The coronavirus crisis has already cost the music economy more than £50 million, according to research by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC).
A survey of over 150 music managers and artists detailed the impact of 2,100-plus cancelled shows, delayed campaigns and lost earnings, with the £50m figure including £3.1m lost by music managers in commissions.
While most of the losses relate to the live business, the impact on recordings, merch and brand deals has also been significant. Losses in excess of £68m are predicted if shows are cancelled over the next six months, raising "grave concerns" for the commercial music sector’s longer-term sustainability.
Artists and music makers are faced with a short term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe
In response, the MMF and FAC are calling on larger UK music businesses – particularly in the recorded sector – to protect the "longer-term viability" of artists and music makers by implementing measures including “recoupment holidays”, crisis funding, emergency advances and repurposing of “black box” revenues. According to UK Music data, 72% of the music business workforce is self-employed.
MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick, CEO said: “Artists and music makers are faced with a short term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe. This MMF and FAC survey is only a snapshot, but it highlights that millions of pounds have already been lost through cancelled shows and campaigns. With Government support for freelancers not kicking in until June we need the biggest record labels, music publishers and licensing organisations to act. We need them to do more, and we need them to do so now.”
A number of emergency funding initiatives have been launched in recent days, including those from Arts Council England, Help Musicians UK, the Musicians' Union, PRS For Music and Spotify. While welcoming the schemes, the MMF and FAC have pointed to the comprehensive support packages offered in other European countries.
German music licensing society GEMA has launched a €40m crisis fund for its songwriter members, the Swedish Government has announced a cultural response fund of €45m, while the Norwegian government has also earmarked significant new funding of €25m for their cultural sector.
David Martin, GM, FAC, said: "It is evident that the artist and creator community is suffering enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our survey only demonstrates a proportion of the actual losses, the numbers highlight the acute challenge facing artists and the existential threat that this presents to our wider industry. We need all parts of the global music community to do their bit to support those that are most in need, and those with the greatest resource must do their fair share to provide this support."
The organisations are calling for the following four measures to be considered as a matter of urgency:
Support for artists and songwriters: major labels, major music publishers and others who can afford it should offer artists and songwriters a “recoupment holiday” during a defined short-term period and pay streaming royalties straight through music makers regardless of the state of their balance. We would also like these companies to consider additional advances and moving contractual deadlines where possible.
Crisis Support: Further direct contributions to emergency support funds for artists, musicians and their teams most of whom are freelance or micro-business. This will be essential to tide people over until government support comes through.
Redistribution of “Black Box” revenues: MMF & FAC fully support calls by the Ivors Academy for music licensing societies to divert “unattributable” royalty collections into an emergency hardship fund. The estimated size of such “black box” revenues was illustrated in the MMF’s $ong Royalties Guide.
PRO advances: Music licensing societies should also consider making more accessible the advances on performer and composer royalties as loans against future payments. This would be of particular assistance to self-releasing or non-contracted artists, musicians and performers.