uk music report

UK Music publishes its This Is Music 2021 annual report

UK Music’s chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the report provided clear evidence of the need for swift Government action to help the music industry to continue rebuilding and return to growth post-pandemic.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 20 Oct 2021
  • min read

UK Music, the collective voice of the UK music industry, unveiled its This Is Music 2021 annual report. It reveals the devastating impact of COVID-19 which wiped out 69,000 jobs.

Launching the report, UK Music called on the Government to introduce tax incentives and other employment-boosting measures to help the sector rebuild after the pandemic. It also called for urgent action to resolve the problems facing musicians and crew touring the EU.

The measure are outlined in a new Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan, drawn up by UK Music and included in the new report. 

The key findings about the music industry contained in This Is Music 2021 include: 

  • Employment plunged by 35 percent from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020
  • Music industry’s economic contribution fell 46 percent from £5.8bn to £3.1bn in 2020
  • Music exports dropped 23 percent from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion in 2020

Glastonbury was among the hundreds of festivals and live music events cancelled after the first in a series of lockdowns was imposed in March 2020.

The impact was felt right across the industry as studios and venues were forced to close, and musicians and crew were unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many were not covered by Government support schemes.

The huge economic contribution that music made to the UK economy in 2019 almost halved as a result of the pandemic - falling by 46 percent from a record £5.8 billion (GVA) in 2019 to £3.1 billion in 2020. 

The pandemic triggered a wave of job losses across the UK music industry, which saw one in three jobs lost in the sector as the employment level fell by 35 percent from 2019’s all-time high of 197,000 to 128,000 in 2020. 

Exports suffered a 23 percent drop from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion last year, according to the flagship economic study, which UK Music has carried out since 2013 with its members. 

UK Music’s report measures the health of the music business by collating data about its contribution in goods and services to the economy. That economic contribution is known as Gross Value Added (GVA).

He outlined five key areas where swift action from the Government would help the industry create thousands of new jobs and provide a rewarding career for thousands of people.

UK Music is calling on the Government to implement: 

  • Tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs
  • Urgent action to remove the barriers to touring the EU
  • A permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets
  • More funding and support for music exports
  • Boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline

In addition to UK Music’s research, UK Music also commissioned Public First to survey the views of the general public on the music industry. The survey by Public First found: 

  • 75 percent of the public are proud of the UK music industry and its heritage 
  • 59 percent believe music improves the UK’s reputation overseas
  • 74 percent say music is important to their quality of life
  • UK listens to 60 billion hours of music a year - the equivalent of seven million years
  • 1 million people took up a music instrument during lockdown

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive, UK Music, said: ‘The past 18 months have been exceptionally challenging for the UK music industry, with billions wiped off the value of the sector – but we are determined to look to the future and focus on recovery.

‘Music matters to us all. And in a year when we’ve seen just how important music is to all our lives, it’s more important than ever that we take the necessary steps to protect, strengthen and grow the industry. 

‘In our Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan we identify the policy interventions required and set out a clear action plan to get the industry back up on its feet.

‘With the right support, the UK music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery. This Is Music sets out the positive role the music industry can play in our country’s future, and the steps that need to be taken to achieve that.

‘Music is a key national asset, part of our history and our heritage. More than that, it’s part of our future. And we can’t value it highly enough.’

Andrea Czapary Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, said: ‘This Is Music 2021 clearly highlights the devastating effect of COVID-19 across the UK music industry landscape. The songwriter, composer and publisher community has shown great strength and resilience during the last 20 months, even as many of their sources of income declined or ceased entirely. Indeed for many the income from their rights was their only source of income, reinforcing again the necessity of a strong copyright framework. Despite the obvious challenges of the pandemic on the foundations of our industry, the creativity and brilliance of our music creators remains one of our greatest national assets.’

Nigel Elderton, chair, PRS Members’ Council, said: ‘We welcome UK Music’s report and call on the Government to support our industry in its recovery, through financial incentives but also providing much needed certainty for our artists wishing to tour in the EU. As a global leader in the music industry we must continue to foster and support the creativity and innovation of our creator community, as they are drivers of our economic and cultural success. Let us never take this for granted.’