At a time when grassroots venues across the United Kingdom are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, a new report outlining the value of the British music industry illustrates the sector’s importance to the country’s financial well-being.
In 2014, the music business contributed £4.1 billion ($6.3 billion) to the U.K. economy, a 5 percent rise on the previous year’s total of £3.8 billion ($5.8 billion), according to the third annual “Measuring Music” report published by umbrella trade organization UK Music.
Of that £4.1 billion, over half came from music exports, which totaled £2.1 billion ($3.2 billion) — a slight fall on the previous year’s total of £2.2 billion ($3.4 billion), which UK Music attributed to fluctuating exchange rates, predominately the euro falling against the British pound. Within the subcategory of music exports, British musicians and composers generated £926 million ($1.4 billion) of international revenue, with publishing totaling £519 million($798 million) in value.
“2014 proved to be another hugely successful year for British music,” said UK Music CEO Jo Dipple. “The sector outperformed the rest of the U.K. economy and grew by 5% year-on-year,” she continued, crediting the global success of “artists like Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Pink Floyd, Ellie Goulding, One Direction and Calvin Harris” with driving the “U.K.’s cultural footprint and soft power.”
Outside of exports, live events were the second-largest contributor to the U.K. music economy and its biggest-growing sector, bringing in £924 million ($1.4 billion) in 2014, compared to £789 million ($1.3 billion) the previous year. The Measuring Music report states that there was almost 26.7 million visits made to U.K. music events in 2014.
However, the gross economic contribution of the record industry fell for the third consecutive year, slipping from £618 million ($950 million) in 2013 to £615 million ($946 million) in 2014. The economic value of the publishing industry was also down year-on-year, dropping from £436 million ($670 million) to £410 million ($630 million).
That was partially compensated for increased revenues from music producers, recording studios and staff, which climbed from £102 million ($157 million) to £116 million ($178 million). Music representatives, comprising collecting societies, managers and trade bodies, were also above last year’s figure, rising by 11 percent to total £89 million ($137 million).
In 2014, labels and publishers invested £500 million ($770 million) in new British music and talent. The report also provides a comprehensive breakdown of employment statistics, revealing that last year there were 117,000 people in full-time employment within the industry, the majority (over 69,000) of which were musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists.
The second biggest employer was live music (25,000), followed by record producers and studio staff (10,900). Around 8,500 people were employed on a full-time basis in the record industry in 2014.
“Our artists continue to dominate the global charts and shows from the Royal Ballet and Rod Stewart to the LSO and Status Quo, sell out concerts across the globe,” added Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, issuing the patriotic decree, “As Secretary of State, I want to do all I can to ensure that British music continues to thrive.”