UK music industry leaders have warned against scaling back government assistance before the sector has had a chance to recover from COVID-19’s live events blackout and has suggested several measures to support the industry, such as tax breaks on ticket sales.
UK Live Music Group, the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, which is part of umbrella trade body UK Music, has warned that thousands of job losses will force the permanent closure of hundreds of business and see the live music industry lose more than £900m.
The organisation also noted that 82 per cent of grassroots venues in the UK are at immediate risk of closure and could be pushed over the edge without government support. It predicts that it will take a period of up to three or four years before the live music sector recovers to 2019 levels if aid is pulled.
UK Live Music Group chair Greg Parmley said: “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. 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.”
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.
A survey by the Association of Independent Festivals found 92 per cent of its members face collapse. Three quarters of the industry’s workforce is furloughed, and will need support until live music returns.
The group has urged on the government to implement several key measures to help the industry including on-going support measures, tax breaks on ticket sales, and clear guidance about when venues can reopen while ensuring public health remains the top priority.
UK Music chair Tom Watson said: “The music industry is really hurting. 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.
“If we are to nurture the next generation of British stars like Adele, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, we need the government to listen and act to ensure our music industry remains the envy of the world.”
The live music industry is calling for government help in a number of areas including:
• A continuation of all existing employment schemes and business support packages until the live music industry recovers
• VAT breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months so that festivals, concerts and live events can see a result of this support (certain cultural events and exhibits are already exempt)
• Additional financial support to ensure that landlords provide rent-free periods to grassroots music venues tenants
• Extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain, include service companies, sound and lighting suppliers
• Clear guidance about when professionally run, licensed events can resume, in order to allow operators to properly plan a recovery
• 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
Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association and artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “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.”
Prior to COVID-19, the music industry contributed £5.2bn a year to the UK economy in Gross Value Added (GVA) and sustained more than 190,000 jobs, UK Live Music Group claims. The live music sector alone contributed £1.1bn a year to the economy in 2018 in GVA.