A recent survey by the UK’s national tourism agency found the country’s musical success on the domestic and global stage was one of the reasons for attracting at least some of the 31 million tourists who travelled to the UK last year.
The UK music industry is an incredibly important sector for the UK economy.The UK is one of only three countries that export more music than it imports because the global impact of music produced in the UK or by British musicians is massive.
This country is the largest producer of recorded music in Europe and the third largest in the world. Incredibly, UK artists are responsible for around 12 percent of global album sales. The country has a history of producing world-class musical talent in every genre from dance to classical. Some of the biggest rock and pop stars on the planet, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, have launched from Britain’s shores and their music is available and bought in countries from Austria to Zambia.
Fortunately, that trend for producing world beating stars has increased in the last few years with artists such as Adele, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons and Florence & The Machine all producing global selling albums and ensuring that no fewer than five of the top 10 selling global albums in 2012 were by British acts.
This continual unearthing and development of new globe straddling talent provides Britain with a shop window and a reason for people all around the world to be interested in what is happening in the UK and to become potential music tourists.
Separately, music and tourism are established businesses. However, together they can become powerful drivers for growth, employment and enrich the cultural offering of a region. Making a positive contribution to many local and regional economies. There are many music festivals across the UK making major contributions to local economics including Glastonbury, Reading and Leads, Lunar and download.
Any music festival or the region it is based in can brand itself and then market that brand and all the musical delights that make up the offering overseas or domestically. The music tourism capital of the UK is London, attracting 1.8 million music tourists. London alone accounted for 28 percent of all music tourism visits in the UK in 2012.
The North West dominated music tourism outside of the capital, accounting for 17 percent of all music tourist visits in the UK in 2012. The region drew in more than a million music tourists out of a total live music audience of 2.87 million.
The West Midlands was the third largest region in terms of total numbers of music tourists, attracting 809,000 music tourists.More interestingly, perhaps, is that music tourists comprised 50 percent of all live music audiences in the West Midlands on average. Proportionally, this is much higher than the national average of 41 percent.
Only the South East can claim a higher proportion of music tourists relative to locals at live music events. In the South East, a whopping 53 percent of all live music audiences were, on average, comprised of music tourists.
Northern Ireland, the North East and Wales have done better than they expected. Despite their relatively modest populations, they each attracted an influx of nearly 200,000 music tourists. A recent study by VisitBritain found that 44% of incoming tourists to the UK believe music was one of Britain’s key cultural activities.
Britain’s ambition is to attract 40 million visitors by 2020. Music tourism already contributes to this, however, the music industry can play a much bigger role in helping VisitBritain and others achieve this target.
By 2020, the country targets earnings of £31.5 billion from inbound tourism. Music tourists already spend over £1 billion and an increase in this sector could again help achieve the target set. Music tourism can help improve Britain’s image overseas and also help promote new and young artists, who could grow if they find an audience outside of the country.
What ideas could be introduced to improve music tourism and music festivals?