The multi-billion-pound UK music industry is still almost a third smaller than it was before the pandemic, as rampant inflation, soaring costs and Brexit red tape threaten to derail its fragile recovery, a report has warned.
Music UK, the umbrella body representing industries from artists and labels to live performances, has called for a package of support including tax cuts, VAT cuts for struggling venues and simplifications affecting workers and touring between Europe and the UK limit.
The organisation’s annual Music by Numbers report, which covers topics such as music sales and licensing, stadium visits, grassroots venue performances and merchandise, found that the industry’s contribution to the UK economy has grown by 26% year-on-year to £4bn in 2021. However, this is down 31% from a record £5.8bn in 2019.
Despite a boom in music streaming and a surge in CD and vinyl sales amid the pandemic, the live music industry, which employs tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers and venue owners, has been hit hard and Continue to face a “fragile and unstable” recovery.
Major events including Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park were cancelled last year, while music venues were only open for four months, limiting the return of workers and artists.
More than a third of UK music industry workers (69,000 in total) lost their jobs in 2020. Their numbers rose 14% to 145,000 last year, but that’s still 26% less than 2019’s 197,000.
“Our staff morale is low and numbers are plummeting,” UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said. “The fact that tens of thousands of people have yet to return should worry policymakers and the public. Our industry remains under serious threat of an economic storm, which could derail our fragile recovery without emergency government support. track.”
UK Music is calling for support, including extending the highly successful tax relief scheme enjoyed by the film, TV and games industries, cutting VAT to 5% to help struggling venues, and removing red tape that makes it difficult to bring in workers from Europe EU tours are much more expensive.
Soaring costs for venues and musicians are hitting the recovery, with some estimates rising as much as 35% compared to 2019, including costs for road workers, catering, security, transportation and, most recently, fuel and energy.
“Costs across the supply chain have been soaring, hitting the industry, and unless venues, studios and other music businesses get the help they need, they may be forced to close their doors permanently,” said UK Music.
UK music exports, including record sales and streaming, live performances by UK artists and merchandise sales, rose 10% to £2.5bn. However, this is still well below the pre-pandemic level of £2.9bn in 2019.
The UK is the world’s second-largest exporter of recorded music after the US, with Adele, Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa releasing three of the six best-selling albums of 2021.
Njoku-Goodwin said: “The UK music industry is struggling to recover after the catastrophic impact of Covid, but there is still some way to go to recover the jobs and growth lost during the pandemic.”