Insights New BPI figures show that streaming has pushed the value of UK music sales and streams overseas to over half a billion pounds for the first time


The BPI says that the statistics reveal that the consumption of British music worldwide, which continues to rise, driven by the dynamic growth of music streaming, generated £519.7 million in export earnings in 2020, an increase of 6% on 2019 and the highest figure recorded since 2000, when the BPI began its annual survey of record label overseas income.

The UK is the largest exporter of music in the world after the USA, and around one in ten of all tracks streamed globally are now by a British artist. A BPI report earlier this year, “All Around The World”, found that with the right support, including a continuation of the successful “Music Export Growth Scheme” that has benefitted SME independent companies and their artists, annual UK music exports could reach £1 billion by 2030.

The BPI says that the growth in music exports has been powered by British artists and labels successfully harnessing the global reach of streaming, with 300 British artists already achieving more than 100 million streams annually. Indeed, more than 500 UK artists now achieve 50 million streams per year or more.

However, the BPI warns, the UK cannot be complacent. Despite this record growth in overseas revenues, the UK’s overall share of global music revenue is slipping within a hugely competitive global marketplace. The UK currently accounts for around 10% of the global total, down from a peak of 17% in 2015. Similarly, while the UK’s 6% growth in exports in 2020 is encouraging, overall the global music market grew more quickly (8.2%, IFPI). While some of this may be down to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that artists have been unable to perform live, it emphasises the fact that the UK must work harder to market its music to the rest of the world and retain its share of an expanding global market.

The BPI therefore repeats its call on the Government to strike a new strategic partnership with the music industry to take the opportunity presented by rapidly growing music exports fuelled by streaming, so that, as we build back after Covid, the full economic and cultural potential of British music can be realised.

In particular, the UK Government should:

  • double the successful Music Export Growth Scheme grant support, which generates a 12-1 return, and invest in international showcases and events that will help to promote British artists to the world;
  • ensure that a Cultural Exports / International Office provides effective targeted support to the commercial music sector, in particular to help navigate new administrative requirements following the UK’s departure from the EU, as well as facilitating cultural collaboration;
  • introduce a music production tax credit to encourage new investment into creating new recordings in the UK, boosting the generation of UK IP, jobs and skills;
  • prioritise agreements with the EU and third countries to enable artists and crews to tour and promote their music as easily as possible, and to make the UK easily accessible for global talent looking to visit the UK to record and perform; and
  • raise standards of copyright protection and enforcement in key export markets through trade negotiations, rejecting any watering down of UK copyright in deals.

To read the BPI’s press release in full, click here.