The value of British recorded music exports grew by almost 14% last year, bringing in around £590.8 million – the highest annual figure since records began.
That’s according to new figures released today from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the trade body for independent and major labels, who’ve been surveying overseas income from record labels since 2000.
In total, over 400 UK artists achieved over 100 million streams – from well-established artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran, to newer artists such as PinkPantheress and Glass Animals, who received their first Grammy nod this year. This compares to around 300 artists achieving the same feat the year before.
What’s more, consumption of UK music increased in every region globally, such as in Europe (by 17.6% from the previous year), North America (up 11%) and Asia (up 11.1%).
In specific countries, China reported the highest year-on-year increase, up a remarkable 61.2% from 2020; whilst, less surprisingly, USA topped the chart for the total amount of overseas earnings, bringing £228.7 million into the coffers for British music.
As well as those reaching more than 100 million streams, more than 600 UK artists achieved at least 50 million streams, while over 1,500 surpassed 10 million.
The figures are more-or-less in-line with recent projections from the Goldman Sachs ‘Music In The Air’ report, released earlier this year, which predicted that worldwide recorded music revenues will more than double by 2030 – rising from £21.6 billion ($25.9 billion) in 2021 to £44.4 billion ($53.2 billion) in that period.
Curiously, too, the data also picked up on a group of artists – including Ella Mai, Liverpool-born Banners and Bishop Briggs – whose recordings were streamed more than 250 million times globally last year, but who’ve never achieved a UK Top 10 album or Top 40 hit on the UK’s Official Singles Chart.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “These record-breaking figures once again highlight the extraordinary popularity of British music internationally. This is not just about our much-loved superstars, but new artists and bands from all over the UK who, with their label’s investment and expertise, are able to successfully navigate the competitive streaming landscape.
“Recent market estimates suggest the global recorded music industry could double in size by 2030, meaning there’s ample opportunity for more artists to achieve international success and for music to deliver for UK PLC. But continued success isn’t guaranteed, as competition increases from international markets, making it harder to cut through and putting pressure on our global market share.
“The Music Exports Growth Scheme provides vital funding to help independent labels and artists expand their businesses overseas, and with sustained support from Government, British music will continue to thrive all around the world.”
Taylor’s mentioning of the Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS) is not without good reason. In fact, more than 60 UK artists whose music was streamed at least 20 million times around the world last year had received funding through the scheme.
MEGS supports independent Small and Medium-Sized enterprises (SME) music companies and is administered by the BPI. Bicep, beabadoobee, and Wolf Alice are among those who’ve been aided by the initiative, each of whom have amassed over 100 million streams.
All of this is certainly welcome news for the music industry, although it is of course largely focussed on streaming achievements. Taylor’s closing remarks over the need for “sustained support from Government” – whoever that ends up being – comes after a report released this week from a group of more than 100 cross-party MPs called for a “touring tsar” to help acts deal with post-Brext touring issues.
The (rather cringeworthily) titled Let the Music Move report outlined that “UK music workers are facing more costs, more complications and getting fewer opportunities after leaving the EU” and as such, a new “touring tsar to steer the government’s response to the crisis” was needed. Who knows, maybe that’ll be Boris Johnson’s parting gift – it’s unlikely.