UK Music Business Continues to Grow, Generating Record £5.2 Billion in 2018

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for MTV
Dua Lipa performs on stage during the MTV EMAs 2019 at FIBES Conference and Exhibition Centre on Nov. 3, 2019 in Seville, Spain. 

LONDON — Hits albums and sell-out tours by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Sam Smith helped Britain's music business grow to a record £5.2 billion ($6.7 billion) in 2018, according to a new report from umbrella trade organization UK Music.   

Its inaugural "Music By Numbers" study reveals growth in every area of the business with exports of U.K. music climbing by 10% year-on-year to £2.7 billion ($3.5 billion), spanning record sales, publishing, live and international revenues collected by performance rights organizations like PRS for Music and PPL.  

The live sector also grew by 10%, generating £1.1 billion ($1.4 billion), with just under 30 million people attending live music events in the U.K. in 2018 (up 2% on 2017). Around 5 million of those were music fans going to festivals, a 23% rise in audience numbers on the previous year. Meanwhile, full-time employment in the music industry reached an all-time high of 190,935.

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said the report, which replaces the organization's previous economic studies, "Measuring Music" and "Wish You Were Here," showed that "the British music industry is in great shape and continuing to lead the world."

"The figures are hugely encouraging and show that, as well as enriching the lives of millions of people, music makes an incredible contribution to the UK's economy," said Dugher.

Breaking down the figures, which measure how much the music industry contributes to British economy, rather than just sales, record labels generated £568 million ($732 million), a rise of 5% on the previous year. The lion's share of that total (£478 million) came from exports, which grew by 8%. More than 5,000 people currently work in the British recorded music sector, say UK Music.

Publishing brought in a further £459 million ($592 million) to the British economy and £618 million in exports ($798 million).

Music retail, which encompasses physical and digital music purchases as well as music instrument sales, totaled $402 million ($518 million), although there were no comparable figures to measure growth against previous years.

Overall, label revenues rose 3% in 2018, as reported by trade body BPI, representing the third year of consecutive growth. Since 2015, label revenues have risen by more than a fifth (22%).

The Music Representatives' sector, made up of managers, trade bodies, collective management organizations (CMOs) lawyers and accountants, contributed £148 million ($191 million).

Responding to the report's findings, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said the government and music industry needed to work together to "ensure this success continues."

"We know there are also some specific challenges for the music industry," said Morgan. "From protecting intellectual property to safeguarding the grassroots sector and growing the talent pipeline, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will continue working with UK Music to allow this country's music industry to grow and flourish."


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