Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Business: The Economy
Music is sweet for the UK economy
George Michael: Part of the UK music industry's success story
Fears that the British music industry is in decline have been eased by a survey which shows it is worth more than £3bn to the UK economy.
There is concern that these figures could be hit in the future by the unauthorised downloading of music from the Internet.
But reports of the death of the British music industry, most notably from Creation Records guru Alan McGee, appear to be greatly exaggerated, if the figures in Tuesday's report are any reflection of the industry's health.
The survey, by financial advisors KPMG, shows that total domestic spending on music in the UK was £3.7bn in 1997/8.
Its 15% share of the world music market makes it the UK's third largest export in terms of global share, behind malt whisky and Formula One.
The report also showed:
"This report now confirms that the UK music industry has an economic status to match its cultural status.
The report was commissioned by the National Music Council, which promotes music in the UK.
Council chairman Russell Jones said despite the healthy figures, the industry still needed support in the battle for future markets.
He said: "The Government has a key role in recognising the needs of the music business in relation to export promotion, encouraging equal competition, helping identify the threat posed by piracy, and ensuring these issues can be addressed through the enforcement of strong international copyright legislation."
More than 210m albums were bought in the UK in 1998, with George Michael's Ladies & Gentlemen topping the sales charts.
The music industry itself has latched on to the potential of selling music over the Net.
But with an increase in unofficial sites offering MP3 files, and the arrival of portable MP3 Walkman-style players, organisations such as the Musicians Union and the British Phonographic Industry are calling for tighter controls over the medium.
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