The headline figures in this year’s Measuring Music report are undoubtedly excellent news. Virtually all sectors of our industry grew in 2016, particularly live music which soared by 14 per cent to make up £1 billion of the £4.4 billion the music business generated for the UK economy in 2016.
The number of new jobs created in the UK rose at a faster pace than the rest of the employment market and our export figures shot up across the board. The outlook for the music business is better than it has been in years. But behind the positive top line figures there are some clear challenges that could threaten our efforts to cement the foundations for continued growth.
Live music did have another great year as millions of people poured into festivals, stadiums and venues to see and hear their favourite acts. And live music is a fantastic driver for growth. But future talent will never get the chance to shine if we continue to see cuts in music in schools and closures in venues where artists need to learn their craft in the first place. To reach the big stage you need to have a hit record and you need to be able to pay the bills. That means that those who create music and invest in it must be properly rewarded.
That’s why we must urgently address the ‘value gap’, particularly on the new and exciting platforms that many people now use to listen to music. As Measuring Music shows, young people in particular are turning to YouTube and Facebook in increasing numbers for their music. However, unlike the subscription services, those platforms often offer little adequate reward to the investors and creators of the “content” – i.e. the music – that drives so much of their traffic.
In the Sixties we had ‘free love’; today some people think you can have ‘free music’. And there is still too often a culture of denial from the big tech rms. The platforms may be changing, as Measuring Music shows, but certain fundamental responsibilities must continue. It’s time for the free ride to come to an end.
We know that the music industry itself needs to continue to innovate, to adapt and to change. The music industry has shown that it can embrace new ideas and is collaborating with those outside the industry when it comes to digital innovations. Importantly, we are also pushing ahead with the UK Music apprenticeship scheme and our efforts to increase diversity in the industry through our Diversity Taskforce to make sure we better reflect our communities and respond to our customers.
And looking to the future, Brexit continues to cast a cloud of uncertainty for the music industry. We will continue to press the UK Government to get the best possible deal to protect our 142,208 jobs, to grow our exports and to remove any barriers to trade, especially for touring artists. We are a vital part of any industrial strategy. The foundations of our industry must not be negotiated away at this critical time.
Overall, Measuring Music shows once again that we have much to shout about in the UK about our music industry. So let’s do just that. But let’s also make sure we act now to protect that growth and nurture that success – so we can be even more successful in the decades ahead.