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Live music revenue fell again in 2021, data confirms

The live music industry is still struggling to bounce back from the pandemic

By Hollie Geraghty

A crowd member puts their hands in the air at a live gig
(Picture: Pexels/Sebastian Ervi).

Royalties from music gigs fell almost 30 per cent in 2021, despite the return of live music in the summer.

In a new report from royalties collection body PRS for Music, concert revenue was recorded at £8 million, down from £11.3 million in 2020, and £54 million in 2019.

“High revenue generating concerts from Elton John, Dua Lipa and Eagles were postponed last year and, although there was evidence of recovery with festivals such as Reading and Leeds taking place, the impact of restrictions, as well as public confidence, continued to adversely impact the sector throughout the year,” the report reads.

PRS for Music also recorded an 84% decline in the number of live performance setlists reported in 2021, falling from 124,000 in 2019, to 19,300.

“It’s a huge decrease,” CEO Andrea Martin said (via BBC), ” but we will see a bounce back this year.

However, the report added that 2022 has begun with “renewed optimism” for the live music industry, with more than 240 major tours featuring PRS members planned for throughout the UK and beyond.

Overall, PRS for Music had a strong year, citing a collection of £777.1 million in royalties, and 27 trillion “performances” of music processed.

Streaming royalties from music played online reached £267.8 million, representing more than 50 per cent growth since 2019, with tracks like Ed Sheeran’s ‘Bad Habits’ and Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating’ contributing to growth.

“I’m very excited and proud of these results because they show that the music industry is very resilient,” Martin said. “It really shows that music connects and engages people and that we can bounce back.”

Earlier this year, the UK recorded music industry saw another year of growth in 2021, with 147 billion streams and over 150 million equivalent album sales recorded last year.

According to data from the BPI, Album Equivalent Streams (AES) for last year saw 159.3 million equivalent albums sold, up on the 155.4m from 2020, representing a seventh consecutive year of growth.

The biggest-selling album of 2021 was Adele‘s ’30’, which racked up over 600,000 sales, while Dua LipaEd SheeranDave and more also featured in the top ten list.