From the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Elton John, Pink Floyd and, more recently, Adele, Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran, UK music acts have consistently attracted a global following.
The UK has also originated whole music genres from punk to dubstep and grime and continues to innovate with new ways of distributing and marketing music. This is not just a reflection of the quality and range of the musical talent that the UK spawns, but also the managerial instincts and skills of those who find them, nurture them and sell them to the world. UK music exports were worth £2.7bn in 2018. (Source: Music By Numbers, UK Music, 2019) and two of the top 10 biggest selling albums in 2018 were from UK acts (Ed Sheeran's '+' and Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody').
Glastonbury, Reading, the Isle of Wight...the UK's festival circuit has an international reputation that draws in foreign performers and musically-driven tourists, as well as domestic audiences. Outside the festival scene, the UK also has a well-established, geographically-distributed live network. Live music contributed an estimated £1.1bn of revenues to the industry in 2018. There were an estimated 11.2m music tourists to the UK in 2018, and music tourists collectively spent £4.5bn, with an estimated 45,530 jobs sustained by music tourism (Music By Numbers, UK Music, 2019). Overseas visitors to UK shows and festivals grew by 20 per cent from 810,000 to 888,000 in 2018.
In 2017 it was estimated that five of the most successful global tours were by UK acts and the O2 in London is believed to be the world's most popular live music arena.
UK Music estimates there are approximately 190,935 employed in music occupations in 2018. There are an estimated 8,000 music businesses in the UK (Source: Creative Blueprint.) These span music recording, distribution, marketing, post-production and other associated areas.
More than half of all music industry employees surveyed were under 44, and working in small organisations. Of these, 44 per cent were categorised as self-employed. Research by UK Music’s diversity taskforce in 2016 found the music industry workforce was 15.6 per cent BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) and 45.3 per cent were women. The music industry is also geographically diverse: many of the UK's top music venues are outside London with Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol all home to local music scenes.
As physical music sales have struggled − in the UK as in every other country − the music sector has diversified its revenue streams through an efficient, well-supported licensing regime and an inventive approach to commercialising music. Growth areas include brand partnerships and digital platforms.
The UK is at the forefront of the digital music revolution.Consumers can now choose between more than 70 services, using downloading, streaming and/or cloud-based platforms over a variety of devices.
In 2012, digital music sales overtook physical CD sales in value in the UK and an official UK download chart was launched during the year. More recently, streaming has been in the ascendant, with an estimated 65 per cent increase in the retail value of the streaming market to £418.5m in 2016. (Source: Measuring Music 2017, UK Music). Technology is also redefining how labels and artists find and foster audiences for new and existing acts. Social media, mobile and other channels are being used in ever more innovative ways to build excitement for new releases. (Source: BPI)