The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Hard Times - One third of musicians were still earning nothing after restrictions on live events were lifted this summer, according to UK charity Help Musicians. The music industry is one of the last sectors to recover from the pandemic, it said, with 83% of professional musicians unable to find regular work. The findings are based on a survey of 929 musicians in August. Almost nine in 10 were earning less than £1,000 per month, and 22% were considering giving up music altogether.
Restrictions on live music were removed in England and Wales in July, and Scotland in August, after Covid had kept the live music industry shut for most of the pandemic. Help Musicians said it had seen a 60% increase in people getting in contact for mental health support, with one in eight saying they were experiencing a mental health problem that was preventing them from returning to work.
During the pandemic, the charity distributed £18m to 19,000 struggling musicians. "We recognise that for some musicians, it will take a long time to rebuild and the team at Help Musicians will continue to be available to those musicians who find themselves in real crisis over the months ahead," chief executive James Ainscough said.
Award Categories - Dua Lipa and J Hus will go down in history as the last stars to win best female and male at the Brit Awards. That's because, from next year, the two categories will be combined into a single prize for best British artist, organisers have said. Artists like Sam Smith and Will Young had previously called for the change, saying the current system excludes non-binary artists.
The Brits have awarded prizes along gender lines since they began in 1977. Organisers promised to review the way the prizes in 2019, but kept the male and female categories intact until now. In a statement announcing the change, they said the move was about "celebrating artists solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them".
The shift will also be reflected in the international category, where the best international male and female awards - won by The Weeknd and Billie Eilish this year - will be replaced by a single best international artist prize.
Big Winners - BTS were the big winners at Sunday's American Music Awards, picking up three prizes including artist of the year. The South Korean band also won best pop group for the third year in a row, and best pop song for their chart-topping dance anthem, Butter. "This whole thing is a miracle," said singer RM. "Seriously, we'll never take this for granted."
Taylor Swift won best female pop artist for the sixth time, also taking home best pop album for Evermore. Those two prizes brought Swift's total tally of American Music Awards to 34, extending her lead as the artist with the most wins. Michael Jackson is in second place with 26 wins. She also previously won artist of the decade in 2019.
Oliviers Return - The Olivier Awards will return to the Royal Albert Hall next year, having last been held virtually in 2020. The ceremony will be held on 10 April, 2022, with further details to be announced. A teaser video has been released for the event next year.
Wait and See - Theatregoers are showing reluctance to book for festive productions, with a third of respondents to a survey stating they are “waiting to see what happens with Covid” before committing to seeing a show.
The findings are from interim research by data analysts Purple Seven and consultancy firm Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, which have been tracking recovery in audience recovering since March this year, in association with the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.
The latest findings from its UK Performing Arts Survey – a rolling poll of audiences at 40 participating performing arts venues – show the scale of hesitancy among theatregoers in booking for Christmas shows. Of the 513 who responded, a third said they were waiting to see how the Covid situation changed before committing to book.
MHM director Medwen Roberts said: “We know that more regular and recent theatregoers are more likely to complete our weekly confidence tracker, so the results are biased towards loyal audiences. Venues should consider the needs of their older and cautious bookers. If they have some quieter performances, we would recommend proactively managing their inventory to allow social distancing in at least part of the house. It will then be crucial to make sure ‘hesitant’ previous bookers know these new seats are available.”
Farewell - Mick Rock, the photographer who took well-known images of stars like David Bowie and Queen, has died at the age of 72. Once dubbed "the man who shot the 70s", Rock also worked with the likes of Iggy Pop, Blondie, Lou Reed. A statement on his Twitter page read: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock has made the Jungian journey to the other side."

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