U.K. Music Biz Now Worth $5.8 Billion a Year

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A general view over the London skyline on July 10, 2015 in London.

Global stars Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Rag'n'Bone Man helped grow the British music industry to record levels in 2017, according to a new report from umbrella organization UK Music.

It's annual "Measuring Music" study reveals growth across almost every sector with the overall U.K. music industry contributing £4.5 billion ($5.8 billion) to the country's economy, a rise of 2 percent (£100 million) on the previous year.

Over half of that total came from music exports, which rose 7 percent year-on-year to £2.6 billion ($3.3 billion) across record sales, publishing, live and international revenues collected by performance rights organizations like PRS for Music and PPL.

When export revenues are included in the total figures, UK Music reports that musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists generated £2 billion in 2017. A further £991 million came from live shows, ticketing and festivals with record labels raking in £700 million, up 9 percent on 2016.    

There were also big rises in publishing (up 7 percent to £505 million), while the production sector (incorporating studios, producers and staff) brought in £122 million. Collection societies, music managers and trade bodies collectively earned £99 million.

As a result, employment across the whole of the British music industry climbed by 3 percent to over 145,000 jobs, the majority of which (91,000) work as musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists. The second biggest employer was the live industry, employing over 28,000 people.

"I'm really proud of the fact that these figures show once again that when it comes to music, we in the U.K. are very, very good at what we do," said UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher.

"These figures show what can be achieved when we choose to back the British music industry," he stated, calling for further government backing to help "ensure we produce the next generation of world-leading British talent."

Increased funding in music education, protection of grassroots music venues and tougher copyright regulations were all needed to keep the country one of the world's biggest music exporters, warned UK Music. "If we do that, we can be even more successful in the future," said Dugher.

"It is a fantastic time for music-makers and for consumers – both in the variety of music on offer and the different ways that people can choose to listen to music. However, there are challenges," added UK Music chairman Andy Heath.

"It is difficult in the digital age to break new talent because of the sheer quantity of music out there in a crowded marketplace. That difficulty is growing and means brilliant creators have to fight harder than ever to get their music heard," he stated.

Responding to the report's findings, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said she was "firmly committed" to supporting the British music industry and building on its continued success.