Attendance at UK live music events soared past 30 million in 2016

The number of people attending live music events in the UK rose by 12% in 2016 to 30.9 million, according to UK Music’s Wish You Were Here 2017 report.

The study reveals that live music fans generated £4 billion in direct and indirect spending in 2016 – an upswing of 11% on the £3.7bn spent in 2015.

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

“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,” said culture secretary Karen Bradley.

“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.”

The annual study, carried out by Oxford Economics, is compiled by collating data from hundreds of venues.

“A record 30.9 million people went to live music events in the UK last year and generated £4 billion for the UK economy,” said UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. “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.”

Since 2011, the live music industry in the UK has seen a 76% rise in music tourists travelling to enjoy music events in the UK while, last year, the numbers of overseas music visitors to live music events in the UK rose 7% to 823,000 with each spending an average of £850.

It defines domestic music tourists as event-goers who travelled at least three times the average commuting distance in the Government office region in which the event took place, and overseas music tourists as visitors who book their tickets to a music event from a country outside the UK

The increase in music tourism in 2016 provided a huge 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 with capacities of under 1,500 in 2016 and a 21% fall in the number of overseas visitors to smaller venues.

“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,” added Dugher. “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.”

UK live music in numbers: 2016

•                  30.9 million – total audience attending live music events

•                  3.9 million – total festival attendance

•                  27 million – total concert attendance

•                  18.4 million local residents attended local music events


Deb McKoy