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Value of UK Music Industry Up To £4bn – But Still Down on Pre-Pandemic Levels

UK Music report This Is Music 2022 reveals the UK music industry’s contribution to the economy is going up, but there’s a long way to go to recovery.

Published: 23 September 2022 | 11:46 AM Updated: 23 September 2022 | 12:31 PM
Red lit photo of a woman singer on stage at a small venue, looking out to the crowd
“We remain very concerned about freelance musicians leaving music because they cannot afford to stay.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

Unveiling the This Is Music 2022 report, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the economic findings showed why the Government should act to support the music industry, which still faces a “major threat from strong economic headwinds”.

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl adds:

“Last year remained very difficult for the music industry as the impact of the Covid-19 crisis continued to hit the live sector in particular. We remain very concerned about freelance musicians leaving music because they cannot afford to stay, and this report shows a clear reduction in employment.

“As we emerge from Covid restrictions and face the full force of the cost of living crisis, we remain a struggling sector and our members need further Government support to survive. The Union is doing all it can to support members and lobby for additional help at this very difficult time.”

Thank you to all MU members who took the survey that helped create this report. Your input is crucial to support the union’s campaigns and lobbying work across the UK.

Key findings and what they mean

Key findings in This Is Music – based on data collated from across the music industry, including a survey of MU members earlier this year – include:

  • The UK music industry’s contribution to UK economy in 2021 was £4 billion. This is up 26% on the £3.1 billion figure for 2020, but still down 31% on the pre-Covid all-time high of £5.8 billion in 2019.
  • Employment in the music industry rose to 145,000 jobs in 2021. This is up 14% on the 128,000 jobs in 2020, but still down 26% on the pre-Covid record of 197,000 jobs in 2019.
  • Exports in the sector rose in 2021 to £2.5 billion. This up 10% on the £2.3 billion figure in 2020, but still down 15% on the £2.9 billion in 2019.

The data shows that in 2021 the sector is moving in the right direction, but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit are still severe.

Read the full report (pdf) for more in depth analysis from UK Music.

There’s still a long way to go

The data reflects findings from MU research with members during the first two phases of the pandemic in 2020, which found that 34% of musicians were considering abandoning their careers in music and 37% were not sure of their futures.

In the same period, 91% of musicians aged thirty and under told us they were “worried” or “very worried” about their futures in the industry.

Highlighting just how important support for musicians during the pandemic was, and the impact for those who fell through gaps in Government support schemes, This is Music says:

“Those who could access government schemes, such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), were well placed to return to work once live music resumed at the end of July [2021]… but those who fell through the cracks either retired, retrained, or sought alternative employment in other sectors.”

It's time to Fix Streaming

This Is Music also reports that digital revenues from streaming and downloads went up 12% to £872.8 million in 2021.

“I am working with other industry bodies – in particular our Fix Streaming partner The Ivors Academy, and Council of Music Maker member organisations – on a package of proposals to improve remuneration for performers and creators. Look out for more on this as things develop,” wrote MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl in the first of her new regular updates.

Ensuring fair royalties is also one of the issues the Musicians’ Union has written to the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about as work continues behind the scenes to secure Equitable Remuneration and royalties for non featured performers, as well as proper recognition of the value of the song.

It’s also one of the issues the MU will be raising at political party conferences in September 2022. Find out more, and invite your MP to talk to the union.

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