UK Music calls for Covid-19 music industry taskforce

UK Music calls for Covid-19 music industry taskforce

UK Music has called on the government to set up a new taskforce to revive the music industry as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the government’s proposals on easing the lockdown, newly-appointed UK Music chair Tom Watson welcomed the moves towards reopening businesses – but said public health remained the top priority.

He warned that the plans outlined by prime minister Boris Johnson added to uncertainty in the music industry about when different sectors would emerge from the lockdown.

Watson also highlighted how quarantine restrictions on passengers coming to the UK by air could have a drastic impact on overseas tours and the ability of British musicians and creators to travel. 

UK Music’s call for a taskforce responds to commitments set out in the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy concerning government plans to work with stakeholders who will be unable to resume activity until Step Three of its road map.

Last week, UK Music revealed the contribution of live music alone to the UK economy is set to drop in 2020 from an estimated £1.1 billion to just £200 million, describing it as a “catastrophic” blow to the industry.

With July earmarked as the first possible point at which the hospitality sector could return, live music events are effectively ruled out for the summer.

Overall, the UK music business sustains more than 190,000 jobs and contributed a total of £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy before Covid-19 struck. 

Around 72% of music industry workers are self-employed, including many who fall between the gaps of government support schemes.

Watson said: “The government is right to try to move towards kickstarting our economy, provided it can ensure protecting public health is paramount at all times. However, these latest proposals on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown are missing the clarity that the UK music industry so desperately needs.

“There is a risk the British music industry will be left behind as other countries come out of lockdown. We cannot afford that to happen to the UK’s world-leading music industry which is really suffering. We would urge the government to establish a formal taskforce with the music industry to ensure our businesses and events are Covid-19 secure - so our members can try to plan for the months ahead.

He added: “It is vital that while we all work towards getting the live industry under way again and record stores reopened, that all the government support packages are not cut back until we get back on our feet.”

UK Music said the government should provide a proposed date when the industry could consider reviving organised concerts, gigs and festivals. In Germany and Ireland, organisers have been told large events will not return until at least the end of August.

The trade body also called on the Chancellor to maintain the range of government support packages, such as the furlough scheme, support for the self-employed and business loans.

UK Music said the government should work with the entertainment retail sector to establish clear protocols and guidance to ensure record stores and instrument shops can be in the first wave of shops in June to return.

Click here to read the exclusive Music Week interview with Tom Watson.

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