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Updated: Jul 22, 2023

UK Music’s recent report ‘This Is Music’ makes for interesting reading. Some key takeaways are the extent of the crash in live income due to the Covid pandemic. At one low point between early 2020 and the end of restrictions in March 2022, live agent Matt Bates at Primary Talent said his income was at 2% of previous levels! Another result of the turmoil was the loss of one third of the music workforce in the UK, mainly independent musicians, and tens of thousands have not returned, having moved on, undertaken alternative professional training etc, and many are unlikely to return to the industry. East City Management’s Stephen Taverner observed: ‘Having owned and run an artist management company for over 30 years now, you think you have seen and dealt with everything that the business could ever throw at you, but the pandemic was next level.’ And as pandemic issues subside (with confidence being slowly restored), these have been followed by the knock-on effects of Brexit, with a huge increase in red tape for those working in Europe, traditionally the UK’s principal export market for live music talent. As Sir Elton John has said, it leaves UK-based music workers at risk of being “stranded in Dover”.

The headline story is that the music industry contribution to the UK economy in terms of GVA (Gross Value Added), is in the process of gradually returning to the pre-pandemic level, which was £5.8BN in 2019. The UK recorded sector is growing, but our competitors are growing faster. For example, while export revenue from recorded music grew in 2021, there is pressure on the UK’s share of the global market, which stands at around 12% now, compared to a high of 17% in 2015. So there’s a long way to go still, and UK Music have a number of proposals for government help, including measures to protect and promote music made in the UK at home and abroad, the creation of Fiscal Incentives to encourage new UK music production on a similar basis to that which applies to movies, support for live music spaces throughout the UK, and help in building UK music careers and skills. One attraction for government in building home grown musical product, is what UK Music call the ‘soft power’ of music on a global scale to promote the country.

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