The UK’s live music industry is experiencing a “devastating rise in lost income” according to a snap industry survey from trade group LIVE.
The group says that up to 50% audience no-shows and widespread cancellations have created a ‘Christmas of misery’ which is set to carry into at least the opening months of 2022. The Government has introduced COVID pass requirements at events in England in December, while the Welsh Government has said clubs will close from December 27, and new restrictions are in place in Scotland.
Money is being lost as a result of staggering numbers of event cancellations, with 70% of organisers forced to cancel some shows due to take place last week. Jessie Ware, Steps, Paul Weller, Coldplay and Lil Nas X are among the artists forced to cancel due to the virus.
Cancellations also extend into next year, with 50% of venues having already cancelled shows for January and February – some as many as 10 each – and more expected to follow. Given that venues across the UK will stage an average of 16 live music shows each month, this represents a significant number.
These losses are compounded by drastic falls in ticket sales, with expected sales for 2022 live music falling by over a third in the last few weeks. The drop – which has taken place at one of the busiest times of year for ticket sales – comes as individual organisers haemorrhage money from audience dropouts, which stand at up to 50% for some venues.
LIVE said an 80-90% turnout is required in order to make live events financially viable, meaning the majority of events still taking place are doing so at a huge loss to organisers.
Greg Parmley, LIVE chief executive said: “These statistics paint a bleak picture for the sector which is why it’s absolutely vital that the Government provides additional support immediately. We need urgent assistance to avoid the live music industry running into the ground, forcing venues to shut up shop and creating a Christmas of Misery with job losses, and freelancers and artists without work.
“We also face a double-whammy as next year’s sales take a nosedive, meaning organisers do not have the cash needed to cover soaring costs as they struggle to stay afloat while operating at a loss.”
LIVE, on behalf of more than 3,100 businesses in the sector, is now calling for “urgent financial support” from Government. This includes scrapping the planned increase in VAT, and institute an emergency reduction back to 5% during the worst of the Omicron wave.
The group also wants short-term financial support for the sector as it battles with the immediate impacts of cancellations and the cancellation of business rates well into 2022, and defer any loan repayments.
Finally, LIVE wants the Government reinsurance scheme to cover the risks organisers face – in particular cancellation due to an artist getting Covid or the reintroduction of social distancing.
The survey results from LIVE come after a spate of cancellations of sporting fixtures and theatre performances due to COVID infections among teams and performers.
Five Premier League matches have been postponed this weekend, with some games called off during the week.
Meanwhile, Denmark announced on Friday that it would close cinemas, theatres, museums and other public venues in an attempt to curb record-high COVID-19 cases.