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UK live biz booming: audiences surge 12% to 30.9 million in 2016 and 76% since 2011

The number of people attending live music events in the UK last year soared by a whopping 12% on 2015 to 30.9 million, up from 27.7m, according to a new report by British music industry trade body UK Music.

The organisation’s Wish You Were Here music tourism report highlighted the significant contribution the sector makes to the UK economy, revealing that live music fans generated £4 billion in direct and indirect spending in 2016 by attending concerts and festivals across the country – a rise of 11% on the £3.7b they spent in 2015.

The total number of music tourists from the UK and abroad increased by 20% in 2016 to 12.5m, of which 11.6 million were UK citizens visiting live music events in other parts of the UK.

Over the past five years, the UK’s live music industry has been in extremely rude health, with a staggering 76% uptick in music tourists travelling to music events in the UK.

Last year, the number of overseas music visitors to live music events in the UK rose 7% to 823,000 with each spending an average of £850. This increase delivered a major boost to employment throughout the country, with 47,445 full time jobs in 2016 sustained by music tourism in the UK – a 22% increase on the 2015 figure of 39,034.

However, the figures also revealed a 13% drop in the level of direct spending at smaller music venues – those with a capacity of under 1,500 – in 2016 and a 21% fall in the number of overseas visitors to smaller venues.

Festivals credited by the report as being instrumental in bolstering music tourism in 2016 were Glastonbury, Latitude, Green Man in Wales’ Brecon Beacons and Lovebox in London.

– 30.9 million – total audience that attended live music events in the UK
– 3.9 million – total festival attendance in the UK
– 27 million – total concert attendance in the UK
– 18.4 million local residents attended local music events in the UK

– £4 billion total spend generated by music tourism in the UK
Direct spend £2.5 billion
Indirect spend £1.5 billion

– 12.5 million music tourists in 2016
Domestic 11.6 million
Overseas 823,000

– £656 million box office spend on tickets by music tourists in 2016
Domestic £610 million
Overseas £45 million 

– 40% of live music audiences are music tourists
– 47,445 full time jobs sustained by music tourism
– £850 average spend by overseas music tourists in the UK
– £150 average spend by domestic music tourists in the UK

– 6.2 million total audience at small music venues
– 1.67 million tourist visits to small venues
Domestic 1.56 million
Overseas 107,000

– £367 million total spend generated by music tourists visiting small venues
Direct £202 million
Indirect £166 million

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley commented on the report’s findings: “UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report clearly shows music and the creative industries are not only central to our cultural DNA but also hugely important for creating jobs and growth across the country. It’s fantastic to see a record number of visitors to live events in the UK and the huge popularity of our artists overseas. Our musicians are cultural ambassadors for Britain and help us show the world that we are an optimistic and open country.”

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher added: “A record 30.9 million people went to live music events in the UK last year and generated £4 billion for the UK economy. Music fans poured into a huge range of festivals like Glastonbury, Latitude in Suffolk, The Great Escape in Brighton and Green Man in the Brecon Beacons. They also enjoyed seeing the best British new talent in smaller venues which are a vital part of the live music industry.
“We have seen the incredible power of music to heal when the country were united by the One Love Manchester benefit gig following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert.

“Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing, as well as our economy. It showcases our talent to the world and brings pleasure to millions every day. But this success is being put at risk. That’s why UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival. And, we will be pressing the Government to make sure the impact of Brexit does not damage our export trade or make it harder for UK artists to tour abroad and for overseas acts to come here.”