The Big Survey 2022

The amount of data collected in the Big Survey 2022 of Making Music members is huge – and incredibly useful.

Thanks (and apologies) to the 913 respondents who valiantly completed 50+ questions to paint a vivid picture of our membership and leisure-time music groups. Those 913 groups represented 23% of our membership, a robust foundation for our analyses and conclusions.

Member groups also – helpfully – responded in numbers roughly reflecting the make-up of membership in terms of vocal groups (54%), instrumental groups (36%) and volunteer promoters (10%). 

Some statistics about Making Music members and leisure-time music groups in brief:

  • In the last 20 years, Making Music membership has more than doubled (1,931 in 2001 to 3,972 in 2022).
  • Vocal group numbers have increased by more than 75% (to 2,144) - but now make up a smaller percentage (54%) of overall membership than they did in 2001 (63%).
  • Instrumental group member numbers have nearly quadrupled, so they have gone from being 19% of members to 36%.
  • Promoter group numbers have increased by 14%, but now only make up 10% of the overall membership, down from nearly a fifth (18%) of members 20 years ago.

What are ‘promoting groups’?

These are groups of volunteers coming together to programme a season of events presenting professional musicians. They are promoters, but volunteer promoters, and they stage, for instance, a series of concerts in their local area over a period of months, or a festival over a shorter timeframe. Some examples are Norwich Chamber Music and the Herne Hill Music Festival

And ‘performing groups’?

These are groups of hobby musicians who come together to sing or play; they are usually led by a music professional they engage; 91% of them are small charities, run by a group of volunteers, e.g. a committee, who are also performers in that group. Most of them also put on their own concerts – booking the venue, promoting the event, selling the tickets – though an increasing percentage perform at other organisations’ events, e.g. charity fundraisers, civic occasions, festivals, etc.

How many leisure-time music groups are there in the UK?

The only available data comes from Our Creative Talent, a 2008 study by Arts Council England and the Department for Culture Media and Sport and refers to England. Extrapolating to the whole of the UK based on population data gives an estimated 13,800 self-governed volunteer-run music groups in the UK. Making Music represents around 29% of the total number of such groups.

Total economic value of leisure-time music groups

Including all groups (not just Making Music members) the sector is worth £180m annually, not counting secondary economic impact, e.g. night-time economy, venues, hospitality, transport, music and accessories, teaching, promotional materials, music professionals etc.

Making Music members spend £25m a year on 50,000 engagements of professional musicians as Music Directors, vocal or instrumental soloists, music creators or arrangers, workshop leaders, chamber ensembles, entire bands or orchestras to accompany choirs, accompanists (keyboards) and organists, instrumental players like an orchestra or section leaders, instrumental deputy, etc...

More about groups

Income brackets of Making Music members – 2022:

  • Less than £7.2k: 65% 
  • £7.2k-14.5k: 18%
  • 14.5k-£21k: 7% 
  • £21k-£31k: 4%
  • £31k-£100k 5%
  • More than £100k: 2%

Membership (participants) in Making Music member groups – 2022: 

  • Average membership: 62 per group
  • 67% (two-thirds) have 50 or fewer participants
  • 28% have 50-100 participants
  • 5% have more than 100 participants

Age of Making Music member groups – 2022:

  • Average age: 47 years
  • Oldest: 195 years old
  • Youngest: 1 year old

Survey methodology

This was an online survey In October 2022 sent out to Making Music member groups, at the time numbering 3,972 in total. There were two separate surveys:

  • one for our performing groups which received 813 responses, representing 23% of Making Music performing groups; this had 59 questions
  • one for our promoter groups which received 100 responses, representing 24% of Making Music promoter groups; this had 49 questions.

Versions of this survey have been running since 2001, so in some instances, the reports can compare how groups have changed over 20 years. Some questions have changed.

…and what does the Big Survey 2022 tell us?

It yields information on a range of topics, these are broken down into a series of reports and summaries. 

  Summary Report
Income Summary on group income Report on group income
Expenditure Summary on group expenditure Report on group expenditure

Have you used this data for your own music group? Let us know by emailing us at