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Feature article

A Sound Performance - The economic value of the British music industry

Dave Harries appraises a report researched jointly by business advisers KPMG and the National Music Council...

A Sound Performance is an authoritative study that defines the values of the different sections of the UK music business and includes valuable statistics derived from the following:

  • Music publishing
  • Musical instrument production
  • Promotion
  • Management & agency
  • Live performance
  • Recording
  • Manufacturing
  • Retailing & record distribution
  • Education & training.
The report does not cover the extremely valuable contribution made by our esteemed audio equipment manufacturers, whose products were outside the definition of 'musical instrument' for the purpose of this survey.

Much of the information makes for absorbing reading, notably in the sections on record companies and recording studios. For example, the value of UK album sales rose from £611.4million in 1992 to £995.4m in 1998. Singles sales during the same period increased from £81.1m to £122.8m.

During 1997, the UK was the fourth largest music market in the world claiming 7.2% of global sales, behind the USA, Japan and Germany.

During 1992, imports to the UK totalled £139.9m against exports of £211.9m, giving a surplus of £72m. By 1997, the annual surplus had increased to £98.9m.

The report notes "It is anticipated that, with the growth of digital delivery systems, record companies will derive significant income from the digital downloading of recordings in the near future."

At present, the UK record companies employ a total of 7,000 persons.

Closer to home, A Sound Performance also contains statistics on the UK recording industry, the information gained from a specific survey combined with company results. These figures were obtained in close co-operation with the APRS and indicate that Accord studio members employ 660 people, have a combined turnover of £28.2m and overseas earnings of £3.7m.

The report estimates that there are 1,000 producers (including 500 part-time) in the UK, who work on 450 complete albums plus singles and odd tracks per year. The producer receives an average advance of £30,000 for each album, providing a total annual fee of £13.5m. Producers also receive a total of £10m per year in royalties for back catalogue and earlier sales. Annual income thus amounts to an estimated gross revenue of £23.5m. Of this, 40 per cent goes on related expenditure, leaving net total earnings of £14.1m.

A Sound Performance confirms the financial importance of the music industry to the UK economy by illustrating its invaluable contribution to our balance of trtade. It is clearly written and well-informed and, in my view, makes essential and fascinating reading for everyone involved in the business of music making.


A Sound Performance is published by and © National Music Council
Francis House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DE.
Tel: 020 8347 8618
Fax: 020 8347 8618


© APRS, 2010
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