It should come as no surprise that the combined effects of Covid and the pandemic lockdown had a disastrous effect on the UK music industry. With venues closed and festivals put on ice, the entire industry was put under pressure despite the growing demand for pre-recorded music. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as the industry seems to be making a strong post-pandemic comeback. With increasing numbers of musicians working in the UK, strong festival visitor numbers, and music export growth, this could very well be the year when the UK’s music industry surpasses 2019’s record numbers.
Let’s take a look at some of the key music industry statistics from the last couple of years to get a clearer picture.
UK musician statistics
- Between Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, the number of musicians working in the UK increased from 41,200 to 43,600. This is an increase of 2400 musicians, or 5.8%.1.1
- Over a one-year period, the number of UK musicians grew from 38,700 in Q1 2022 to 43,600 in Q1 2023. This 12.7% increase represents an additional 4,900 musicians.1.1
- The top UK artists have, on average, 80% of their overall views generated abroad.1.2
- The top 5 most popular UK artists in 2022 were:1.2
- 1. Ed Sheeran
- 2. Harry Styles
- 3. D-Block Europe
- 4. Arctic Monkeys
- 5. Dave
- Three of the top six best-selling albums worldwide in 2021 were produced locally. These were Adele’s ‘30’ (#1), Ed Sheeran’s ‘=’ (#4), and Dua Lipe’s ‘Future Nostalgia’ (#6).1.3
- Only 3% of working UK musicians earn more than £70,000, of which 80% are male.1.4
- Just under half of working UK musicians have an annual salary of less than £14,000.1.4
1.1 Clark, D. ‘Estimated number of musicians in the United Kingdom from 4th quarter 2021 to 1st quarter 2023.’ Statista, 2023
1.2 BPI. ‘BPI Streaming Report 2023.’ British Phonographic Industry, 2023
1.3 UK Music. ‘This is Music 2022.’ UK Music, 2022
1.4 Beaumont, B. ‘Nearly half of working UK musicians earn less than £14000, new census finds.’ The Guardian, 2023
UK music streaming statistics
- Over the last five years, the UK music streaming industry has more than doubled, with 2022 reaching a new peak of 159.3 billion audio streams.2.1
- 86.1% of all recorded music consumed in the UK in 2022 was streamed. In 2016, this number was less than half, at 36.4%.2.1
- Harry Styles’ As It Was was the most streamed track in the UK in 2022, with 180.9 million audio and video streams. It was followed by Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits and then Cat Burns’ Go.2.1
- On average, the UK generated more than 3 billion audio streams per week in 2022.2.1
- In 2022, more than 5,000 tracks were streamed more than 5 million times in the UK.2.1
- More than 2,000 artists managed to reach 10 million audio streams in the UK alone in 2022.2.1
- Only 12 artists managed to surpass half a billion audio streams in the UK in 2022, although more than 200 managed to edge by 100 million streams. The latter figure was an increase of about 19% compared to the previous year.2.1
2.1 BPI. ‘BPI Streaming Report 2023.’ British Phonographic Industry, 2023
UK broadcast radio statistics
- Just under 50 million adults, or 89% of the population, listened to live radio on average 20.3 hours per week in 2021.3.1
- The BBC’s share of listening time dropped by 1%, from 50.9% to 49.9% between Q3 2021 and Q1 2022, while commercial radio increased its share from 47.1% to 48% in the same period.3.1
- While AM/FM listening increased from 34.2% to 35.6% between 2021 and 2022, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) takes the lion’s share of all radio listening at about 64.4%.3.1
- 21% of people with with a smart speaker claim to listen to radio on it every day.3.1
- A number of digital stations saw strong growth between 2021 and 2012. These include:3.1
- Capital DANCE (106%)
- Absolute Radio 70s (36%)
- talkRADIO (20%)
- Smooth Radio Chill (19%)
- The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music, with 2.6 million listeners.3.1
3.1 Radio Today UK. ‘UK radio listening remains static at 89% of the population.’ Radio Today UK, 2022
UK live music performance statistics
- The pandemic had a catastrophic effect on the UK live performance industry. March 2020 saw a 90% decline in live performances compared to the previous year.4.1
- In 2022, the Music Managers Forum (MMF) reported a 35% increase in artists’ fees compared to pre-pandemic times. This is largely due to increased costs such as inflation, rising energy costs, and ongoing supply chain issues.4.1
- A total of 14.4 million music tourists attended live music events in the UK in 2022, with roughly 1.1 million of these being foreign music tourists.4.2
- Concerts, including arena shows, grassroots gigs, and all other live performances, attracted a total of 30.6 million people in 2022.4.2
4.1 UK Music. ‘This is Music 2022.’ UK Music, 2022
4.2 UK Music. ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ UK Music, 2023
UK music industry economic impact statistics
- Pre-pandemic, the UK music industry contributed an estimated £5.8 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the economy.5.1
- By 2020, this number had decreased to roughly £3.17 billion, a drop of just more than 45%.5.1
- 2021 saw the UK music industry’s GVA increase to £4 billion, an increase of 26% over the previous year but still down 31% compared to pre-pandemic levels.5.1
- Employment in the music industry reached 145,000 in 2021, down 26.4% from a 2019 peak of 197,000.5.1
- UK music exports in 2021 increased to £2.5 billion from 2020’s £2.3 billion but is still down from 2019’s £2.9 billion.5.1
- Music tourism spending in 2022 totaled £6.6 billion, creating roughly 56,000 jobs in the process.5.2
5.1 UK Music. ‘This is Music 2022.’ UK Music, 2022
5.2 UK Music. ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ UK Music, 2023
Beaumont, Ben. “Nearly half of working UK musicians earn less than £14000, new census finds.” The Guardian, The Guardian, 11 September 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2023/sep/11/nearly-half-of-working-uk-musicians-earn-less-than-14000-new-census-finds. Accessed 25 October 2023.
British Phonographic Industry (BPI). “The New Music Democracy.” BPI, British Phonographic Industry (BPI), 5 April 2023, https://www.bpi.co.uk/media/3742/bpi-streaming-report-2023.pdf. Accessed 25 October 2023.
Clark, D. “UK number of musicians 2023.” Statista, Statista, 22 August 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/319278/number-of-musicians-in-the-uk/. Accessed 25 October 2023.
Radio Today UK. “UK radio listening remains static at 89% of the population.” Radio Today, Radio Today UK, 2 February 2022, https://radiotoday.co.uk/2022/02/uk-radio-listening-remains-static-at-89-of-the-population/. Accessed 25 October 2023.
UK Music. “Here, There and Everywhere 2023.” UK Music, UK Music, 2023, https://www.ukmusic.org/research-reports/here-there-and-everywhere/. Accessed 25 October 2023.
UK Music. “This is Music 2022 Report.” This is Music 2022 Report, UK Music, 9 March 2019, https://exxfmt5ydc6.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/This-Is-Music-2022.pdf. Accessed 25 October 2023.