Report outlines strategy to restart live music industry
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
uk-musicThe report outlines a strategy to protect and support the live music industry
UK - Music industry organisation UK Music has published its Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report, which outlines a strategy to protect and support the live music industry so it is ready to restart when safe to do so later this year.
The report sets out the economic, social and cultural value of live music, along with a blueprint for reviving live music after COVID-19 forced the effective closure of the sector last March.
In particular, it warns that the lack of COVID cancellation insurance available is the biggest barrier to major events happening in 2021 and calls for Government to introduce an insurance scheme as it did for the film and TV sector.
It was published ahead of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry into music festivals. At Tuesday’s inquiry, Sacha Lord, co-founder of Manchester's Parklife Festival, told MPs, "If the government don't help with insurance, then the smaller festivals are going to drop away."
He added that vaccinations and mass testing were essential to ensure the future of live music. "Social distancing does not work at any of these events," he said. "It's a festival. You just cannot put social distancing in place, so we are anticipating that we will be operating at 100% [capacity]."
The UK Music report’s publication is coupled with an S.O.S call from the trade body to “Save Our Summer 2021” with the campaign hashtag #SaveOurSummer2021.
It comes amid mounting calls on the Government for clarity from organisers of world-leading events like Glastonbury, grassroots venue operators and the music industry’s workforce of almost 200,000 about how live music can be swiftly and safely restarted.
The music industry has worked hard to make event spaces as safe as they can possibly be. This includes launching testing pilots to be able to hold mass events safely, working with government to develop guidance for how to hold events safely, and looking at new ventilation and air purification systems that would dramatically reduce the risk of transmission. But there is no certainty about when the industry will be allowed to hold mass events once again.
While the Government’s £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund has been welcome in supporting the sector through the worst of the pandemic, the live music sector urgently needs to be able to plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season, says the report.
With its pre-COVID contribution to the UK economy of £5.8bn, the music industry can play a leading role in galvanising the UK’s post-pandemic recovery strategy when the time comes - but it needs time and support to prepare.
The economic benefits of festivals are spread across the whole of the UK and they are vital to supporting local economies and regional growth. Festival attendance grew in 2019 - up by 6% to 5.2min 2019 from 4.9m in 2018, according to UK Music’s figures.
However, the pandemic resulted in a 90.2% drop in revenue for festivals in 2020 with fears of redundancies of up to 50% in the workforce, according to the Association of Independent Festivals.
The report states, “When live music suffers, the whole music industry suffers. The impact has been felt across the industry. Up to 80% of music creators’ income in 2020 will be lost. There are fears up to 71% of musicians are either actively considering leaving the sector or are unsure if they will continue according to a survey by the Musicians’ Union.
“The Music Venue Trust estimated that COVID-19 restrictions reduced capacities by 75% at Grassroots Music Venues, cut trading hours by 50 to 75%, limited both performances and performers, and introduced heavy additional costs on venues.”
UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight. Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring - but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.
“UK Music is putting forward a clear plan for recovery: what we need to do to get the live performance sector back up on its feet again in 2021. But the clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty.
“With the right support the live music industry can be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery and play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural revival - but there will need to be a concerted effort from industry and the Government together if we are to let the music play and save our summer.”
In response, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "We know these are challenging times for the live events sector and are working flat out to support it. Our £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund has already seen more than £1bn offered to arts, heritage and performance organisations to support them through the impact of the pandemic, protecting tens of thousands of creative jobs across the UK.”
(Jim Evans)

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