Media release: British music exports reach £400 million millennium-high


* Overseas earnings by UK record labels up 12 per cent to £408.4m in 2017 – highest this century;

* Recorded music has now earned over £5 billion in exports for the UK economy since 2000;

* UK acts led by Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, Sam Smith and Dua Lipa engaged global audiences;

* Europe is driving growth as our largest market, but China shows the biggest national increase;

* ‘Music Export Growth Scheme’ and Trade Missions opening up international markets; and

* Music can play a role post-Brexit as UK’s ‘international calling card’, but EU departure also threatens impressive overseas music revenues if the right deals are not struck.

UK record labels association the BPI will announce that British music exports are now at their highest level since the turn of the millennium, when it holds its annual general meeting for members in London today.

BPI CEO, Geoff Taylor, will report that overseas revenues of £408.4 million earned by UK record labels in 2017 rose by 12 per cent on the previous year, taking the total generated since 2000 to over the £5 billion mark.

This is the highest figure recorded by the BPI since it began its annual survey of record label overseas income 18 years ago, when international revenues stood at £363.7 million. Taking into account payments made overseas, UK labels generated a net £200 million balance of payments surplus for the UK economy in 2017, up by more than a fifth (+23 per cent) on 2016.

This continuing growth, which follows an 11 per cent rise to £364 million in 2016, underlines the enduring popularity of British music, with UK artists accounting for one in every eight albums consumed globally in 2017 and the world’s best-selling artist album in nine of the past thirteen years, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s multi-Platinum Divide.

Backed by the relentless investment in A&R new artist development and the marketing expertise of innovative British record labels, it helps to explain why the UK keeps punching above its weight as the world’s largest exporter of recorded music after the US.

It also highlights that music potentially has a role to play as an important ‘calling card’ for the UK in a post-Brexit world in which we are looking to forge new international trading relationships. But Geoff Taylor will also warn that a bad Brexit deal could undermine future earnings. Customs hold ups, additional costs importing physical products, visa concerns for travelling artists, and logistical issues touring are just some of the problems that could affect otherwise optimistic long-term prospects.

Reflecting on the millennium-high figures, Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “British music is riding high once again around the world, boosted by the talent of our artists and songwriters and the innovation and investment of record labels.

“Our music not only enriches the lives of fans around the world, it makes a major contribution to the UK economy through overseas sales and by attracting numerous visitors to the UK. With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the UK as we forge new trading relationships, but only if our Government supports us by ensuring a strong Brexit deal that enables artists to tour freely, robustly protects music rights, and prevents physical music products being impeded in transit.”

Last year’s strong export figures were fuelled by phenomenal global demand for Ed Sheeran’s Divide, which sold 6.1 million copies worldwide (excluding streams), according to international music body the IFPI – contributing to Sheeran’s dominance as the Global Recording Artist of 2017 – ahead of Drake and Taylor Swift.

Other stand-out performances by British artists included Rag’n’Bone Man, whose debut Human remarkably was the fourth best-selling album in the world, ahead of Sam Smith’s The Thrill of it All at No.5 and Harry Styles’ self-titled solo release, which also made the global top-ten.

Revenue growth was most-marked across Europe – up 29 per cent over the past two years since 2015. Increases in major markets Germany (nine per cent), France (+57 per cent), Italy (+22 per cent) and Spain (+33 per cent) led the way, contributing to a European total of £165 million in 2017 and a 42 per cent share of the UK’s global music exports.

Europe as a whole remains the UK’s biggest export market for music, although the US is the biggest-single national market by a significant margin, accounting for over a third (35%) of the UK’s music earnings.

The biggest-single rise in exports growth since 2015 came in China (+432 per cent), admittedly from a lower base, with an encouraging five-fold increase in revenues. There were also notable results in Brazil (+57 per cent) and in India (+120 per cent) over this two year-period – underlining the growing importance of Asian and Latin American markets to British music.

Collaborative initiatives that see the UK Government working in partnership with the music industry have also helped to raise the international profile of British artists. The Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) – managed by the BPI and funded by the Department for International Trade (DIT) as part of the Export is GREAT campaign – has now distributed over £3 million to around 200 music exports projects since it made its very first awards to 15 artists in February 2014.

MEGS has to date delivered an £11 return on every £1 invested to help support mainly independently-signed artists develop their fan-bases and commercial opportunities overseas.

Government-backed international trade missions organised by the BPI with music partners such as the Association of Independent Music (AIM)5 and the Music Publishers Association (MPA) also play their part in promoting British music.

Recent missions include visits to growing markets including China and India, while the annual LA Sync mission and UK presence at MIDEM in France are key fixtures in the music industry calendar. The BPI is actively exploring trade missions to exciting new markets in Africa and South America that offer potential for future export growth.

Geoff Taylor’s keynote speech, which will be preceded by opening remarks from BPI chair, Ged Doherty, and elections to BPI Council, will be followed by a panel discussion on international growth opportunities. Chaired by media commentator, Ayesha Hazarika, panellists confirmed so far include John Thompson (Distiller Records), Mark Cullen (Sony Music Entertainment), Nick Dunn (Horus Music), Phil Patterson (DIT), and Victor Aroldoss (Warner Music UK).



Gennaro Castaldo (0)20 7803 1326 / +44 (0)7801 194 139

Darren Kruse +44 (0)20 7803 1300

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