Music case: Musical heritage tourism


The UK has made an outstanding contribution to popular music culture on a global scale, fostering hundreds of iconic acts and classic artists loved the world over. UK youth culture has given birth to punk, dance and pop music, and UK festivals and venues attract millions of music fans each year. The economic contribution of all of this
should not be understated.

In the summer of 2016, the music industry trade body UK Music published its latest in-depth Measuring Music study that showed the sector's contribution to the UK economy was worth £4.1bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2015. The music industry also generated £2.2bn in exports and accounted for 119,000 full-time jobs.

The latest research from another of UK Music’s annual reports, Wish You Were Here 2016, found there were 10.4 million music tourists who attended a festival or gig in 2015 (up 13 per cent year on year), generating £3.7 billion spending in the process.

The music industry has also identified huge opportunities for the development of music heritage tourism, which could provide further economic and cultural value. UK Music’s Imagine report looked in more detail at the role of music heritage in driving tourism, and the potential heritage resources that could be marketed to music fans (see below).

Music Heritage Tourism


It argues that if visitors to The Beatles Story and The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour were to increase in line with the government’s targeted growth in international visitors to the UK, these attractions would have over 350,000 annual visitors.

This report invites us to ‘imagine’ what it would mean to the city of Liverpool and to the tourism and music industries more generally for this potential to be realised. With its rich background Liverpool is clearly a leading centre for music heritage tourism but there are many other locations which could capitalise on their contributions.

Hull, the 2017 City of Culture, will draw thousands of visitors during this art extravaganza but it is already the home of The Museum of Club Culture, the world’s only museum dedicated to clubbing. Additionally it boasts a proud musical heritage as the stomping ground for The Housemartins, Everything But The Girl and David Bowie’s Ziggy-era band The Spiders From Mars.

Coventry and Sheffield – with their history of producing innovative musical acts and genres – are also ripe for development as musical heritage destinations.

The report has identified steps that could be taken to support musical heritage tourism, and notes the efforts made by public institutions such as the British Library (which drew 400,000 visitors to an exhibition of original Beatles lyrics) and the music industry (eg the PRS For Music Heritage Awards) as resources which could be expanded.


Related: Download infographics on the international success of the UK music industry here.