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UK music industry grows by 2%, it must now tackle key challenges



The UK Music released the 2018 Measuring Music report on 1st November which revealed that the music industry exports in the country rose by 7% to a record of £2.6 billion last year.

The rise in the music industry exports have been credited to the growth of recorded music and publishing revenues. The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017 to contribute £4.5 billion to the economy.

The report demonstrated continued sustained growth of the music industry contributing a reasonable chunk to the economy. With the exports rising, the music sector employs around 145,815 people. Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said,

“2017 was a very successful year globally for the UK music industry. Ed Sheeran’s third album ÷ (Divide) was the biggest selling album of the year. The O2 in London was officially the most popular live music arena in the world. Five of the top ten most successful worldwide tours were from UK acts. 2018 is proving to be no different. We need to build on these achievements and as the Minister responsible for the creative industries I am firmly committed to doing just that.”

UK music report3


As per the report, collaborative initiatives where the UK Government partners with the music industry have enormously helped to raise the international profile of British artists. The Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) – managed by the BPI and funded by the Department for International Trade (DIT) as part of the Export is GREAT campaign – has now distributed over £3 million to around 200 music exports projects since it made its very first awards to 15 artists in February 2014.

Also, the UK music industry is actively involved in international trade missions and events which includes collaborative working between organisations like AIM, BPI, MPA, PPL and PRS for Music in promoting British music. Recently, there were missions which included visits to growing music markets such as China and India, while the annual LA Sync mission and UK presence at MIDEM in France and SXSW in Austin, Texas are also key fixtures in the music industry calendar. The industry also has taken a proactive approach to events designed for attracting international buyers to the UK, such as The Great Escape in Brighton.

Even though the UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher is happy about the figures, he also expresses the need to nurture the music industry’s talent pipeline. Dugher said,

“British music brings enjoyment to millions and makes a massive contribution to the UK plc. I’m really proud of the fact that these figures show once again that when it comes to music, we in the UK are very, very good at what we do. We are a global leader in music and we continue to grow faster than other parts of the British economy and to punch well above our weight.”

He added,

“Music exports are a particular British success story and organisations like PRS for Music and PPL, that help ensure creators and investors see a return for their work, have also performed particularly strongly in 2017. These figures show what can be achieved when we choose to back the British music industry.”


The UK Music chief executive further opined,

“That’s why we need further government support to help us ensure we produce the next generation of world-leading British talent by backing music in education, protecting grassroots music venues and making sure that creators are properly rewarded for their work. If we do that, we can be even more successful in the future.”

It is quite clear that the UK music industry is flourishing, however there are some key challenges that it must focus on. The report reads, “It is vital we recognise the challenges we face in the years ahead. We will need to meet these challenges if we are to safeguard the continued success of our sector. As well as highlighting success, we must also recognise a number of issues facing our industry today. These affect thousands of jobs in our industry, supporting and influencing the pipeline that will produce future talent. We report that creators contribute £2bn in Gross Value Added but as set out on page 8 this does not reflect their level of average earnings in the industry. For too many, this remains a low-earning sector.”

It further read, “If we want to keep producing world-leading stars in every field, we need to open up opportunities to music so that they are available to people of all backgrounds. And we also need to invest in music education, venues, rehearsal spaces and other areas that combine to form the unique ecosystem of the music industry.”


Highlighting the importance of technology in music, the report states that it is vital that big tech plays its part in addressing problems faced by music creators. Google-owned YouTube needs to return fairer rewards. At present, creators can expect to get as little as £0.00054 per stream from the service.

Speaking on the digital space in the music industry, UK Music chairman Andy Heath said,

“We are fortunate that levels of creativity in the music industry are really promising at the moment. 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. 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. In the years ahead, it will be a test to help audiences and consumers differentiate and find the musical gems that make our industry so unique.”

Music Plus Team

Author: Music Plus Team

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