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UK music is booming says UK Music – but it still needs help

By | Published on Thursday 1 November 2018

UK Music

The British music industry is growing, with export particularly on the rise, according to UK Music’s annual stats-packed ‘Measuring Music’ report. In fact, everything was up in 2017 and it looks like it will be again in 2018. Though it could all be fucked up in 2019 if the government doesn’t pull its finger out.

According to the report, music’s contribution to the UK economy last year – aka the ‘gross value added’ – was £4.5 billion, up 2%, or £100 million, from 2016. Exports, meanwhile, were up 7% to £2.6 billion, thanks to the likes of Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Rag N Bone Man, Harry Styles and Depeche Mode.

Breaking the figures down, the bulk of that economic contribution – £2 billion – came from the businesses and projects of musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists, an increase of 1%. Although the recent return to growth of the record industry meant the highest increases in the report were in music rights, with the contribution of record companies up 9% to £700 million and music publishing up 7% to £505 million. Both music rights sectors also saw exports increase by 11%. Live music, meanwhile, accounted for just under £1 billion.

Employment in the music sector was up too, with a 3% increase in the number of people working in music. There are now 145,815 of you bastards.

“British music brings enjoyment to millions and makes a massive contribution to the UK plc”, says UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher. “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 continues: “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”.

Yeah, did you feel a ‘but’ looming in all that too? The but in this case is the lack of government support for young people who might want to work in music in some capacity at some point in the future. Which brings us back to the debate around music education, which has seen massive cuts in recent years, meaning its kids whose parents can afford to pay for private lessons who have the best opportunities.

As well as all that, Dugher stressed the need for creators to be able to earn a proper living from their work – nudging the government to ensure that the increased protections for music makers that it’s hoped might be provided by the new European Copyright Directive will be implemented by the UK government. Even if we leave the European Union before we are obliged to implement that directive into British law.

“Every child from every background should have the opportunity to access music, to experience its transformative power and to try out a career in the industry if they want to – regardless of whether or not they have access to the Bank of Mum and Dad”, says Dugher.

“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”.

Providing the usual token nod to the latest figures, Minister For Digital And The Creative Industries, Margot James, says: “We need to build on these achievements and as the minister responsible for the creative industries I am firmly committed to doing just that”.

Given most ministers in the UK government don’t actually seem to be all that committed to doing much about anything at the moment – apart from flapping their arms and panicking about the impending disaster of Brexit, which they’re all still obliged to pretend they think is a good idea because, you know, will of people – we’ll just have to wait and see what James’s ‘firm commitment’ really means.