Britain’s multi-billion pound music industry remains nearly a third smaller than it was before the pandemic as rampant inflation, rising costs and Brexit bureaucracy threaten to derail its fragile recovery, warns a report.
UK Music, the umbrella body representing the industry, from artists and record labels to live performances, is calling for a support package that includes tax breaks, a reduction in VAT for venues in distress and a streamlining of the restrictions that interest workers and tours between Europe and the UK.
The organization’s annual Music by Numbers report, which spans topics including music sales and licensing, stadium tours, base venue concerts and merchandising, found that the sector’s contribution to the UK economy increased by 26. % year-on-year to £ 4 billion in 2021. However, this remains 31% lower than the record of £ 5.8 billion in 2019.
As music streaming has exploded and CD and vinyl sales have increased in pandemic conditions, the live music industry, which employs tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers and venue owners, has been hit hard and continues. to face a “fragile and precarious” recovery.
Major events, including Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park, were canceled last year, while the music venues were only able to 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 number increased by 14% to 145,000 last year, however this remains 26% less than the 197,000 employed in 2019.
“Our workforce has been demoralized and decimated,” said Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music. “The fact that tens of thousands of them haven’t returned yet should worry politicians and the public alike. Our sector still faces a serious threat due to the economic storm that could lead our fragile recovery off course without urgent government support ”.
UK Music calls for support, including an extension of the hugely successful tax relief programs enjoyed by the film, TV and games industries, a 5% VAT reduction to help locals in need and the elimination of red tape which makes it difficult for workers to enter from Europe and significantly more expensive for artists touring the EU.
The recovery was hammered by rising costs for clubs and musicians, some estimates up 35% from 2019, including road staff, catering, security, transportation and, more recently, fuel and energy costs.
“The industry has been hit with dizzying costs all along the supply chain and unless clubs, studios and other music companies get the help they need, there is a serious risk that they may be forced to close. definitely out of doors, “says UK Music.
British music exports, which include record and streaming sales, live performances by British artists and merchandise sales, grew 10% to £ 2.5bn. However, this is still well below £ 2.9 billion in pre-pandemic 2019.
The UK is the second largest exporter of recorded music in the world after the US, with Adele, Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa releasing three of the top 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 a long way to go to restore the jobs and growth lost during the pandemic,” said Njoku-Goodwin. .