Although it is easy to talk about the “music industry,” just what is it, or, more accurately, what are the elements that establish the whole?
I found an answer in a report prepared by UK Music, a trade organization that represents—yes, exactly what its name unambiguously states.
In its codification there are six primary sectors and then a various number of subsectors in each:
- Music Creators: musician, composer, songwriter, lyricist, vocalist, producer, engineer
- Live Music: music festival organizers, music promotors, music agents, production services, ticketing agents, convert venues and arenas
- Music Publishing: publishing rights holders, publishing companies
- Recorded Music: recorded rights holders, record labels, physical manufacturing and distribution, digital distribution, recording studios
- Music Representation: collective management organizations, music managers, music trade bodies, music accountants, music lawyers
- Music Retail: retail of musical instruments, manufacturer of musical instruments, digital music retail, physical music retail
Of the sectors, Music Creators has by far the greatest number of people employed (“full-time equivalency,” meaning this is what they do), with 142,000 of the industry’s total 197,168. In second, way, way, back is Live Music at 34,000; then Music Retail, 11,300; Recorded Music, 5400, Music Representatives, 3,100; and Music Publishing, 1,368.
The importance of the music industry is really significant to the UK economy. According to UK Music, it contributed £5.8-billion to the UK economy in 2019. To put that into some context, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the UK automotive trade association, the auto industry contributed £15.3-billion during the same period. The music industry employs 197,168. The auto industry 864,300.
But whereas people who work in the auto industry work for employers, according to UK Music, 72% of the people in the music industry are self-employed. When times are good, that is not bad. But when times are bad, that is not good.
And we all know which time we’re living in now.
While the UK government has established the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (yes, Scheme is part of its official name, not some sort of linguistic dodge) as part of its response to the COVID-19, UK Music estimates that only about a third of those working in entertainment and the arts qualify for it.