Wednesday 18 November 2020 9:07 am

UK music industry value set to halve as pandemic derails growth

The value of the UK music industry is set to almost halve in size this year due to the “catastrophic blow” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures published today by industry body UK Music showed the sector contributed a bumper £5.8bn to the economy in 2019 — up 11 per cent on the previous year.

Employment in the industry and total export revenue also grew to new highs due to a booming live sector and success for British recording artists such as Storzmy, Dua Lipa and Lewis Capaldi.

But the report issued a stark warning about the “hammer blow” of Covid-19, which has brought the live music sector to a halt and crippled revenues for performers, venues and promoters, as well as writers and publishers.

UK Music said it expected up to 85 per cent of live music revenue to be lost this year, with the sector’s income close to zero since March. The report also predicted that 65 per cent of creators’ income will be lost, rising to 80 per cent for those most dependent on live performance and recording studio work.

While the sector employed almost 200,000 people in 2019 — an all-time high — the pandemic is expected to spark thousands of job losses.

Overall, the crisis is expected to wipe roughly £3bn off the music industry’s gross value added — the measure of how much it contributes to the economy.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, said the music industry was a “key national asset”. 

“It boosts Britain’s standing in the world, bringing a soft power that few other industries can boast.”

He added that the industry now faced a “marathon effort to get back on its feet” and called for additional support from the government.

The report showed the UK’s live music sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic, as the vast majority of concerts, gigs and festivals were forced to close.

The closure of shops, bars and nightclubs also deprived creators and record labels of vital live performance income.

UK Music said the sector’s contribution to the economy would be saved from total collapse thanks to the continued growth in streaming, as Brits spent more time on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. 

“We know what an immensely tough year 2020 has been for the music industry as a result of Covid-19 which has presented significant challenges for the sector,” said Caroline Dinenage, minister for digital and culture.

“That is why the government stepped in with an unprecedented £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to help the sector weather the impact of coronavirus and protect music venues, festivals, and our vital cultural assets.”