UK Live Music Group calls for urgent Government action amid 'catastrophic' coronavirus impact

UK Live Music Group calls for urgent Government action amid 'catastrophic' coronavirus impact

The UK Live Music Group has warned thousands of music industry jobs will be lost to the coronavirus crisis without urgent Government action.

The industry body, which is part of UK Music, said more than £900 million is expected to be wiped from the £1.1 billion the live music sector was expected to contribute to the domestic economy this year, adding it could be three to four years before the business recovers to 2019 levels. 

More than 550 grassroots music venues – 82% of the total – are at immediate risk of closure, while a survey by the Association Of Independent Festivals found 92% of its members face collapse. Three quarters of the industry’s workforce is furloughed, and the UK Live Music Group warned that cutting back Government assistance before the music industry had a chance to recover would have a “catastrophic” impact on the sector and the music business as a whole. 

“The live music industry has collapsed as a result of coronavirus and it will be one of the last sectors to emerge from this crisis," said UK Live Music Group chair Greg Parmley. "Removing existing support – such as the furlough scheme and help for self-employed – before live music resumes will trigger thousands of redundancies, and without additional support, the sector may never recover.

“Live music powers a huge eco-system of managers, artists, agents, technicians and suppliers, who have no income when there is no live music. The effects of this crisis are faced by the entire music industry – labels, publishers, composers and more don’t function without live performance.”

Parts of the sector are effectively on life support and will need a sustained package of help from the Government to survive

Tom Watson 

UK Music

The group is calling on the Government to implement several key measures to help the industry including ongoing support measures, tax breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months, and clear guidance about when venues can reopen in order to allow operators to properly plan a recovery. It is also asking for clarity around social distancing which takes into account the range of different venue sizes, some of whom may not be able to reopen until measures are further relaxed.

“The music industry is really hurting," said UK Music chair Tom Watson. "Parts of the sector are effectively on life support and will need a sustained package of help from the Government to survive.

“The music industry has joined forces and is doing its best to look after its people through a fantastic network of hardship funds. 

“As the world slowly emerges from the international lockdown, the UK cannot afford to leave behind its economy-boosting music industry. We’ll need more support from Government to survive and remain a long term contributor to the economy." 

In addition, the UK Live Music Group is appealing for business rate relief to be extended to the entire live music supply chain, include service companies, sound and lighting suppliers.

The Royal Albert Hall's artistic and commercial director Lucy Noble, chair of the the National Arenas Association, added: “The Government must not abandon the music industry which is such a vital part of our economy, culture and social fabric.

“The support for our world-leading industry must continue until we have a chance to get back on our feet.”

Before the impact of coronavirus, the music industry contributed £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy in Gross Value Added (GVA) and sustained more than 190,000 jobs. The live music sector alone contributed £1.1 billion a year to the economy in 2018 in GVA.

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