Live music industry under major threat

In 2019 the music industry was worth £5.2bn to the British economy and the live music sector was breaking the £1bn barrier.

Revenues from different sectors in the music industry from Report Music by Numbers 2019 by Music UK

The chief executive of UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird communicated that in their  “latest survey (…) 70% of theatres or production companies, both, would run out of cash and go out of business by the end of this year. That was consistent whether you looked at London, the rest of the UK – whether you looked at subsidised organisations or commercial organisations. It was consistently around 70% for everybody.”

In an open letter, more than 1400 artists are calling on the UK government to come up with solutions against the total collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biggest names in rock and pop music such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Muse, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, Bring Me The Horizon, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Annie Lennox, The Cure, Phil Collins have decided to unite their voices and spread this message in the music world. They are warning that a lack of support and continued uncertainty is having a devastating impact in one of the world’s biggest live music market. 

In the joint letter, the artists say:

“UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. From world-famous festivals to ground-breaking concerts, the live music industry showcases, supports, and develops some of the best talent in the world – on and off-stage. As important as it is, our national and regional contribution isn’t purely cultural.

Artists urged their fans to post pictures and videos of the last shows they attended before lockdown using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. 

During the lockdown, artists have found alternative ways of sharing their craft such as livestreams and digital content. In regards to this matter, Bird also mentioned that the in the streaming model it’s not the musicians who are put first. Majority of them are surviving on hardship funds.

As the fourth largest music market in the world, the appeal notes that state support for live music is way behind many other European countries. France and Germany for example have used public money to kickstart their concert industries post-Covid19. 

The UK music industry is asking for more information concerning the reopening of venues, big and small and without social distancing. Once these venues reopen, businesses demand a full VAT exemption on ticket sales. In the meantimes, a comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance. The package should include a government backed insurance scheme  with rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen and financial support for lost box-office income. 

Artists are wondering what the landscape is going to look like on the other side of this crisis. Many of them are afraid that if the government doesn’t step up “vital aspects of the british culture will be lost forever” says Emily Eavis, the organiser of the Glastonbury festival. A long term impact could be indeed, devastating. 

(Featured Image credit: UK Music)

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