Insights UK Music publishes “This Is Music 2021” annual report, revealing devastating impact of COVID-19


Launching the report, UK Music called on the Government to introduce tax incentives and other employment-boosting measures to help the sector rebuild after the pandemic. It also called for urgent action to resolve the problems facing musicians and crew touring the EU. The measures are outlined in a new Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan, drawn up by UK Music and included in the new report.

Key findings from “This Is Music 2021”, which collated data about the music industry’s contribution in goods and services to the economy, i.e., Gross Value Added (GVA), include:

  • employment plunged by 35% from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020;
  • music industry’s economic contribution fell 46% from £5.8 billion to £3.1 billion in 2020; and
  • music exports dropped 23% from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion in 2020.

The impact of the pandemic was felt right across the industry as studios and venues were forced to close, and musicians and crew were unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many were not covered by Government support schemes.

The huge economic contribution that music made to the UK economy in 2019 almost halved as a result of the pandemic, falling by 46% from a record £5.8 billion (GVA) in 2019 to £3.1 billion in 2020.

The pandemic triggered a wave of job losses across the UK music industry, which saw one in three jobs lost in the sector as the employment level fell by 35% from 2019’s all-time high of 197,000 to 128,000 in 2020.

Exports suffered a 23% drop from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion last year.

UK Music’s Chief Executive, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said the report provided clear evidence of the need for swift Government action to help the music industry to continue rebuilding and return to growth post-pandemic. He outlined five key areas where swift action from the Government would help the industry create thousands of new jobs and provide a rewarding career for thousands of people:

  • tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs;
  • urgent action to remove barriers to touring the EU;
  • a permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets;
  • more funding and support for music exports; and
  • boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline.

In addition to UK Music’s research, UK Music also commissioned Public First to survey the views of the general public on the music industry. The survey found:

  • 75% of the public are proud of the UK music industry and its heritage;
  • 59% believe music improves the UK’s reputation overseas;
  • 74% say music is important to their quality of life;
  • the UK listens to 60 billion hours of music a year, the equivalent of 7 million years; and
  • one million people took up a music instrument during lockdown.

To read UK Music’s press release in full and for a link to the full report, click here.