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UK industry calls for clarity, timetable for reopenings

Nearly a billion pounds will be wiped off the value of the UK music industry without immediate government action to support the live sector, industry leaders have warned.

Thousands of jobs will be lost and the British music business – which formerly contributed £5.2bn a year to the UK economy – will suffer £900 million (€1bn) in losses from the impact of coronavirus without urgent state support, the UK Live Music Group has said.

The group, which sits within trade body UK Music as the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, is calling for, among other measures, clarity on when live events will be allowed to return – as has already happened in many European countries, including the Netherlands, Norway and Spain – as well as any social-distancing protocols that will need to remain place when they do.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, three quarters of the industry’s workforce is furloughed, with little certainty about when their jobs might return.

“We’ll need more support from government to survive”

In addition to job losses, the impact of Covid-19 means that further government support is also necessary to prevent more than 550 grassroots music venues going under, according to the group. Additionally, a recent Association of Independent Festivals survey found that 92% of its members, chiefly small and mid-sized summer events, are facing imminent collapse.

The group has identified the following areas in which government help is needed:

Newly appointed UK Music chair Tom Watson says: “The music industry is really hurting. Parts of the sector are effectively on life support and will need a sustained package of help from the government to survive.

“The support for our world-leading industry must continue”

“The music industry has joined forces and is doing its best to look after its people through a fantastic network of hardship funds. As the world slowly emerges from the international lockdown, the UK cannot afford to leave behind its economy-boosting music industry. We’ll need more support from government to survive and remain a long-term contributor to the economy.

“If we are to nurture the next generation of British stars like Adele, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, we need the government to listen and act to ensure our music industry remains the envy of the world.”

“The government must not abandon the music industry, which is such a vital part of our economy, culture and social fabric,” adds Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall and chair of the National Arenas Association.

“The support for our world-leading industry must continue until we have a chance to get back on our feet.”


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Tom Watson named new UK Music chairman

UK Music has appointed former shadow culture secretary Tom Watson as its new chair, replacing outgoing founder and chair Andy Heath. Watson starts in his new role next month.

Watson, also a former deputy leader of the Labour party, stood down as a member of parliament at the December 2019 general election. He says his chief priority in his new role at UK Music, the umbrella body representing the UK music industry, would be secure maximum government support for the sector amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“UK Music speaks with a powerful voice for the whole of the UK commercial music sector,” comments Watson, a former colleague of outgoing UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. “And at the heart of the sector are the songwriters and musicians, many thousands of whom stand ready to serve in the national effort against the coronavirus.

“In ordinary times, the UK’s commercial music sector contributes £5.2 billion to the UK economy and supports 190,000 jobs. The cancellation of live music events has devastated the sector. Thousands of jobs are now in peril and threaten the long-term bottom line of the UK economy.

“There will be much to say […] in the months ahead, but first, let’s deal with this crisis

“Our urgent task is to work with our colleagues and partners in government to support the national effort to defeat coronavirus, whilst protecting the jewel in the crown of British culture: commercial music.

“When we’re through this crisis, UK Music has an important part to play in Britain’s developing new role in the world. We believe we can be the prime minister’s calling card to every country on the planet.

“There will be much to say about this in the months ahead, but first, let’s deal with this crisis. I will be seeking urgent talks with ministers and officials to ensure that we support the music-makers of Britain and the industry that always sustains us through the good times and the bad.”

UK Music’s acting CEO, Tom Kiehl, remains in his role during the recruitment process for Dugher’s replacement.


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