Live Music Sector Needs A ‘Restart Date’, UK Government Is Told

Image Credit: Kieran Webber

UK Music Warns Government That The Industry Needs Clarity And Assistance If Live Music Is To Return In 2021

The music industry trade body UK Music is calling on the Government for assistance so that concerts and festivals can “get back on their feet”. The governing body is asking MP’s to name a “restart date”, after which gigs can go ahead, following a mostly cancelled 2020 and now cancelled early 2021. UK music is also asking the Government to introduce Covid cancellation insurance for live events as well as a VAT cut on concert tickets. 

The government has replied saying that they are working “flat out” to support the sector. 

UK Music submitted a report called “Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021”, which outlines what measures can help the industry get back up and running. This was published alongside an inquiry into the viability of festivals this summer, launching in Parliament this today. Organisers of the Parklife and Boomtown festivals, as well as UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwinm gave evidence on the first session earlier this morning. 

The creative industries together adds a massive £101.5 billion a year to the economy. This is more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, oil and gas industries combined. In 2020 the live music industry was worth £1.3 billion – even though it had been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, seeing 90% of gigs cancelled throughout the year. 

Festival revenue also dropped by 90.2% in 2020 with fears of redundancies for up to 50% of the workforce, according to the Association of Independent Festivals. 

In a statement, UK Music said there was “no certainty” about when live music and events will be able to start in front of full capacity crowds and thus the sector needs to be able to “plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season”. Adding that the lack of coronavirus insurance was the “biggest barrier” to events resuming; calling on the Government to introduce a scheme similar to the one unveiled for film and television in July. This insurance compensates companies where costs are incurred due to project delays and abandonment because of Covid-19. 

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music chief Executive has said:

“While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight.Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.” He continues, “In this report, UK Music is putting forward a clear plan for recovery: what we need to do to get the live performance sector back up on its feet again in 2021. But the clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty.”

Responding to the report, a DCMS spokesperson said: “We know these are challenging times for the live events sector and are working flat out to support it.” They add that, ”Our £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has already seen more than £1 billion offered to arts, heritage and performance organisations to support them through the impact of the pandemic, protecting tens of thousands of creative jobs across the UK, including festivals such as Deer Shed Festival, End of the Road and Nozstock.”

In devastating news for artists in the UK, they haven’t been covered in the recent deal for the countries’ exit from the European Union. This will cause drastic problems for touring artists looking to hit up any European countries and will likewise affect European acts playing the UK. Many have decried the lack of allowance made for touring artists in the deal and a petition is calling for visa-free travel for artists.

Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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