UK Music have called for urgent support to help revive “our world-leading music industry” following the “catastrophic blow” the coronavirus pandemic has dealt the sector in 2020.
The organisation, who represent the collective interests of the country’s music industry, made the plea as they published their annual Music By Numbers report today (November 18), which reveals the economic contribution of the UK music business to the British economy.
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The official figures in the report cover the 12 months up to December 31, 2019, so they do not reflect the huge impact that the health crisis has had on the music industry in 2020.
The report states that the UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019 (up 11% from £5.2 billion in 2018) and that employment in the industry hit an all-time high of 197,168 — an increase of 3% from 190,935 in 2018.
The total export revenue of the music industry in 2019 was £2.9 billion – up 9% from £2.7 billion in 2018 — while it also notes that music tourism alone contributed £4.7 billion in terms of spending.
The report notes, however, the “marathon effort” required to get the industry back on its feet following the “catastrophic blow” dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.
UK Music say that the subsequent restrictions have “produced a domino effect” in the sector this year, such as the shuttering of music venues across the country which have caused a substantial loss of income for musicians, venue staff and touring crew.
UK Music estimates that up to 85% of live music revenue has been lost since March, and that 65% of musicians’ income will be lost in 2020 — a figure that rises to 80% “for those most dependent on live performance and recording studio work”.
“For these performers, many have seen their income reduce to zero since March,” the report adds. “Most music creators are self-employed. The industry relies very heavily on freelancers and the self-employed, many of whom have fallen through the cracks during 2020, not qualifying for the support that has been made available.
“The UK music industry is a commercially successful sector that was growing before the pandemic, and can grow again. Music has always been a British success story and a national asset, that delivers at home and abroad. There is no reason why that cannot continue, but that future depends on us saving the music ecosystem that we have and supporting individual music creators and freelancers especially during this critical period.”
Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage, writing in the report’s introduction, said that the UK music industry is “the envy of the world” and “a fantastic overseas calling card for Britain”.
“However, we know what an immensely tough year 2020 has been for the music industry as a result of Covid-19 which has presented significant challenges for the sector,” she added.
“That is why the Government stepped in with an unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the sector weather the impact of coronavirus and protect music venues, festivals, and our vital cultural assets.”
Commenting on the report, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said that it shows “just how successful our industry was before the catastrophic blow of Covid-19 knocked it down, and how important it is that we get it back on its feet”.
“When the time comes to recover from this pandemic, our world-leading music industry can be a key part of our country’s post-Covid economic and cultural revival – but we need the right support to get us there,” he said.
“Our music industry is a key national asset. As this report shows, it contributes £5.8 billion a year to the economy, generates £2.9 billion in exports, and supports almost 200,000 jobs. It boosts Britain’s standing in the world, bringing a soft power that few other industries can boast.
“This report shows just how valuable our music industry is – and how important it is that we take action to protect it. The UK music industry was a vibrant, fast-growing and commercially successful sector before the pandemic hit, and with the right support it can be again.
Njoku-Goodwin added: “I am convinced we have the people, the drive and determination to fire up our industry once more and become a key part of our country’s post-Covid-19 economic and cultural revival.”