British Music Industry Reaches Record $5.8 Billion in 2017

Despite record-breaking revenue, the threat of Brexit still looms over the British music industry.

Thanks to the success of Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, and Ed Sheeran, among others, the British music industry has posted record revenue.

The UK Music’s annual Measuring Music report revealed the industry contributed £4.4 billion ($5.7 billion) in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the British economy.  This number rose 6% over the previous year.  Musicians, composers, songwriters, and lyricists made up a bulk of that amount, contributing £2 billion ($2.6 billion) in GVA.  Producers, recording studios, and their staff contributed £121 million ($157.3 million).

The music sector in the UK grew 13% to £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion), with the number of jobs growing to 142,208.  The British live concert industry also grew 12% to 30.9 million total concert attendance.  Music festival attendance reached 3.8 million.  Between 2015 and 2016, publishing export grew 25%.

Breaking down individual cases, PRS for Music has also seen its membership nearly double from 65,000 in 2010 to 125,000 last year.  PPL’s repertoire database more than doubled, from 5.5 million in 2011 to just over 11 million.

Proving the strength of the local grime scene, Stormzy had 20 million cumulative tracks in the first week of his album, Gang Sings and Prayer.  He became the first grime artist to reach number 1 in the UK Album charts.

But, what about Brexit?

A significant number of the UK music industry’s workforce come from other European Union countries.  In 2016, UK Music found 10% of the industry’s workforce hold a passport for an EU country outside Britain.  In contrast, just 7% of Britain’s workforce come from other EU countries.

Surveying musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers, and artist managers about Brexit, the organization found surprising results.

Only 2.3% said leaving the European Union would have a positive impact on their work in the industry.  50.1% fear a negative impact.  19.5% believe Brexit won’t really have an impact on the British music industry.  And, around one in five – or 28% – don’t really know what’s going to happen.

Highlighting the positive impacts of Brexit, UK Music posits the move could open the door to new opportunities.  This includes renegotiating existing terms of trade, enabling the industry to grow and develop new international markets.

Yet, Brexit could make touring difficult and expensive for musicians and crews to move across Europe.  Increased bureaucracy could make it harder to promote music across the continent, damaging the industry’s export markets.  Developing new markets in ‘unproven’ countries could also prove a major risk. In addition, the EU, writes the organization, provides a high level of protection for copyright.  Brexit could ultimately compromise and diminish this existing protection.

Finalizing its report, UK Music vows to press the British government to help musicians work overseas “free of extra burdens and added costs.”

You can view the report here.