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170,000 UK live music jobs lost by end of 2020

More than 26,000 permanent jobs will be lost in the live music industry before the end of the year if government support is withdrawn, new research published today (21 October) reveals.

In addition, 144,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, including self-employed and freelance workers, will have effectively ceased to exist by the end of 2020, the new report, UK live music: At a cliff edge, shows.

Revenue into the industry has been almost zero since March, with a fall of 81% in 2020 compared to 2019 – four times the national UK average, where reductions across industries run at around 20%.

At a cliff edge – conducted by Chris Carey and Tim Chambers for Media Insight Consulting on behalf of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), an umbrella group representing the UK live music industry – also reveals the positive contribution made by the Culture Recovery Fund, which has offered a lifeline to a range of businesses, but whose impact is tempered by 80% of employees still being reliant on the furlough scheme, which ends this month.

The report’s findings include:

“This research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated”

Following the lockdown in March, and the ongoing government restrictions on venues and events, many of those working within the live music sector have received no income at all. The new tier-two and three restrictions put further limitations on the sector reopening, while the sector is currently excluded from the government’s extended Job Support Scheme.

With recent indications from the prime minister that severe restrictions could be in place for a further six months, meaning a full year with next-to-no live music or revenues, the associations represented by Live – including the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association (CPA), Music Managers Forum (MMF), National Arenas Association (NAA), Production Services Association (PSA) and Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are calling on the government to ensure the live business can benefit from new support measures.

Phil Bowdery, CPA chair, comments: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are currently caught in a catch 22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end. If businesses can’t access that support soon, then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”

“Those who have often found themselves overlooked and left behind throughout the last six months are the freelancers and self-employed – the people up and do the country that we rely on to bring us the live experiences we love,” adds PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry and government needs to recognise that these crucial individuals need support.”

““Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry”

Economist Chris Carey, who co-authored the report, says: “From the artists on stage, to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”

The report includes sector-specific data on artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues, festivals, ticketing companies and technical suppliers, as well as case studies from some of those affected and comment from industry leaders.

“The Culture Recovery Fund is a help, especially to grassroots music venues,” continues Carey. “However, larger companies are going to be hit harder, and without ongoing government investment in protecting this industry, the UK will lose its place as a cultural leader in live entertainment.

“Moreover, the skills we lose in this time will significantly hinder the sector’s ability to recover and return to driving economic growth and supplying UK jobs.”

Download the report here.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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UK live industry cautiously welcomes £1.57bn aid

British live music industry leaders have said they stand ready to work closely with government on the details of its £1.57 billion culture rescue fund, but cautioned that the whole live music ecosystem must be protected.

The financial aid package of emergency grants and loans must also be complemented by an exemption in VAT for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme for shows and a conditional date for reopening, they say.

Sunday’s announcement about the support package followed the hugely successful #LetTheMusicPlay day, which saw 1,500 artists write directly to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and tens of millions of fans posting online about the importance of live music, a £4.5bn sector that employs 210,000 people.

The campaign, coordinated by members of the UK Live Music Group and Concert Promoters’ Association (CPA), with additional support from UK Music, trended at No1 globally on Twitter and attracted media coverage around the world.

“Thousands of artists, venues, festivals, managers, agents, promoters and production crew came together for #LetTheMusicPlay, and we must ensure that all of them receive the support that they so desperately need,” says Phil Bowdery, chair of the CPA.

“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives”

“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives.”

Live music was one of the first industries to close as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and concerts are not expected to return in full force until well into 2021. According to member research compiled by live music associations over the six month period between October 2020 and March 2021, the operating costs of the broader live music sector will be £298.8million. This figure is in addition to the £47m required by grassroots music venues, called for by Music Venue Trust.

“The government’s £1.57bn package for the arts is welcome, but we lack detail of how funding will be allocated for music,” comments Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum. “The thousands who work and perform in our sector desperately require comprehensive support if their jobs and livelihoods are to be sustained.”

Kilimanjaro Live MD Stuart Galbraith, co-chair of the CPA, adds: “We are ready to work on the details of the scheme, and our other requests – a VAT exemption for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead, and a timeline for safe reopening without social distancing – at the government’s convenience.

“We look forward to this ongoing discussion shortly.”


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Social distancing key issue as UK working group meets

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is the latest industry association to raise concerns over the impact of social distancing on the events industry, ahead of the first meeting of a newly formed UK events and entertainment working group tomorrow (28 May).

The working group, part of a series of sectoral subgroups convened by the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) about recreation and leisure, is comprised of industry organisations including the NTIA, the Concert Promoters Association (CPA), the National Arenas Association (NAA) and the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

The group will be tasked with developing guidance for the sector and acting as a conduit between industry and ministers.

The NTIA’s particular concern is around the financial viability of venues reopening under strict social distancing measures. The organisation calls for a “more pragmatic approach” that would allow businesses to generate their own guidelines for reopening and mitigate risk on a case by case basis.

The group will be tasked with developing guidance for the sector and acting as a conduit between industry and ministers

The statement comes as the Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts and cultural centre in London, warns that it will be forced to close until April 2021 without further government support.

The centre forecasts a best-case scenario of facing losses of £5.1 million by the end of the 2020/2021 financial year.

The viability of socially distanced shows divided panellists on the recent IQ Focus The Venue’s Venue: Building Back panel. Lucy Noble, chair of the NAA and director of the Royal Albert Hall said that social distancing was not part of the plan for reopening, with measures such as temperature checks, contact tracings and disinfectant misting more likely to be employed.

“We are suggesting to the [UK government] how we can operate,” said Noble. “If they are not giving us clarity, then we need to give them clarity.”


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PRS tariff dispute nears end as all parties reach agreement

The long-running review of the UK popular music concerts (LP) tariff looks to be approaching its conclusion, with PRS for Music confirming it has the support of all “major relevant industry bodies” to push ahead with overhauling the nearly 30-year-old fee structure for shows and festivals.

In a statement released today, a PRS spokesperson says the performance rights organisation has applied to the Copyright Tribunal to “vary the terms of tariff LP”, which has been levied at a flat rate of 3% of gross box-office receipts since 1988.

“This submission has been made with the support of all of the major relevant industry bodies representing the live sector, and is now with the tribunal for its determination. We have nothing further to add at this stage.”

The industry bodies in question are the Concert Promoters’ Association (CPA), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Society of London Theatre (SOLT), UK Theatre Association, British Association of Concert Halls (BACH), National Arenas Association (NAA), Glastonbury Festivals Limited and Music Venue Trust (MVT).

A consultation on changes to the tariff closed in September 2015, and it was initially expected the findings would be presented last spring. At the time, PRS denied the tariff LP “only looks upwards”, describing rumours of an across-the-board rate hike as “wildly speculative”. “This has been a thorough, robust and detailed consultation process where we gave every opportunity for the industry to comment and contribute,” it added.

PRS live music tariff review continues

Last June, the Association of Independent Festivals said increasing the tariff would be “catastrophic” for independent festivals, and called for a dedicated PRS tariff for music festivals.

It is not yet known what changes will be made to tariff LP under PRS’s proposals – or if they will even be accepted by the Copyright Tribunal. Responding to IQ’s enquiries as to an expected date for the new tariff, a spokesperson says the decision is “in the hands of the tribunal”.


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