Music tourism 'generates £90m' for Northern Ireland in 2018

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Thousands of Snow Patrol fans went to Ward Park, in Bangor, in May

Music tourism in Northern Ireland generated £90m of spending in 2018, according to a new report.

It was compiled by UK Music, the industry body of the British music industry.

The figure includes money spent on things like tickets, merchandise and accommodation as well as spending by organisers running an event.

The report said that in 2018 the total contribution of the music industry to the UK economy overall was £5.2bn.

The economic analysis for the 'Music by Numbers 2019' report was carried out in partnership with Oxford Economics.

UK Music measures the health of the UK music business each year by collating data about the industry's contribution in goods and services to the UK economy.

Media caption,
Bono appeared at the Snow Patrol concert in Bangor

Their latest report with data for 2018, which has just been published, said that the UK music industry grew across every sector.

That includes revenues generated from live music, employment in the industry, music tourism, retail and exports.

That is despite challenges including "an increasing complex online market, where platforms are often incentivised to avoid fairly rewarding creators," as well as concerns about the impact Brexit and rising business rates.

The report said that 294,000 music tourists visited Northern Ireland to go to a festival, show or gig in 2018.

That data includes both overseas and domestic visitors, however, as the report classifies domestic visitors as tourists if they were not "local" to the events they attended.

If someone in Northern Ireland travelled around 35 miles to attend a concert, gig or festival they were classed as a domestic tourist.

According to UK Music, there were 30,000 overseas music tourists in Northern Ireland in 2018 and 264,000 "domestic tourists".

Image caption,
Stormzy headlined a Belsonic gig at Belfast's Ormeau Park

UK music examined attendances at all live music events with suitable data, including concert and grassroots venues and festivals with a capacity of over 1,500 people.

Over 1,000 full-time equivalent jobs were also sustained by music tourism in Northern Ireland, according to UK Music.

Those jobs include a range of roles from promoters and sound engineers to security and bar staff.

In 2017, according to UK Music, £99m was spent on music tourism in Northern Ireland so the total spending figure fell in 2018.

However, it was much higher than the £78m UK Music estimated was spent in 2016.

The report said that although a small proportion of musicians and songwriters earn exceptionally well, incomes for musicians in general are below the average wage in the UK.

"According to the Office for National Statistics, musicians earned an average income of £23,059 in 2018 - well below the national average of £29,832," the report said.