A study in the UK reported that the number of people who attended live music events in 2016 reached 30.9 million, a 12 percent increase. As part of the ‘Wish You Were Here’ series, the report features the increasing contribution that live music and music tourism has on the UK economy. With music festivals growing in popularity, more people want to experience the culture, leading visitors to flock to venues across the UK. Concerts and festivals have become tourist destinations as people travel across the country or even internationally to attend. There were 12.5 million music tourists in the UK last year with 823,000 of them being from another country.
Box office sales showed that music tourists spent 656 million on ticket sales alone. The economy benefits indirectly as the tourists also have to factor in other costs such as travel, hotels, and meals. Overseas, music tourists spent an average of 850 GBP. Music tourism also supports the creation of jobs with 47,445 full-time positions being created by the live music industry. A strong staff is needed to ensure that festivals drawing in large crowds and even concerts on a smaller scale run smoothly.
The findings reveal that the live music industry is benefits cities across the UK. However, not everyone is benefiting from the growth of the live music industry. Even though smaller music venues saw a growth in the number of tourists visiting, the amount of direct spending dropped by 13 percent as most people chose not to purchase food/drink inside the venues. London’s smaller venues saw an overall drop in visitors and spending. Smaller venues are important for emerging artists as many of the big names, not just in electronic music, started performing at local venues.
Live music may see challenges to its future, such as keeping the doors of these places open and being targets of attacks, but there is optimism overall as there is increasing interest in live music. Paul Latham, chairman of the UK Music group, stated in the foreword of the report, “It’s about the ability of live shows to unite and uplift people, especially those left grieving and heartbroken about the terrible events that saw terror attacks in Manchester and in London”. Live music is important because of music tourism and the economic contributions, but the value of music stretches beyond numbers and statistics.
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