Music sector value soars

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH music industry contributes as much to the nation's balance of payments as steel exports do, with overseas sales of more than pounds 1.3bn a year. In total, music boosts Britain's economy by pounds 3.2bn a year.

Music products, from compact discs to musical instruments and live performances, account for 15 per cent of overseas sales, a figure exceeded in United Kingdom industry only by whisky sales and the manufacture of Formula 1 racing cars.

The industry's value was revealed yesterday by the accountant KPMG, in the most detailed report on the business. About 130,000 full-time jobs are dependent on music in the UK and KPMG forecasts that this is to grow to more than 200,000 by 2007. The total value of the music industry is expected to increase in the same period to pounds 6.7bn.

"British acts have made significant impacts overseas," said Geoffrey Hoon, a Foreign Office minister. "These include relative newcomers such as All Saints, Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers; but we also have a wealth of talent including Sting, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd whose popularity remains high in many countries.

"All these acts have contributed to the UK's success overseas and as a result, the music industry contributes as much to this country's trade surplus as the steel industry."

Britain had a trade surplus in musical products and services in 1997 of pounds 519m, thanks to overseas sales of pounds 1.3bn, compared with imported goods worth pounds 813m. Record companies made pounds 724m overseas in 1997 and overseas tours by British bands brought in pounds 108m.

"This is the first time the real value of the music industry has been fully known," said David Murrell, the chairman of KPMG's media department.

"The sector has grown by 30 to 50 per cent in the last five years and it is going to go on growing. It is being driven by increased consumer expenditure on luxury goods and much of it is being directed to an industry where Britain is the second biggest in the world."