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Value of UK's live music scene hits record high

The value of Britain’s live music sector hit a record £1.1bn last year, as fans flocked to see big name artists including Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones and Sam Smith on tour.

It helped to drive the music industry’s overall contribution to the UK economy – which also includes sales of British music overseas and the money spent on food and accommodation by music tourists – to £5.2bn in 2018.

Related: Why Glasgow is Britain’s best city for music lovers

The number of music tourists, those travelling from overseas or within the UK to get to live events, hit a new high of 11.2m last year, up from 10.9m in 2017.

“Live music is now at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both the UK and abroad to our arenas and smaller venues alike,” said Michael Dugher, the chief executive of UK Music, the industry body behind the annual report.

Total concert attendance remained level at 24.9m while festival-going soared, up 23% year-on-year to 4.9m people.

Scotland reported the biggest jump in music tourists, up 38% year-on-year to 1.1m, helped by new festivals such as Summer Sessions.

London remains the most popular destination for music tourists, with 2.8m coming to a wide range of live music including festivals such as Wireless and Lovebox.

The number of jobs sustained by music tourism was 45,530 last year, a record high, with overall employment in the music industry also at an all-time high of 190,935.

The annual report, Music by Numbers, shows UK music remains a hugely successful British export with £2.7bn in revenue from sales of music and tickets of UK acts overseas.

Dugher said it was crucial that politicians did not let Brexit derail the contribution to the UK economy made by the music sector. “We face many challenges to ensure we keep our music industry vibrant,” he said. “And we urgently need to ensure that the impact of Brexit doesn’t put in jeopardy the free movement of talent, just at the time when we should be looking outwards and backing the best of British talent right across the world.”

UK Music pointed out that while record companies and the biggest stars were thriving, the average musician was struggling to make a living. Musicians earned an average income of £23,059 in 2018, below the national average of £29,832, according to the Office for National Statistics.

“A small proportion of creators in the industry do earn exceptionally well,” said UK Music. “It is important to understand these figures do not reflect the financial struggles of many music creators.” It said 139,352 people were employed last year as music creators, including musicians, composers, songwriters, lyricists, producers and engineers.