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Let The Music Play Campaign Calls for Vital Financial Support from the Government

Today UK Music, an umbrella organisation of which the MU is a part, has launched a campaign highlighting the huge challenges the music industry is currently facing and possible solutions.

Published: 02 July 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Photo of music audience crowd, hands raised towards off-shot performer
The UK music industry contributes £5.2 billion to the UK's economy annually and sustains almost 200,000 jobs

The live music industry was one of the first to be hit by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and will be one of the last to get back on its feet.

Government support has been vital for so many in our sector. However, this support is now tapering to an end, and with no clear timeline on when the industry can return to full capacity, festivals and venues are struggling to survive.

Like other countries such as Germany and Australia, we need the Government to help the music industry, which contributes £5.2 billion to the economy annually and sustains almost 200,000 jobs, to ensure it remains world-leading following the damage caused by this pandemic.

The music industry has come together with a major campaign to highlight the huge challenges for the industry and some possible solutions. This campaign is called Let The Music Play. It has support right across the industry and is gathering huge public support too.

Our National Organiser for Live Performance, Dave Webster, welcomed the move:

“We are very happy to be supporting this initiative from the UK Music Live group. Let The Music Play is a direct call to the government, continuing to press home the point that Covid -19 has the ability to destroy the world class UK Music industry.

“Musicians will lose their livelihood. The statistics around loss of jobs, venues and revenues are staggering. The commercial music sector has stood proudly on its own feet up to now. Without Government help it will fall. Other countries such as Germany have stepped in and provided significant financial support to their live music industry – so should the UK.”

Read more to find out what we are asking for, why it is needed, what we are doing and what you can do.

Three key asks

Our three key asks of the Government are:

1. A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing

2. An immediate comprehensive business and employment support package* and access to finance

3. Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.

* The business and employment support package should include a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed and sole traders to prevent mass redundancies; rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen; an extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain to protect our ecosystem, large single event premises license fees for festivals to be rolled over to 2021 and financial support for lost box office income to support reopening and recovery, which would also support performers, songwriters, composers and their representatives.

Take action now

What we are doing and what can you do?

On Thursday 2 July the music industry is coming together to ask the Government to #LetTheMusicPlay.

Artists across the industry have joined together to sign a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for support, read the letter that was sent on UK Music’s website.

Please support the campaign by posting on social media with #LetTheMusicPlay and write to your local MP and ask them to call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP to support Let The Music Play ahead of his Summer Economic Update on Wednesday 8 July.

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Not sure what your MP's email is? You can find it via Parliament's 'Find your MP' tool. And you can still write to your MP if you have no fixed address. Find out more on Parliament's website.

Key Statistics on the current state of the industry

These are the key statistics that the campaign is based on:

  • The core live music industry stands to lose at least £900 million if it remains closed for the rest of 2020.
  • An estimated 30-50% of the live music industry’s workforce are facing unemployment, leading to a catastrophic loss of skills.
  • The UK is home to the most popular arenas in the world, yet they are set to lose five million visitors due to COVID-19.
  • Music festivals support 85,000 jobs, but with the entire summer cancelled, many are currently facing collapse with 59% redundancies expected across the sector without further support.
  • 90% of grassroots music venues are under threat of closure. We are supporting the Music Venue Trust’s call for a £50 million cash injection to ensure vital parts of the music industry do not go out of business.
  • The core live music industry generates £1.1 billion to the economy and impacts other parts of the economy including tourism to the tune of £4.5 billion.
  • Musicians earn an average of £23,000 a year, well below the national average. Their income is under further threat due to the cancellation of live music because performances represent a major of income for musicians, composers and songwriters.
  • Live music needs VAT relief on future ticket sales. It would save the live music industry up to £300 million each year and hugely help in its recovery.
  • Music plays an important role to the economy. UK concert-goers spend almost double on live music events than those in France and Italy combined.
  • The UK live music industry is the second biggest in the world but is at risk of falling behind. Following COVID-19 the German government has provided €150 million to its live music industry.
  • The UK is host to the world’s biggest and most famous greenfield festival – Glastonbury and the world’s most successful ticketed venue – The O2. Every year almost 30 million music fans attend thousands of festivals, arenas, concert halls and grassroots venues.
  • Live music events have a profound impact on local economies – Glastonbury generates £100m a year for local businesses and charities. Ed Sheeran’s 2019 gigs at Chantry Park generated £9m for the Ipswich economy.
  • The Government’s Job Retention Scheme has provided short term relief to the many live music businesses and employees yet plans to wind down the scheme risk putting livelihoods at risk without further support.
  • If the UK Government does not provide timely and well-targeted support to the music sector, the industry will lose core physical infrastructure, as well as musical talent technical sills, which will be impossible to replace, even if the industry is able to return to economic viability post-Covid-19.

See UK Music’s website for further updates on the Let The Music Play campaign, as they happen.

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