The UK Government can’t work out how much its own music industry is worth

With new Government figures showing that the worth of the UK’s ‘creative industries’ have reached a record high, there’s cause for celebration in the British music business this week.

Or is there?

The numbers are inarguably impressive. According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Creative Industries are now worth £76.9 billion per annum to the UK economy. They employed 1.7m people in 2013, up 10.1% year-on-year.

The ‘music, performing and visual artists’ sub-section of the creative industries did particularly well, with employment rising 14.4% in 2013 to 243,000 and overall income reaching £5.5bn, up a whopping 19% year-on-year.

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All very well… but how did the UK music industry perform specifically?

We don’t know. And neither does the UK Government.

Buried in the appendix at the back of its new report, the DCMS admits: ‘While a good part of the music industry is implicitly included in the codes making up the Creative Industries Economic Estimates, the industry and occupation codes do not allow the contribution of music to be satisfactorily identified in a separate category.’

Hmmm. ‘A good part of the music industry‘. Not the most convincing of sentences.

And which kind of small-fry roles might be that little bit beyond the DCMS’s data bank?

Occupation codes do not allow a number of roles to be identified e.g. in A&R.’

Ah, yes. A&R. What do those guys even do anyway, right?

Sadly, the DCMS’s admissions then get worse:

  • It can’t work out how much the UK live music industry is worth:

‘Even at the highest resolution of detail available in the ONS data we use, live music is counted alongside theatre in a single “Performing arts” category.’

  • And forget about one or two-person management companies:

‘There are also challenges related to capture of micro-businesses and the inaccurate classification of music businesses in the ONS Business Register that underpins the Annual Business Survey on which GVA estimates in this release are produced.’

The DMCS instead points readers in the direction of British trade body UK Music, which has managed to estimate the size of the UK music industry. Instead of Government survey data, it used commercial information to put together its 2013 report, Measuring Music.

It’s a really useful piece of work – go and check it out here – which estimates the UK music industry’s contribution to the British economy in 2013 was £3.8bn, up 9% on 2012.

But it’s not a Government-funded DCMS report; one which sets out to usefully audit the creative industries in the UK, and then essentially turns to the music industry and says: ‘Actually, you’re a bit too complicated.’

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Music Business Worldwide

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