UK Music published its inaugural Music By Numbers report last week. It reveals that the music industry contributed £5.2 billion (AUD$9.8 Billion) to the UK economy last year. The report is of Australian interest for several reasons:
- Firstly, the industry is growing which is positive for investment in music: The report shows that in a leading and influential market, the music industry is growing across every sector. Live music contributed £1.1 billion (AUD$2 billion), up 10%. The recorded music sector contributed £568 million (AUD$1.074 billion), which is a rise of 5%, and £478 million (AUD$904 million) in exports. Music tourism rose 12%. Employment in the UK industry is approaching 200,000. While the figures are impressive, artist income is highly skewed so that a small number do very well but most have incomes significantly below the national average;
- Secondly, music education in schools has dropped sharply: The report notes a significant decline of music in schools, with people studying A-level music declining by an alarming 30%. Only 15% of children in state schools receive sustained music tuition. Music Australia will be meeting with UK Music in London next year, and we hope to compare notes on initiatives being introduced to turn this around;
- Thirdly, by expanding its definition, it serves as a better example for any Australian study: The Australian industry has discussed commissioning a similar economic study, and using the UK Music study as a model. Robust data can help influence policy makers to support the industry in a variety of ways. One of the limitations of the UK Music study has traditionally been its quite narrow definition compared to other studies. For example, the 50 States of Music website promoting the US Music Industry values the music industry contribution to state GDP at USD$143 billion (AUD$210 billion – source: Stephen Siwek/Economists Inc.) Working with a narrow definition both understates the economic contribution versus other industries, and created disparities with studies that adopt a wider definition. But in a welcome move UK Music have significantly altered their methodology, expanding their traditional economic definition to include additional professionals who assist artists such as producers, sound engineers, lawyers, accountants, and recording studios. Instrument sales and music retailers are also included for the first time. It will be interesting to see whether in future it is widened further to include music media (eg music magazines, music TV shows, radio), and the whole music education sector.