The UK and Irish Music Industry: A breakdown

18 April, 2024

The music industry is growing fast. It has bounced back after the pandemic and is now bigger than ever. Employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels in the UK, and we are seeing large-scale growth in recording and music publishing across Europe (This is Music).

Live music, too, has made a welcome return, although economic and political issues have been putting strain on British and Irish artists: in the past year, we’ve seen festivals postponed, grassroots venues shut down, and nightclubs in a precarious condition – not to mention the ongoing difficulties with international touring due to Brexit.

Two DJs performing a set

Interestingly, our listening habits are changing. Although more and more people are consuming music via streaming services, we are also seeing an expansion in vinyl sales. In the UK, 5.9 million vinyl records were sold in 2023 – the highest figure since 1990 (BBC).

At BIMM Music Institute, we’ll help you navigate this ever-evolving industry. At one of our seven campuses across Europe, you can not only hone your musical and technical skills, but also develop the business acumen that you need to build a sustainable career.

The facts

According to the IFPI Global Music Report 2023, the UK is the 3rd largest music market in the world.

The UK’s annual economic report on music, This is Music, states that the music industry’s contribution to the UK economy was £6.7 billion (GVA) in 2022 (This is Music).

Total UK music industry employment reached 210,000 in 2022 (This is Music).

PwC’s latest Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2023-2027 shows that between 2021 and 2022, the Irish music and radio market has increased by 32% (or €93 million).

Live music accounted for 44% of Ireland’s music market in 2022, and revenues from live music are expected to continue to grow 6.1% each year, which is above the global rate of 4.6% (PwC).

The biggest names in the business

RAYE made history at the BRIT Awards, winning a grand total of six awards, including Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. For her dazzling performance on the night, she was joined by one current BIMM student and two graduates, who all formed part of the choir.

Person holding a phone recording a Live performance

After a long and nervous wait (the longest in 17 years), Glastonbury Festival has finally announced its headliners: Dua Lipa, Coldplay and SZA. The lineup also includes BIMM Bristol alumni IDLES, as well as Fontaines D.C, who attended BIMM Dublin.

Talking about Irish talent, singer-songwriter CMAT was nominated for International Artist of the Year at the BRIT Awards, and Jazzy and NewDad made Ticketmaster’s Breakthrough 2024 list, each receiving a grant of £5,000 (or the equivalent in euros).

TikTok vs UMG

Love it or hate it, TikTok has helped to launch the careers of some of our favourite artists, such as Doja Cat, Jack Harlow and even Olivia Rodrigo. This is also true of PinkPantheress, who won Billboard’s Producer of the Year 2023.

However, concerns have arisen that artists are not being properly compensated by the platform; their voices are often reproduced without their permission, and they do not receive any of the royalties from these AI-generated recordings.

After negotiations with TikTok broke down, Universal Music Group (UMG) made the decision to remove its music from the platform. Despite the feud, Taylor Swift’s music has now been reinstated ahead of the release of her new album – is this because she owns the copyright to her music, or did she come to a separate agreement with TikTok?

How are we supporting live music?

According to a report by Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, 2023 was the “biggest year ever” for ticket sales and concert turnout. 145 million people attended music events worldwide, which is 20% higher than in 2022.

However, it’s a different story for small venues: The Music Venue Trust (MVT)’s Annual Report 2023 shows that 123 UK grassroots venues abandoned live music last year, mainly due to rising rent and energy costs.

BIMM students sitting down

MVT’s Pipeline Investment Fund has been instrumental in providing financial support to grassroots venues, which goes towards staff training and minor building or staging developments. By the end of 2023, they had distributed over £282,000 to venues across the UK.

In March 2024, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee heard from representatives from various industry bodies, who each offered their solutions. MVT, for instance, urged for a £1 levy to be placed on tickets to concert arenas, which would then be distributed to smaller venues.

The growth of electronic music

A recent NTIA report illustrates the astounding growth of electronic music on digital streaming platforms: it is the second biggest genre in the UK in this respect, and London has the second highest number of electronic music monthly listeners of anywhere in the world.

Artists such as Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Fred Again.. are representing the UK on the global stage, while Ireland’s electronic scene is blessed by the likes of KETTAMA, Welshy and blk. Irish dance music has also been gaining popularity across the Atlantic, with Rebūke and Bicep both featured in the lineup for Coachella 2024.

Want to make your mark in the music biz?

Great, because we want to help you out. Our seven BIMM Music Institute campuses are based in some of the most musical cities in Europe and are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities designed to cater to all specialisms. Our purpose-built recording studios and live rooms are ideal for professional recording, mixing and mastering, and you can even borrow mics, guitars, keyboards, recording equipment and DJ decks.

Our students have gone on to do amazing things with their musical talents: BIMM Brighton alumnus Mimi Webb toured her debut album across Europe last year, and Victor Ray of BIMM London has just been announced as the supporting act for Teddy Swims on his upcoming tour.

BIMM students using lighting equipment

And it is not only performers that have ‘made it’: BIMM Dublin graduate Gemma Bradley is a renowned radio host; former BIMM London student Megan Hofman manages artists such as Tom Grennan, Sports Team, La Roux and Supergrass; and Ryder, who currently attends BIMM London, is a producer on Skepta’s new EP, 48 Hours.

To find out more about BIMM Music Institute, and to browse our courses, please visit our website.

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