Live gigging sets the stage for £2.4bn boost to UK pubs and bars

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  • Industry-first report finds live music helps hospitality sales soar, with the potential to deliver over £100k in additional annual revenue to managed venues.
  • Artists gigging in pubs and bars earn £25,000 per year on average – 50% more than the typical UK musician.
  • ‘Seed’ music set for dramatic growth with 87% of hospitality venues planning to increase their live music offering next year.

Wednesday 29 November 2023: A new industry-first report published today reveals the ‘seed’ music scene – gigging in the hospitality sector – could be the catalyst for a multi-billion pound boost to venues and artists.

Based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 artists and over 500 venues, the UK’s first Live Music Index found that if all venues with the potential to show live music did so, it could be worth up to £2.4bn in revenue in the hospitality sector. By creating a stage for musicians to perform, an individual managed pub or bar could see their sales soar by an average of £107k a year.

The ‘seed’ music scene is also helping over 20,000 artists who regularly gig in the nation’s pubs and bars earn up to 50%* more than the typical musician, with annual average earnings of £25,000. If all UK artists were to gig in the ‘seed’ music sector, the earning potential could be as much as £1.3bn – an estimated £400m in extra earnings for UK musicians.  

The Live Music Index conducted by CGA by Nielsen IQ and commissioned by live music marketplace GigPig, in conjunction with the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment (LIVE), Pirate.com and Play Music Today (PMT), has been published to reveal the size and impact of this previously-unreported section of the UK’s music industry.

According to the industry-consortium led by GigPig, it’s time to wake up and smell the flourishing benefits of the UK’s ‘seed’ music scene. Report findings include:

  • Live music a lifeline for UK pubs, bars and restaurants

While live music has long been a staple of Britain’s pubs and bars, it is now becoming a lifeline for venues struggling to stay afloat. Nearly three quarters (73%) of the venues surveyed host live music at least once a week, helping boost sales by 33%, footfall by 36% and average spend per visit by 64%. The report outlines how bars would likely benefit from the biggest revenue uplift, with an annual expected rise of £240k. 

  • Gigs in pubs and bars set for dramatic growth

According to the report, the ‘seed’ music scene is braced for dramatic growth, with nearly nine out of ten venues (87%) planning to increase their live music offering over the next 12 months. This is primarily to improve the atmosphere and customer satisfaction (87%), increase revenue and footfall (79%) and support local artists (48%).

  • Gigging in the hospitality sector pays off for artists

Of the 43,000 plus musicians in the UK, more than half (56%) regularly gig at pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs. On average those gigging in the ‘seed’ music sector earn £25,000 per year, rising to over £30,000 for artists using the GigPig platform. Surprisingly, the highest 9% of artists who are using GigPig to find their gigs earn as much as £60,000 annually.

  • The ‘seed’ music scene is helping artists top up their income

The ‘seed’ music scene is also playing an important role in helping UK musicians access supplementary work, with nearly two thirds (59%) gigging to top up their income. In fact, only 6% of all artists surveyed gigged full time, 20% part time and the vast majority (75%) on a casual basis. More than two thirds (65%) of artists said they want to gig full-time.

Michael Forster, CEO at GigPig, said: “It’s what many of us who’ve dedicated our lives to gigging have known, but it’s now clear that the hospitality sector is the cultural and economic lifeblood of the UK’s music scene. That’s why it’s our mission to help every venue become a stage, give every artist the opportunity to get paid to play and bring live music to every town and city in the UK. Music is the bedrock of our culture and identifying the ‘seed’ level is a huge step to understanding how we can nurture the next generation of the UK’s global superstars.”

Michael Kill, CEO at NTIA, said: “Thousands of exceptional UK artists, including Oasis, Prodigy, and Ed Sheeran, began their artistic journeys by gracing the stages of local pubs and bars. We stand united with GigPig in their dedicated mission to convert every venue into a potential performance space, ensuring that each artist has the chance to refine their craft and garner support while introducing their unique musical expressions to the public. As we embark on this journey, it is crucial to comprehend the foundational role of music in our cultural tapestry and the artists’ path, all while identifying the key elements of success. Collaborating with seed musicians and DJs will revitalise the music sector, replenishing the talent pipeline and instilling confidence in an industry that suffered setbacks during the pandemic.”

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, said: “The UK live music scene is truly world class with on and off stage talent combining to make us one of only two net exporters of music globally.  Live music is an ecosystem with artists, venues and festivals of all sizes contributing to it creatively and economically.  This research puts a spotlight on those seed venues that will be the first stop for so many artists seeking to build a career and others happy to indulge their love of music and performance on a part time basis.  Crucially these figures highlight untapped demand and opportunity with the vast majority of seed venues keen to put on more live music.  That’s great news for customers, artists and their own tills.”

David Borrie, CEO at Pirate, added: “The Live Music Index’s exciting revelation about potential growth in the seed music scene, with 9 out of 10 venues planning to expand live music offerings in 2024, could be a game-changer for artists if it expands the gig circuit. This will not only bring important financial benefits but also increase accessibility for artists to perform for diverse audiences, whether that’s in clubs, pubs, bars or restaurants.

“This year, a focus for Pirate has been creating opportunities for the artists inside our studios to get their music heard through our Artist Hub, an activity we’ll be continuing into the new year. We’ve seen a huge uptake, both for larger-scale gigs like our Boomtown stage and our smaller in-studio events, Open Sessions and AUX, reflecting a strong appetite amongst artists to perform.”

Gemma Strath, Head of Marketing at PMT, said: “As we all know, music provides a wealth of benefits to each and every one of us and like GigPig, enabling our customers to play and listen to music, is incredibly important to us here at PMT. We look forward to continuing in our work and partnership with Gigpig to support the overall growth and vitality of the music industry.”

Nurturing the UK’s ‘seed’ music scene

Of course it’s not all rosy in the ‘seed’ music scene. More than half (56%) of venues said the profitability of hosting gigs is negatively impacted by the amount of time they have to spend sourcing and booking artists. Simplified booking process (48%), transparent pricing (47%) and access to a bigger artist talent pool (40%) would help ‘seed’ venues offer more live music and improve their bottom line, the survey found.

Although nine in ten (90%) ‘seed’ artists plan to gig more frequently over the next year, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed, including:

  • 49% have to get ready in poor or inadequate facilities;
  • 42% have payment issues after gigs; and
  • 27% experience rude or aggressive customers.

Meanwhile, a total of 96% of venue respondents reported their business would suffer as a result of removing live music from their offering.

Michael Forster added: “While there is much to be celebrated from the Live Music Index, we also need to recognise that more still needs to be done to nurture and grow the UK’s ‘seed’ music scene. That’s why we’re leveraging technology to empower venues and artists to connect at scale, helping to create thousands of new gigging opportunities in towns and cities across the UK every month.”

The Live Music Index report makes five suggestions to help more venues and artists benefit from the UK’s ‘seed’ music scene.These are to capitalise on the demand for live music, support musicians, discover new talent, cut booking admin and invest in infrastructure.    The consortium now plans to conduct a nationwide consultation of ‘seed’ venues and artists over the coming months, and plans to publish a white paper next year with recommendations for industry participants and policymakers. To download the full Live Music Index report, visit here.

For more information and interview or case study requests, contact Caspar Nixon, Head of Communications at GigPig, on 07731558233 / [email protected] or Kayley Worsley on 07888708601 / [email protected].

* A recent study by the Musicians Union found the average musician earns £20,700 per annum.

Artist case studies/quotes:

‘Seed’ music industry “substantially supports artists and has the potential to open many doors” – Editors band member Elliott Williams

Editors guitarist and keyboardist Elliott Williams has gigged on some of the world’s largest stages, touring the globe and headlining festivals alongside major household names including The Cure, Pink and Liam Gallagher. Having played in bands since his teenage years, Elliott is a “self-taught” musician with a passion for music which also sees him DJing in hospitality venues and further afield in his spare time away from the band.

Elliott said: “Live music has changed massively in my career and the ‘seed’ industry has to be celebrated and supported now – it’s the part of the market that can substantially support upcoming artists and has the potential to open many doors. Gigging in these venues and using a platform like GigPig also gives artists a sustainable income; which is incredibly important when we think about supporting the next generation in carving out successful and rewarding careers.”

Victoria Jane is a solo artist and host of BBC Radio One’s Sunday night R&B Soul show, who herself gigs at festivals and events around the UK. She said: “I’m not surprised to find out how much growth potential there is and what artists could earn. A lot of people think that they need to be a big star to make money in the music industry but you just don’t. There is a huge opportunity for growth and there will always be the demand for live music in hospitality venues. The emerging and full-time gigging artists gain invaluable experience and without the ‘seed’ industry they wouldn’t get the chance to thrive.”

About the Live Music Index

  • The research was commissioned by GigPig, in partnership with NTIA, LIVE and Pirate.com.
  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from CGA by Neilson IQ. 
  • Total sample size was 511 hospitality venues and 1,084 artists.
    • The artists sample consisted of instrumentalists (43%), vocalists & instrumentalists (40%), DJs (15%) and vocalists (7%).
    • The venue sample consisted of pubs (17%), bar (14%), restaurant (13%), event space (12%), hotel (11%), cafe (8%), live music venue (6%), food halls (5%), nightclub (5%), wedding venue (4%) and theatre (3%)
  • Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th September and 24th October 2023. The survey was carried out online and by phone. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About GigPig

GigPig is the UK’s fastest growing live music marketplace, leveraging the power of technology to make it easier for venues and artists to play more gigs every day of the week.

Its purpose-built platform gives venue managers and bookers unparalleled access to thousands of verified local artists (including the ability to see and preview their music), with all the tools they need to seamlessly book and manage live music; while offering artists a free platform to find, play and get paid for gigs, with complete control over when, where and how much they are paid to play.

About NTIA

NTIA is a leading Trade Association and Membership Organisation, we spotlight the Night Time Industry’s outstanding contributions globally and in the UK.

Over the years, the NTIA has achieved numerous milestones in advocating for the interests of the Night-Time Industry. Through our unwavering commitment, we have successfully influenced policy decisions, ensuring that the unique needs and concerns of our industry are considered and addressed. We have fostered collaboration between businesses and government entities, forging alliances that have led to positive change.

Our relentless efforts have resulted in increased recognition of the Night-Time Industry as a vital contributor to the economy, culture, and social fabric of our society.

We take immense pride in our achievements, which include substantial improvements in licensing regulations, the promotion of diverse talent, and the enhancement of safety and security measures.

Join us in illuminating the Night-Time Industry’s potential, where entrepreneurs thrive and unfair treatment is challenged and overcome.

About LIVE

LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) is the voice of the UK’s live music and entertainment business. LIVE members are a federation of 16 live music industry associations representing 3,159 businesses, over 34,000 British artists and 2,000 backstage workers.

LIVE works to ensure that the interests of live music in the UK are understood and communicated to Government, policymakers, regulators, the public and the wider music and entertainment industries.

LIVE was initially formed in response to the unprecedented pressure and devastation faced by the industry due to COVID-19 and is structured around four pillars: lobbying, economic analysis, messaging, and skills & diversity. Its work is driven by a series of sub committees on topics including festivals & outdoor events, venues, touring, people and sustainability. https://livemusic.biz/

About Pirate

Serving over 365,000 artists in 30+ locations, Pirate is the leading global music studio provider, open 24 hours a day.

Explore Pirate’s rehearsal, recording, and DJ studios in cities across the UK, US, and Germany— from New York to London, Berlin, and beyond.

More than a studio, Pirate also provides artist development through their Artist Hub, featuring networking events, masterclasses, and year-round gig opportunities in collaboration with industry partners.

About PMT

Our mission is to inspire and enable more people than ever to Play Music Today, offering the finest instruments and equipment at unbeatable price-checked value.

When you shop with us, you can be sure you will receive all the advice, back-up, and after-sales service you will need. Whatever level of experience musician you are.

Join our ‘Backstage’ loyalty programme where you will have instant access to news, competitions, exclusive discounts and so much more. But most of all, visit one of our world class music stores across the UK where your experience is our priority.

Our Reach

The NTIA is an influential organisation with a far-reaching impact on the entertainment and nightlife sectors.

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