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Government support urged after report shows almost 30m attended concerts last year
Attendance at UK music events continues to rise - but UK Music CEO Jo Dipple (below) wants more government support
LIVE BY JAMES HANLEY
UK Music is urging the government to up its support for the live sector after a new report revealed a figure equivalent to nearly half of the UK population attended a music festival or concert last year.
A total audience of 27.7 million attended live music events in the UK in 2014, up from 24m in the previous 12 months, comprising 24m attending concerts and 3.5m going to festivals. More people are also watching live music locally, with 17.3m local residents attending music events in their local area in 2015, a 14% rise year-on-year.
UK arenas The O2 in London, Manchester Arena and The SSE Hydro in Glasgow were the Top 3 arenas worldwide in terms of ticket sales, while music tourism generated £3.7 billion in total direct and indirect spend in the UK, a 7% increase on the previous year, sustaining 39,034 full time jobs.
Despite the impressive figures – released by UK Music as part of its annual Wish You Were Here report – the organisation’s CEO Jo Dipple has called for local authorities and national Government to devise strategies for live music in tourism, planning law, development rights, policing and licensing. “The UK puts on the best festivals and the best concerts in the world,” she told Music Week. “We are very good at music in this country, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need policies that bolster our success.” “It’s very important to have the actual stats around live music activity in the UK, because it’s so strong and so important. There are a lot of policies that we want to talk to government about and this kind of economic impact assessment gives us the language to argue with policy makers that it’s a very important area for them to concentrate on.”
The report counts both overseas visitors and domestic music fans that travelled at least three times the average commuting distance to attend an event as “music tourists”, of which there were 10.4m in the UK in 2015 - 38% of the whole live music audience. Overseas music tourism increased by 16% to 767,000 visitors, each spending £852 on average in 2015, while domestic tourism fell 7%, attributed to increased local demand and higher overseas numbers.
“The main reason we publish this report is that government, national and especially local, doesn’t always take our economic worth as seriously as it
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S t a s s e n should,” said Live Nation chief operating officer Paul Latham . “We deliver huge amounts of national and international tourists to our events, who spend in our towns and cities where they are hosted.”
Major music events in 2015 included stadium concerts by Ed Sheeran, AC/DC and Foo Fighters, outdoor gigs by Taylor Swift, Blur and The Strokes and arena tours by Take That, Fleetwood Mac, One Direction, Madonna and U2.
The report also reinforced the need to protect small music venues. Grassroots music venues – defined as those with capacities under 1,500, were visited by a total audience of 5.6m in 2015, of which 1.45m were music tourists, who generated a total spend of £231m. “The music industry’s ecosystem is dependent on every part being successful,” said Latham. “If planning and licensing law allows grassroots venues to fail, there is a knock-on effect up the ladder, which hits the health of the whole music industry.”
Dipple added: “The new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, made a huge commitment in his manifesto to introducing an agent of change principle for grassroots music venues and to creating a proper strategy for music and music tourism in London.
“Political leadership is very important and I think policies to support music, in a locality and nationally, are things that politicians need to show the way on.”