British music exports soared 13.7% to a high of £590.8 million ($709 million) in 2021, the highest total on record, per the latest analysis from British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the trade body for independent and major record labels in the U.K.
The 2021 total is the highest since the BPI began its annual survey of record label overseas income in 2000 and was driven by a record number of U.K. artists, nearly 400, each achieving 100 million-plus global streams. These include superstars like Adele, Dua Lipa, Dave and Ed Sheeran, and several emerging artists, including Glass Animals, PinkPantheress and Rex Orange County. More than 600 U.K. artists achieved at least 50 million audio streams, while over 1,500 surpassed 10 million audio streams.
The analysis reveals that physical and digital download sales, streams and other consumption of British music increased in Europe by 17.6%, North America by 11.0% and Asia by 11.1%. Ten of the U.K.’s 20 biggest music export markets experienced double-digit percentage growth on the previous year, led by China with a 61.2% year-on-year increase, the U.S. (up 10.4%), Germany (up 31.3%), France (up 20.1%) and Canada (up 18.%). U.K. music exports to Latin America rose 12.7% overall, including a 19.2% year-on-year increase in Mexico.
However, the U.K.’s share of the global market is under pressure from established markets that are consolidating their share of the world market, such as the U.S. and Europe, and from fast-growing domestic music markets that are achieving greater international success such as Latin America and South Korea, the analysis notes.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI, BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize, said: “These record-breaking figures once again highlight the extraordinary popularity of British music internationally. This is not just about our much-loved superstars, but new artists and bands from all over the U.K. who, with their label’s investment and expertise, are able to successfully navigate the competitive streaming landscape.”
“Recent market estimates suggest the global recorded music industry could double in size by 2030, meaning there’s ample opportunity for more artists to achieve international success and for music to deliver for U.K. PLC,” Taylor added. “But continued success isn’t guaranteed, as competition increases from international markets, making it harder to cut through and putting pressure on our global market share. The Music Exports Growth Scheme provides vital funding to help independent labels and artists expand their businesses overseas, and with sustained support from Government, British music will continue to thrive all around the world.”
More than 60 U.K. artists whose music was streamed at least 20 million times worldwide last year received funding through the Music Export Growth Scheme, an export support scheme for independent music companies, administered by the BPI and joint funded by industry and the U.K. government.