Here, in the second of our series of advice columns for the business, Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & Brit Awards takes a look at some of the challenges different sectors face, and the help they will need...
These are extraordinary and difficult times, and none of us know how events are going to unfold over the coming weeks. Our first concern is the wellbeing of our employees and our colleagues right across the business, so we are pleased that many music companies have swiftly put in place measures to help protect their people. In terms of the business impact, we are particularly concerned for the live sector and for the many smaller artists, labels, distributors and retailers whose livelihoods are already being hit. It’s likely that we will all know someone who may be impacted and we all need to look out for family, friends and neighbours.
Recorded music will be affected by the pandemic just as every other sector, though it is still too early to evaluate how far-reaching its effect will be. As a streaming-led business with a primarily digital supply chain, many labels may be insulated to some degree from the immediate disruption facing some other industries, but nonetheless the effects are likely to be significant. As the economic impact of COVID-19 ripples through the economy, some consumers may rein in discretionary spending. The physical side of the business will feel the effects more directly. Ultimately, reduced staffing and logistics constraints could affect the whole physical distribution chain, including home delivery. For the label sector overall, these effects by be mitigated to some degree by forecasts of an increase in consumption of home entertainment, as more people spend more time at home. But it is impossible to know how strong that effect will be, and it will not benefit all parts of the sector equally.
In terms of the business impact, we are particularly concerned for the live sector and for the many smaller artists, labels, distributors and retailers whose livelihoods are already being hit
Geoff Taylor, BPI
Promotion is an essential part of how our industry operates, and one obvious effect of COVID-19 will be its major impact on gigs, showcases, video shoots etc, while also disrupting the availability of artists/producers for recordings and promo work. Because marketing, promotion and much distribution now take place on social media and digital platforms, labels are generally well set up to use technology to continue their core business operations even working remotely, and artists will be similarly able to engage with their fanbases. But recorded music is so intertwined with the other parts of the business that we are deeply concerned about the serious impact on the live sector, where promoters, venues, festivals and artists face huge uncertainty over whether events will be able to proceed. We feel their pain and it’s important we all rally round.
It’s absolutely right that Government has made the public’s health and well-being a national priority as it introduces measures to battle COVID-19. But to avoid unnecessary permanent damage from the virus, it must also ensure that the urgent measures being introduced to support and protect the High Street are workable and easy to access. We welcomed the announcement by the Chancellor of a business rates holiday for retailers, new grants and sick pay support for SME’s, and a major new business loan guarantee scheme to prevent business failures. Despite the Government’s clarification, many businesses remain exposed to substantial business interruption that they cannot control, and without adequate comfort that they will be covered by insurance or Government protection.
Music’s unique power to connect us, even at a distance, to reduce feelings of isolation, to cheer our hearts and to soothe our minds, will be even more valuable in these troubled times. And the music industry will pull together. Labels are already working to help retailers cope with the challenges they face and the BPI will be there to support all of its members as they show their inventiveness and adaptability in rising to this new challenge.
You can read the first part in our series of advice columns for the business by leading charity Help Musicians UK here.
* For the very latest music industry updates about the Covid-19 outbreak click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.