British recorded music exports defied increasing global competition to grow by a record amount in 2022, as the success of UK artists on streaming services helped to take the annual total above £700 million for the first time.
According to new figures released by the BPI, the trade association for the UK’s world-leading music companies and record labels, the value of UK music sales and streams overseas increased by a fifth (20%) last year to £709 million – a jump of more than £100 million in the space of a single year1.
Representing the highest annual exports level since 2000, when the BPI began its yearly survey of label overseas income, the record figure came in a year when UK artists were behind some of the biggest tracks streamed on services around the world. As It Was by Harry Styles was the most-streamed track globally of 2022, according to data from Luminate, with Heat Waves by Glass Animals at No.2, while they were joined in the year’s Top 10 by Elton John & Dua Lipa (Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)) and Ed Sheeran (Shivers).
With success stretching far beyond the UK’s biggest global superstars, more than 400 British artists in total each accumulated over 100 million audio streams of their music worldwide in 2022. This included nearly two dozen who have been granted funding through the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) – the BPI-managed scheme which supports small-to medium-sized independent music companies to build the careers of artists in overseas markets. The Government recently announced as part of its Creative Industries Sector Vision that funding for the scheme, which has supported over 300 artists and achieves a near 14-1 return on investment, is to be tripled on its current rate by a total of £3.2 million over the next two years.
There was a double-digit percentage increase in physical and digital download sales, streams and other consumption of British music in every region globally last year – a remarkable feat given the hyper-competitive nature of the global streaming economy. This was led by emerging music markets, including the Middle East (+59%), Africa (+48%) and Latin America (+38%), where streaming user bases grew significantly in volume. UK music consumption also increased in more established markets, rising in North America (+28%), Europe (+11%), Asia (+17%) and Oceania (+16%).
All but one of the UK’s 20 leading territories for recorded music experienced growth, including its biggest market of the US where revenue improved by 28% year-on-year. Although this growth was partially enhanced by the strong value of the US dollar against the pound, a situation mirrored elsewhere with other foreign currencies against sterling, it also reflected significant success by UK artists across the pond. This again included Harry Styles and Glass Animals who had the two most popular tracks on audio streaming services in the US in 2022, while other notable British successes there included Adele, Coldplay, Kate Bush and Sam Smith.
While music exports rose by a more modest 4% in Germany, the UK’s second biggest market, there were double-digit percentage increases in France (+15%), Australia (+17%), Canada (+30%), the Netherlands (+15%), Italy (+18%), Spain (14%) and Brazil (47%). The biggest percentage growth occurred in India with a 130% year-on-year increase in revenue, establishing it as one of the UK’s 20 biggest overseas markets for recorded music. Only China among the UK’s Top 20 markets was down on the year, dropping 2%.
Overall, the leap in overseas revenue puts the UK on track to deliver BPI’s stated aim of reaching £1 billion each year by the end of this decade for annual recorded music exports, with yearly revenues having grown by more than 70% in just five years.
Welcoming the growth, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Executive, Sophie Jones, said:
“These record export numbers by UK labels represent an exceptional achievement in the face of unprecedented competition on the global music stage, both from long-established and rapidly-expanding new music markets. They put us on course to reach our goal of £1 billion in annual UK music exports by the end of the decade, but for this growth to continue the UK needs to remain a supportive environment for investment in music, and policy makers should continue to work with industry to maximise the overseas potential of UK music.
“It was therefore encouraging that we recently achieved additional investment of £3.2m over the next two years for our successful Music Export Growth Scheme, which has already backed the international careers of hundreds of independent UK artists and can now support even more of them. MEGS has played an integral role in driving our export numbers with a high number of artists who have received funding now enjoying substantial and sustained streaming success in overseas markets. This, in turn, is delivering for the UK economy.”
Minister for Exports Lord Offord said:
“We are proud to support our creative industries, so it is excellent news that British music exports grew at a record rate in 2022. Last month we announced that we tripled funding for the Music Export Growth Scheme, ensuring the next generation of UK artists and SMEs can continue to champion British music abroad, share our world class UK creativity across the globe, create jobs and grow the economy.”
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:
“From global superstars to emerging artists, British music is breaking records across the world. The Government wants to support them every step of the way and we’re investing millions to help the next generation of talent launch international careers and keep UK artists at the top of the charts for years to come.”
While UK artists have in recent years been estimated to have accounted for around one in 10 streams around the world, significantly greater than the UK’s share of global GDP, the UK now has to compete against not only traditional music players such as the US and Canada, but fast-growing markets including those in Latin America and countries like South Korea whose artists are achieving far-reaching international success thanks to significantly greater government backing.
Please see Notes to Editors for details of nearly two dozen MEGS artists who each accumulated more than 100 million annual streams in 2022, and a deeper analysis of the UK artists behind some of the biggest global streaming hits of the year, including Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Adele, who led an eclectic mix of around 450 UK artists who each generated at least 100 million audio streams globally.
Notes to Editors
1 Growth was enhanced by the strong value of the US dollar against the pound, a situation mirrored elsewhere with other foreign currencies against sterling.
Nearly two dozen MEGS artists each accumulated more than 100 million annual streams
Artists funded by the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) were among UK recorded music’s biggest success stories overseas last year with 23 of them each generating at least 100 million audio streams across the year, while nearly 50 surpassed 50 million audio streams around the world, according to data from Luminate. Those reaching nine-figure stream counts included singer-songwriters Beabadoobee, Novo Amor, Rina Sawayama and Strawberry Guy, rapper Knucks, electronic music artists Bicep, Honne, Jungle and Maribou State, and rock bands Amber Run and Wolf Alice.
The scheme, joint-funded by industry and Government and managed by the BPI, boosts UK music exports by making grants available to small-and-medium-sized independent music companies to support artists’ careers in overseas markets. Since starting in 2014, MEGS has helped more than 300 UK artists and the BPI has long been calling for an expansion of the scheme, a request that was met in June when it was announced there would be a further £3.2m of Government funding for the scheme over the next two years. This will mean the scheme, which has generated a return on investment of more than £13 for every £1 invested, will now be able to provide higher grants to a greater number of artists. This will generate even more revenue to the UK economy from music exports.
UK artists behind some of the biggest global streaming hits of the year
Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Adele led an eclectic mix of around 450 UK artists who each generated at least 100 million audio streams globally last year, according to Luminate data. They were joined at the top of this list by fellow contemporary artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Calvin Harris, Coldplay, Dave, Dua Lipa, Glass Animals, Labrinth, Lewis Capaldi and Sam Smith, as well as music legends including The Beatles, Elton John, Pink Floyd and Queen.
Some of these artists played a prominent role in UK talent being heavily represented among the biggest hits on streaming services worldwide in 2022, including on Spotify. British artists were behind four of the ten most-streamed tracks globally on the leading music streaming platform across the year, led by Harry Styles’ As It Was, which was joined by Glass Animals’ Heat Waves, Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John & Dua Lipa and Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush in the year-end Top 10. Overall, UK artists claimed more than a quarter of the 50 most-streamed songs on Spotify in 2022, with the chart also including hits by Adele, Coldplay, Calum Scott and Tom Odell.
Alongside its many established superstars, the UK could also count on a diverse range of emerging and breakthrough artists to help to lift British recorded music exports to another new high last year. Backed by record label support and investment, these included a number of artists whose debut albums only came out this decade or have not yet been released but who in 2022 each generated hundreds of millions of audio streams or more of their music around the world. Among these artists are the rappers Aitch, ArrDee, Central Cee, D-Block Europe and Tion Wayne, DJ and producers Joel Corry and Fred Again, and singer-songwriters Cat Burns, Mimi Webb, PinkPantheress and RAYE.
Top 10 markets for UK music exports (by value)
- USA £291.8 million +27.6%
- Germany £58.1 million +4.1%
- France £42.5 million +15.4%
- Australia £31.1million +16.7%
- Canada £26.1 million +30.0%
- Netherlands £22.4 million +14.8%
- Japan £20.6 million +5.2%
- Italy £17.9 million +18.3%
- Spain £13.2 million +13.7%
- Sweden £12.1 million +7.8%