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STREAMING ROCKS U.K. EXPORTS; CAN THE GOV'T DO MORE?

Streaming has pushed the value overseas of U.K. music to more than half a billion pounds for the first time since such records have been kept, according to new figures released by the BPI. Despite this landmark growth, the U.K.’s overall share of global music revenue is slipping.

2020 consumption of British music worldwide generated £519.7m in export earnings, an increase of 6% over 2019 and the highest figure recorded since 2000. Today, the U.K. is the largest exporter of music on the planet after the U.S.; approximately 1 in 10 of the tracks streamed globally are by a British artist.

The expansion of music exports has been powered by artists and labels successfully harnessing the global reach of streaming, with 300 British acts earning more than 100m streams annually; more than 500 U.K. artists now garner 50m streams per year or more.

Artists who've helped power this growth include Dua LipaHarry StylesLewis CapaldiStormzy, Little Mix and The 1975, as well as more-established superstars like Ed SheeranAdeleColdplaySam Smith and Calvin Harris. The global popularity of such British luminaries as The BeatlesQueenPink Floyd and The Rolling Stones, meanwhile, remains undimmed.

Still, the U.K.’s overall share of global music revenue has slipped to 10%, down from a peak of 17% in 2015. And while 2020's 6% growth is encouraging, the global music market grew more quickly overall—by 8.2%, according to the IFPI

Some of this may owe to the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting inability of artists to perform live. The BPI nonetheless urges the U.K. to work harder than ever before to promote its music to the rest of the world and retain its share of an expanding global market. As such, the trade body is calling on the government to strike a new strategic partnership with the U.K. music industry to realize the opportunity presented by rapidly growing music exports fueled by streaming. With the right support, the BPI predicts that annual exports could reach £1b by 2030.

“As the U.K. builds back from COVID-19 and forges its future as an independent trading nation, music can play a pivotal cultural and economic role,” said Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards. “We call on government to seize the moment and make music a champion of our global trading ambitions.”

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