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UK Music report predicts Covid could cut the music industry in half

The music industry’s umbrella body, UK Music, has published its annual ‘Music By Numbers 2020’ report and it makes sombre reading

The music industry’s umbrella body, UK Music, has published its annual ‘Music By Numbers 2020’ report and it makes sombre reading.

Although the report focusses on a highly successful year for British music in 2019, it is overshadowed by what it calls the ‘catastrophic’ effects of Covid-19.

In 2019 the music industry contributed £5.9 billion to the UK economy, attracted £2.9 billion in export income and sustained almost 200,000 jobs. These figures showed a vibrant and growing industry, one that expanded by 11% in one year alone. Few other industries could claim that and fewer still could account for the level of well-being it brought to British people and the soft power it gave the UK overseas.

A year later, the report predicts that £3 billion will be wiped off its Growth Value Added (GVA), with 85% slashed from live music income, above 65% off music creators’ income and tens of thousands of potential job losses.

As UK Music’s new Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says in his introduction, ‘‘Music By Numbers’ shows how vibrant, fast-growing and commercially successful our industry was before the pandemic. Our task now is to ensure it can be again.’

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin chief executive of UK Music
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music

He highlights the less statistical value of music that has been exposed by its absence during the pandemic.

‘We’ve also seen how vital music is to our wider society.

‘The lockdowns threw into threw into sharp focus the health benefits of music-making as activities like singing on a choir, playing in an orchestra or band were paused. ‘

The cancellation of gigs and festivals laid bare how reliant local economies are on music venues, which bring trade to businesses from taxi firms to take-away stands.’

Unsurprisingly, the introduction by Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture, makes no mention of the third of freelance music professionals exempted from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. She instead points to the £1.57 billion in grants given to arts and culture establishments.

But the report itself pulls few punches on where government should be targeting support, and contains many strong proposals to boost music incomes, improve music education and reduce bureaucracy.

It presses the government to take action on the severe problems Brexit is set to cause touring musicians and their support teams, on copyright protection, on international trade support and tax incentives, and on reversing the trend away from music education take-up.

It urges the government to follow through on its proposals to create a new National Plan for Music Education when the current one expires this year. It proposes further devolution of powers to develop talent through local authorities, as in Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. And it pushes for more investment in musical micro-businesses and freelance support.

‘Our music industry is a key national asset,’ says Njoku-Goodwin. ‘Beyond the economic impact, it creates vast social, educational and mental health benefits. It boosts Britain’s standing in the world, bringing soft power that few other industries can boast.’

You can read the full report here: or view below.

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