London today (Sept. 5).

"With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the U.K. as we forge new trading relationships," he went on to say, repeating his persistent call for the British Government to support the music industry "by ensuring a strong Brexit deal that enables artists to tour freely, robustly protects music rights, and prevents physical music products being impeded in transit."