September 24, 2022

Britain’s multibillion-pound music industry remains almost a third smaller than it was before the pandemic, as rising inflation, rising costs and Brexit red tape threaten to derail its fragile recovery, a report has warned.

UK Music, the umbrella body representing the industry from artists and labels to live acts, is calling for a support package that includes tax breaks, VAT cuts for struggling venues and streamlining of restrictions affecting workers and touring between Europe and the UK.

The annual report by Music by Numbers, which covers topics including music sales and licensing, stadium tours, gigs and merchandise, showed the industry’s contribution to the UK economy grew by 26% year-on-year to £4bn in 2021. year. , this is still 31% down on 2019’s record £5.8 billion.

While music streaming has boomed and CD and vinyl sales have soared amid the pandemic, the live music industry, which employs tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers and venue owners, has been hit hard and continues to face “fragile and precarious” recovery.

Major events including Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park were canceled last year, while music venues could only be open for four months, limiting the return of workers and artists.

In 2020, more than a third of UK music industry workers, a total of 69,000, lost their jobs. Their number increased by 14% to 145,000 last year, but it is still 26% less than the 197,000 employees in 2019.

“Our workforce is demoralized and decimated,” said Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music. “The fact that tens of thousands of them still haven’t returned should worry policymakers and the public. Our sector continues to face the serious threat of an economic storm that could derail our fragile recovery without urgent government support.”

UK Music is calling for support including extending the hugely successful tax relief schemes enjoyed by the film, TV and games industries, reducing VAT to 5% to help struggling venues and scrapping the red tape that makes it harder to bring in workers from Europe and significantly more expensive to tour in EU.

The recovery has been hampered by rising costs for venues and musicians, which by some estimates are up 35% from 2019, including road staff, catering, security, transport and more recently fuel and energy costs.

“The industry is being hit by rising costs across the supply chain, and unless venues, studios and other music businesses get the help they need, there is a serious risk they could be forced to close their doors for good,” says UK Music.

UK music exports, which include record sales and streams, live performances by UK artists and merchandise sales, rose 10% to £2.5 billion. However, this is still well below the £2.9 billion in 2019 before the pandemic.

The UK is the world’s second biggest exporter of recorded music after the US, with Adele, Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa releasing three of the six best-selling albums of 2021.

“The UK music industry is working hard to recover from the catastrophic impact of Covid, but there is still some way to go to restore the jobs and growth lost during the pandemic,” said Njoku-Goodwin.

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