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UK live music’s Cliff Edge report highlights COVID devastation

The UK live music industry – which was worth £4.5bn to the UK economy in 2019 – will see revenue fall by 81 per cent compared to 2019 as takings have been almost zero since March, according to a new report.

The ‘UK Music At A Cliff Edge’ report, written by the chief executive of Media Insights Consulting Chris Carey and industry consultant Tim Chambers on behalf of ‘LIVE’ (Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment), highlights how the sector is among those worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic after being among the first to close and very likely to be the last to fully reopen.

Following the lockdown in March and the ongoing UK Government restrictions on public assembly, event capacities and operational curfews, many of those working within the live music sector (ranging from artists, booking agents, promoters, venues, festivals and the various support agencies and their staff) have received no income at all.

The report anticipates that 50 per cent of permanent roles will be lost by the end of the year (26,100 jobs), while temporary and freelance roles have already been decimated.

In 2019, live music supported 210,000 FTEs including 52,000 full time, salaried roles and the report notes that 76 per cent of live music employees were supported by the furlough scheme, as of August 31.

The Cliff Edge report also states that early analysis of the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund suggests that 10,000 FTE roles will be saved.

The first two rounds of funding have recently been awarded, with approximately £333m awarded to date and £88m going to music, including £65m to LIVE members.

Most recently the ending of the furlough scheme and the sector’s exclusion from the Extended Jobs Support (new furlough) is a hammer blow when considered with the new tier system of lockdowns and further restrictions on the industry restarting.

The report states: “In effect the Government is now withdrawing support for those companies and jobs it does not consider viable in the short term, while also limiting the ability of the live music industry to relaunch.

“Similarly, the devastating impact on the live music ecosystem would mean that some artists, promoters, venues, and festivals who fall away at this time may never return to the industry – which was previously a great British success story.”