Streaming powers British music exports to record levels


Streaming has pushed the value of the UK music industry’s overseas exports to more than half a billion pounds for the first time according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Consumption of British music worldwide generated £519.7m in export earnings in 2020, a rise of 6% on 2019 and the highest figure recorded since the organisation began its annual survey of record label overseas income in 2000. 

It means the UK is the largest exporter of music in the world after the US and around 1 in 10 of all tracks streamed globally are now by a British artist.

The BPI said 300 British musicians are already achieving more than 100 million streams annually, while 500 now reach 50 million streams or more per year.

It points to the success of stars such as Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy. However, the global popularity of British classic artists such as The Beatles, Queen, The Cult, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones similarly remains at an all time high.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI and Brit Awards said:

“The explosive growth of music streaming around the world represents an unprecedented opportunity for British music. With global competition intensifying, now is the time to push hard, to actively promote our artists to a global audience and maximise our share of global growth, with artists such as Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Stormzy, The 1975 and Mabel, among many others, now leading the way alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran, Adele, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.

“As the UK builds back from Covid-19 and forges its future as an independent trading nation, music can play a pivotal cultural and economic role. We call on Government to seize the moment and make music a champion of our global trading ambitions.”

The BPI is now calling on the UK Government to strike a new strategic partnership with the British music industry to seize the opportunity presented by rapidly growing music exports fuelled by streaming. They say they aim to double the annual exports to £1 billion by 2030.

In order to do this; the BPI say 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.
  • Raise standards of copyright protection and enforcement in key export markets through trade negotiations, rejecting any watering down of UK copyright in deals.


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