Research prompts call for UK music strategy

Live music events across the UK attract 7.7 million music tourists who contribute £864 million to the national economy every year.

Those are the findings of a new study by UK Music, which has undertaken the first ever comprehensive analysis of the contribution music festivals and major concerts make to the economy, with the help of research carried out by tourism experts from Bournemouth University.

The report, ‘Destination: Music’, found that music tourists (both from overseas and within the UK) collectively spend £1.4 billion during the course of their trip.

Research leader, Professor Adam Blake said: “This is the first time that a comprehensive study of music tourism has ever been undertaken in the UK. The data on where music-goers come from confirms that large numbers of them do travel around the country to go to music events, and significant numbers come from overseas. However, it is important to note that our definition of a music tourist is hugely conservative, and that we did not analyse the vast numbers of non-ticketed or smaller capacity events. Subsequently, the true value of music to UK tourism will be much higher.”

UK Music’s report is based on data from more than 2.5 million ticket purchases to concerts and music festivals that took place in every part of the UK in 2009 from a variety of national ticketing agencies.

Academics from BU’s International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research used the ticketing data to determine how many people come to Britain from overseas for the primary purpose of attending a music festival or concert. UK Music then cross-referenced this data with festival surveys, tourism reports, economic impact assessments and music industry revenue data.

The research comes in light of the Government’s Plan For Growth, which identified the UK’s creative industries and tourism among the sectors with the greatest potential to drive economic growth.

In the report, UK Music makes a list of recommendations to Government to maximise the full potential of live music in boosting the UK’s tourism economy, including the implementation of a national live tourism strategy.

Among the other recommendations UK Music makes to Government are: developing a comprehensive ‘music tourism map app’ to help potential tourists design their own musical tour to cater for every musical taste; addressing difficulties that overseas performers may encounter with the UK’s visa system; and developing an industry-approved facility to trade and sell tickets to live music events