Music by Numbers, the annual report of the industry lead body UK Music reported that the value for Britain’s live music sector in 2018 was GB£ 1.1 billion. Exports of British music (sales and tickets for UK arts overseas) were worth GB£ 2.7 billion. If money spent by music tourists on food and accommodation in the UK is included, the overall contribution to the UK economy was GB£ 5.2 billion in 2018. UK Music said that 139,352 people were employed in 2018 as musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and engineers. However, income in 2018 from the music profession for many averaged GB£ 23,059 according to the Office for National Statistics, which was considerably below the national average salary.
The Musicians Union reported that 44% of orchestral musicians in the UK say they no longer earn enough to live on and the Union warned that talented performers are increasingly being forced to abandon their careers. Music training is expensive with young musicians typically spending around GB£ 80,000 including tuition fees and student loans, but after qualifying those focussing on a classical music career may only earn around GB£ 21,000 p.a. Furthermore, 43% of musicians who have been in the profession for five years or less have taken unpaid work to gain experience. Research conducted in 2017 by universities in Newcastle, Edinburgh and Turku (Finland) into live music generally in the UK, its economic contribution, ticket reselling and audiences also confirmed large numbers of musicians were finding it difficult to earn sufficient income to make their careers financially viable.
A major concern for the live music sector has been the loss of many grassroots music venues in recent years. The number of such venues fell by 34% between 2007-2016. Key factors in this were the revaluation of business rates of venues in 2017 resulting in major increases in some cases, but also because of noise disturbance in the immediate vicinity leading to closures. A Music Venues Taskforce was established by the Mayor of London to look at the impact of these closures on London’s culture and economy. This resulted in a rescue plan recommending how to address current problems. In addition, Arts Council England agreed to provide GB£ 1.5 million from its National Lottery Project Grants to help venues survive. It will work with the Music Venue Trust to assist venues to access the funds. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee drew attention to the closure of venues in a report into live music. The report urges the music industry to invest in young talent calling on ACE, or a new body supported by the industry, to develop a scheme to encourage music talent and fund the improvement of facilities.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music has been established to inform fellow Members of Parliament about developments in the music industry, as well as engage them in discussion on measures that impact on the music sector.
The focus for music in ACE’s Corporate priorities 2018-20 is on music education and talent development. ACE indicated it will work with the classical music and opera sectors, Music Education Hubs, conservatoires and employers to develop a joint action plan to strengthen the diversity of talent pathways. The Council will also work with Music Education Hubs, national music organisations, Youth Music, its National Portfolio Organisations and Bridge Organisations (i.e. intermediaries between the Hubs and schools) to develop a more joined up approach for music education, as well as utilising recent evidence and studies to develop ambitious plans for music education (see also chapter 5.2).
The Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee of the Welsh Assembly launched an inquiry into issues facing the music industry in Wales, including the impact of government policy on the industry, the availability of venues for live music, opportunities for talent development and the impact of digital technologies on the profitability or recorded music. In 2018 the Committee published its findings after conducting another inquiry into funding for and access to music education (Hitting the Right Note). Among its recommendations is that the Welsh Government should transfer responsibility for the delivery of services to an arm’s length national body with a clear regional delivery mechanism and that the Cabinet Secretary for Education should prepare a National Action Plan for Music. It also suggests the Government should establish a permanent advisory group to advise and inform them on all music education matters.