British Recorded Music Exports Leap 20% to Surpass £700 Million Annually for the First Time

British Recorded Music
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British Recorded Music
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Photo Credit: Kate Bush by Stephen Luff / CC by 2.0

British recorded music exports leap 20% to surpass £700 million annually for the first time as UK artists led by Harry Styles and Glass Animals dominate the year’s biggest global streaming hits despite increasing international competition.

New BPI analysis reveals British recorded music exports increased in value by 20% year-on-year in 2022 to a new high of £709 million. Backed by label support, success was driven by established and breaking UK talent, including Harry Styles and Glass Animals, who were behind the top two most-streamed tracks globally in 2022.

Nearly two dozen artists funded by the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) for independent artists each accumulated over 100 million audio streams annually. The leap in overseas revenue was boosted by growth in new markets across the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America alongside more established territories and has put the UK on track to deliver the BPI’s aim of annual British music exports of £1 billion by the end of the decade.

Representing the highest annual export level since 2000, when the BPI began its yearly survey of label overseas income, the record figure came in a year when UK artists were behind some of the most significant tracks streamed on services worldwide. “As It Was” by Harry Styles was the most-streamed track globally of 2022, according to data from Luminate, with “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals at No. 2. They were joined in the year’s Top 10 by Elton John, Dua Lipa, and Ed Sheeran.

All but one of the UK’s 20 leading territories for recorded music experienced growth, including its biggest market in the US, where revenue improved by 28% year-on-year. While this growth was partially enhanced by the substantial value of the US dollar against the British pound, a situation mirrored elsewhere with other foreign currencies against sterling, it also reflected significant success by UK artists overseas.

That again included Harry Styles and Glass Animals, with the two most popular tracks on audio streaming services in the US in 2022, while other notable British successes there included Adele, Coldplay, Kate Bush, and Sam Smith.

While music exports rose by a relatively modest 4% in Germany — the UK’s second-biggest market — there were double-digit percentage increases in France (15%), Australia (17%), Canada (30%), Netherlands (15%), Italy (18%), Spain (14%), and Brazil (47%). The most significant percentage growth occurred in India, with a 130% year-on-year increase in revenue, establishing it as one of the UK’s 20 biggest overseas markets for recorded music. Only China, among the UK’s Top 20 markets, was down on the year, dropping 2%.

“These record export numbers by UK labels represent an exceptional achievement in the face of unprecedented competition on the global music stage, both from long-established and rapidly expanding new music markets,” says Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and interim CEO.

“They put us on course to reach our goal of £1 billion in annual UK music exports by the end of the decade, but for this growth to continue, the UK needs to remain a supportive environment for investment in music, and policymakers should continue to work with industry to maximize the overseas potential of UK music.”

“It was, therefore, encouraging that we recently achieved additional investment of £3.2 million over the next two years for our successful Music Export Growth Scheme, which has already backed the international careers of hundreds of independent UK artists and can now support even more of them,” Jones continues. 

“MEGS has played an integral role in driving our export numbers with a high number of artists who have received funding now enjoying substantial and sustained streaming success in overseas markets. This, in turn, is delivering for the UK economy.”