'British music is riding high': BPI reveals exports pass £400 million

'British music is riding high': BPI reveals exports pass £400 million

The BPI has announced that British music exports have reached £408.4 million - the highest figure since records began. The trade body has unveiled the results ahead of its AGM today (September 6). 

Overseas revenues for 2017 increased by 12% year-on-year. It follows a similar 11% rise to £364m in 2016. The total amount generated since 2000 is more than £5 billion.

The £408.4m figure is the highest since the BPI began its annual survey of record label overseas income 18 years ago, when international revenues stood at £363.7m. Taking into account payments made overseas, UK labels generated a net £200m balance of payments surplus for the UK economy in 2017, up by 23% on 2016. 

UK artists accounted for one in every eight albums consumed globally in 2017. British acts had the world’s best-selling artist album in nine of the past 13 years, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s Divide. 

The BPI suggested that British music has a role to play as an important “calling card” for the UK in a post-Brexit world as trade deals are negotiated. In his AGM speech, BPI and BRIT Awards CEO 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 among the potential problems that could affect growth. Beggars Group recently issued its own warning on the potential impact of Brexit.

Taylor 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.” 

With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the UK as we forge new trading relationships

Geoff Taylor

Revenue growth was most marked across Europe – up 29% over the past two years. Increases in major markets Germany (9%), France (57%), Italy (22%) and Spain (33%) led the way, contributing to a European total of £165 million in 2017 and a 42% share of the UK’s global music exports. The US is the biggest single national market, accounting for over a third (35%) of the UK’s music earnings.

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 the IFPI. Sheeran finished ahead of Drake and Taylor Swift. Other stand-out performances by British artists included albums by Rag’n’Bone Man, Sam Smith and Harry Styles.

The biggest single rise in exports growth since 2015 came in China (up 432%), though it was from a lower base. There were also strong results in Brazil (up 57%) and in India (120%) over this two-year-period.

The BPI has partnered with the Department For International Trade on the Music Export Growth Scheme to back emerging talent. 

Trade missions organised with AIM are also a key part of the BPI’s work to promote the UK industry overseas. The BPI is actively exploring trade missions to Africa and South America that offer potential for future export growth.

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