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Live music adds £4bn to UK economy

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Live music fans generated £4bn in direct and indirect spending at UK concerts and festivals in 2016, a new report finds.

According to UK Music’s latest Wish You Were Here study, this represents a rise of 11 percent on the £3.7bn they spent in 2015.

The total number of music tourists from the UK and abroad increased by 20 percent in 2016 to 12.5 million, of which 11.6 million were UK citizens visiting live music events in other parts of the UK.

Elsewhere, the report found that the numbers of overseas music visitors to live music events in the UK rose seven percent to 823,000, with each spending an average of £850.

This overall increase in music tourism provided a huge boost to employment throughout the country, with 47,445 full time jobs in 2016 sustained by music tourism in the UK – a 22 percent increase on the 2015 figure of 39,034.

Among the festivals that contributed to that success story in 2016 were Glastonbury, Latitude, Green Man in Wales’ Brecon Beacons and Lovebox in London.

Live music fans packed out venues ranging from The Leadmill in Sheffield, Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh and the Lexington in London to large arenas like Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and the O2 Arena in London.

However, the figures also revealed a 13 percent drop in the level of direct spending at smaller music venues – those with capacity of under 1,500 – in 2016. There was also a 21 percent fall in the number of overseas visitors to these smaller venues.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley MP said: ‘UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report clearly shows music and the creative industries are not only central to our cultural DNA but also hugely important for creating jobs and growth across the country.

‘It’s fantastic to see a record number of visitors to live events in the UK and the huge popularity of our artists overseas. Our musicians are cultural ambassadors for Britain and help us show the world that we are an optimistic and open country.’

Michael Dugher, UK Music chief executive, added: ‘A record 30.9 million people went to live music events in the UK last year and generated £4bn for the UK economy.

‘Music fans poured into a huge range of festivals like Glastonbury, Latitude in Suffolk, The Great Escape in Brighton and Green Man in the Brecon Beacons. They also enjoyed seeing the best British new talent in smaller venues which are a vital part of the live music industry.

‘We have seen the incredible power of music to heal when the country were united by the One Love Manchester benefit gig following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert.

‘Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing, as well as our economy. It showcases our talent to the world and brings pleasure to millions every day.

‘But this success is being put at risk. That’s why UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival. And, we will be pressing the government to make sure the impact of Brexit does not damage our export trade or make it harder for UK artists to tour abroad and for overseas acts to come here.’

Overall, since 2011, the live music industry in the UK has seen a 76 percent rise in music tourists travelling to enjoy music events in the UK.

Collating a vast amount of ticketing and other data from hundreds of venues, UK Music annually compiles this insight into live music in every region of the UK and its impact on the local economy. Access the full report.


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