Music tourists boosting Scotland's economy by £334 million

They are the eagerly-anticipated highlights of every music fan's year, worth braving mud-splattered fields and surviving in a flimsy pop-up tent for the chance to see music legends, emerging raw talent, or even a potential future prime minister addressing the crowd.

Music fans gather at the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green.
 Picture: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Music fans gather at the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green. Picture: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Now a report out today shows music tourism is a burgeoning business, helping generate £334 million for the Scottish economy last year – up 13 per cent on 2015.

Whether it is attending large festivals such as T in the Park at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire, concerts at the 13,000 capacity SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Groove Loch Ness, one of the UK’s newest dance festivals, or smaller intimate gigs in the underground cellars at night clubs such as Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire, distance is no object to many fans.

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UK Music’s “Wish You Were Here 2017” economic study shows a huge 31 per cent rise in the number of music tourists attending festivals and gigs- with 1.2 million fans attending live music events north of the Border.

Figures from the commercial music industry body report also highlights the vast majority of fans travelled from other parts of the UK or oversees – with just 38 per cent of live music event goers being Scottish.

Music tourists spent a total of £199m in Scotland – £126m on concerts and £73m on festivals.

As well as direct and indirect spending on items such as tickets, transport, meals and clothing, live music events support 3,928 full-time jobs in Scotland – as well as temporary work such as student bar staff and security workers. UK- wide, live music fans contributed £4 billion to the economy in 2016 – up 11 per cent from 2015 – with a record 30.9 million fans attending live British music events last year.

Michael Dugher, UK Music’s chief executive, said live music was a “tremendous success story” for the UK but that it was campaigning to save cash-strapped smaller venues and to safeguard artists from Brexit changes.

“Music fans poured into a huge range of festivals like T in the Park, the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in Inverness-shire, Glastonbury, the Great Escape in Brighton and Green Man in the Brecon Beacons,” he said.

“They also enjoyed the best British new talent in smaller venues which are a vital part of the live music industry. Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing, as well as our economy. It showcases our talent to the world and brings pleasure to millions every day.

“But this success is being put at risk. That’s why UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival.

“And, we will be pressing the government to make sure the impact of Brexit does not damage our export trade or make it harder for UK artists to tour abroad and for overseas acts to come here.”

Fiona Hyslop, MSP, culture secretary, said: “These figures show the music sector in Scotland going from strength to strength. The fact these numbers have increased so significantly is testament to the efforts of the sector to make Scotland such an attractive destination for music fans across the UK and the world.

“We continue to be committed to supporting music in Scotland.”