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I don’t need to point out that this crisis has had a catastrophic effect on every aspect of our profession. For many, the personal impact of Covid-19 goes far beyond the risk to health as previously busy musicians see their work fall off a cliff with no indication of when normal life might resume.

Whilst the immediate concern has to be doing everything we can to stay safe and well and cope with the seismic financial loss, it’s also important to plan for a recovery and make sure that the essential workplaces – studios and live music venues – survive and resume their business as soon as is practicable.

To that end, the MU is supporting initiatives from the Music Producers Guild (MPG) and the Music Venues Trust (MVT) in calling for the government to put in place fiscal packages aimed at helping these vital resources survive and emerge from the crisis.

Business rates holiday to support studios

The MPG has asked for a business rates holiday claiming that, for mid-sized studios, business rates constitute 7% of their turnover. The MPG is also calling for cash grants to help the studios pay their rent and fixed costs.

Rents typically comprise 36% of costs and at a time when the studios are receiving no income, making these payments indefinitely is simply not feasible.

Most recording studios are located in city centres where rent and business rates are high. Large-scale multi-room recording studios are an integral part of our world-class film industry and normally would make 50-90% of their income from film and television soundtracks.

The impact on the UK music profession of the permanent closure of these studios is incalculable.

Protecting music venues

The MVT is calling on the music industry to create a £1M fighting fund to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of grassroots music venues across the UK. It claims that over 550 grassroots music venues remain under immediate threat of closure with the potential permanent loss of 5,000 jobs.

The MVT has prepared a report for Government that indicates that the venues under threat need close to £20M in short term interventions in order to prevent losses and liabilities. Furthermore, the report claims that in the longer term, a further £30M is needed to prevent what it otherwise sees as inevitable venue closures.

The long term health of the UK music industry and the position it has occupied on the world stage is dependent on an accessible, widespread grassroots music venue circuit, when venues close, they rarely reopen so this work is vital.

Getting the industry up and running again

Nobody knows how long we will have to cope with the current lockdown, but the longer it goes on the greater the risk that we will lose the essential resources musicians need in order to resume their careers.

Of course, the UK is not alone in having to contemplate this bleak future, the whole music world is enduring a prolonged period of inactivity and consequent loss of income.

As in all areas of work, many businesses will not survive the coronavirus crisis. Our task is to try to minimise the fallout in our profession and work towards getting the industry up, running and excelling again as soon as it is practicable and safe to do so.

Where to go for immediate financial support

If you’re in need of immediate financial relief, would like some sources for financial advice, or want to know more about the Government’s financial assistance schemes, see our Financial Support page.

Photo ofHorace Trubridge
Thanks to

Horace Trubridge

Horace Trubridge is a General Secretary of the Musicians' Union since 2017. Horace joined the Musicians’ Union as Music Business Advisor in 1990. He became London Official in 1997, negotiating for members at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and West End theatres. He was appointed Assistant General Secretary in 2003 overseeing the work of the Union’s national officials in all areas of the industry. His directorships include UK Music, ERA and PPL, and he was appointed a Governor of the BRIT School in 2015.

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Brexit Lobbying Update

An update following the debate held in Westminster Hall on enabling visa and work permit free travel for musicians in the EU, with renewed calls from MPs for the Government to sort out remaining issues for musicians.

Published: 23 November 2021

Read more about Brexit Lobbying Update