British recorded music exports grew by a record amount in 2022, as the success of UK artists on streaming services helped to take the annual total above £700 million for the first time.
According to new figures released by the BPI, the value of UK music sales and streams overseas increased by 20% last year to £709 million – a jump of more than £100 million in a single year.
Representing the highest annual exports level since 2000, when the BPI began its yearly survey of label overseas income, the record figure came in a year when UK artists were behind some of the biggest tracks streamed on services around the world.
As It Was by Harry Styles was the most streamed track globally of 2022, according to data from Luminate, with Heat Waves by Glass Animals at No.2. They were joined in the year’s Top 10 by Elton John & Dua Lipa with Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) and Ed Sheeran with Shivers.
Music Week launched the International Marketing category at the Music Week Awards in recognition of the export achievements of labels.
More than 400 British artists in total each accumulated over 100 million audio streams of their music worldwide in 2022. This included nearly two dozen who have been granted funding through the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS). The government recently announced, as part of its Creative Industries Sector Vision, that funding for the scheme is to be tripled on its current rate by a total of £3.2 million over the next two years.
There was a double-digit percentage increase in physical and digital download sales, streams and other consumption of British music in every region globally last year. This was led by emerging music markets, including the Middle East (+59%), Africa (+48%) and Latin America (+38%), where streaming user bases grew significantly in volume.
UK music consumption also increased in more established markets, rising in North America (+28%), Europe (+11%), Asia (+17%) and Oceania (+16%).
All but one of the UK’s 20 leading territories for recorded music experienced growth, including its biggest market of the US where revenue improved by 28% year-on-year. Although this growth was partially enhanced by the strong value of the US dollar against the pound, a situation mirrored elsewhere with other foreign currencies against sterling, it also reflected significant success by UK artists across the pond. This again included Harry Styles and Glass Animals, who had the two most popular tracks on audio streaming services in the US in 2022, while other notable British successes there included Adele, Coldplay, Kate Bush and Sam Smith.
While music exports rose by a more modest 4% in Germany, the UK’s second biggest market, there were double-digit percentage increases in France (+15%), Australia (+17%), Canada (+30%), the Netherlands (+15%), Italy (+18%), Spain (14%) and Brazil (47%). The biggest percentage growth was in India with a 130% year-on-year increase in revenue, establishing it as one of the UK’s 20 biggest overseas markets for recorded music. Only China among the UK’s Top 20 markets was down on the year, dropping 2%.
Overall, the leap in overseas revenue puts the UK on track to deliver the BPI’s stated aim of reaching £1 billion each year by the end of this decade for annual recorded music exports, with yearly revenues having grown by more than 70% in just five years.
Sophie Jones, BPI chief strategy officer and interim chief executive, said: “These record export numbers by UK labels represent an exceptional achievement in the face of unprecedented competition on the global music stage, both from long-established and rapidly-expanding new music markets. They put us on course to reach our goal of £1 billion in annual UK music exports by the end of the decade, but for this growth to continue the UK needs to remain a supportive environment for investment in music, and policy makers should continue to work with industry to maximise the overseas potential of UK music.
“It was therefore encouraging that we recently achieved additional investment of £3.2m over the next two years for our successful Music Export Growth Scheme, which has already backed the international careers of hundreds of independent UK artists and can now support even more of them. MEGS has played an integral role in driving our export numbers with a high number of artists who have received funding now enjoying substantial and sustained streaming success in overseas markets. This, in turn, is delivering for the UK economy.”
UK artists have in recent years been estimated to have accounted for around one in 10 streams around the world.
As well as major repertoire markets like the US, the UK now has to compete with fast-growing markets including those in Latin America and countries like South Korea, whose artists receive significant government backing.