Stars from the UK’s live music sector, alongside thousands of venues, crew and industry figures, are today issuing an urgent plea for support from the UK Government.
The live music industry and spend associated with events added £4.5bn to the economy in 2019 and supported 210,000 jobs across the country*. Yet throughout this pandemic, the whole industry has been at a standstill; closing its doors, abandoning the tour trucks and packing away this Summer’s festival gear, with a return to business date still yet unknown.
The UK live music industry is the second biggest in the world but stands to lose at least £900 million if it remains closed for the rest of 2020. UK arenas, including our very own Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, are also set to lose five million visitors due to COVID-19. This is why we are supporting the music industry’s new campaign #LetTheMusicPlay.
Today’s launch will see 24 hours of industry-wide action to encourage Government support through the current crisis. Based primarily on social media, it will begin with a letter being delivered to culture secretary Oliver Dowden signed by thousands of artists, crew and venues. Names on the letter include Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Sam Smith, Skepta, Lewis Capaldi, Little Mix and many more.
In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.
“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world leading industry.”
To coincide with the letter, hundreds of artists, venues, concerts, festivals, production companies and other people across the industry will today begin posting films and photos of their last live gig under the banner #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans will also be encouraged to post about the last gig they went to, all in a mass show of support for the UK’s world-leading live music industry during its shutdown.
The key campaign asks of Government are as follows:
- A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing.
- An immediate comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance.
- Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.
Data shows that the biggest economic impact from the live music shutdown is likely to be felt regionally, where concerts and festivals have been proven to bring huge benefits. One sell-out full capacity night of live music in Birmingham would generate £3m for the local economy.
Dua Lipa said: “It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK. From the very start playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career. I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels … small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms and into arenas, and of course festivals in between each touring cycle. But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.”
Liam Gallagher said: “Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love. I can’t wait to get back to playing for the fans. But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry. There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live.”
Ben Lovett, Mumford & Sons and Venue Group, said: “I’ve dedicated my life to music, on and off the stage. I was a teenager when I started running a monthly new music night called Communion with a couple of friends that has evolved into one of the UK’s most established concert promotions businesses, independent record labels and publishing companies. I was barely 20 when we were cutting some of the early Mumford & Sons demos in my parents' attic and spending all of our spare energy in rehearsal rooms, and then cutting our teeth in venues throughout London. Now I’m a venue owner and operator of Omeara and Lafayette and watching our entire industry get decimated by this virus. Every day, literally, I hear of another friend in music losing their job, shutting up shop, switching careers. This pandemic has affected everyone, it has taken many lives and forever changed many more. Live entertainment has not been the headline, nor do I believe it should’ve been, at least until now. We really have to pay some attention to what our cultural landscape is going to look like on the other side of this and we’re hoping that #letthemusicplay will pull some of this into focus for a minute.”
Beverley Knight said: “Alongside my love of music and theatre is my love of Wolverhampton Wanderers. We now need to see the same energy and ambition that brought football back applied to live music and theatre because, if not, the impact on the industry is going to be devastating and some elements may never come back.”
Emily Eavis, Glastonbury organiser, said: "The UK's venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country's culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges. If the government doesn't step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”
Phil Bowdery, Chairman of the Concert Promoters’ Association, said: “July would normally see the UK embarking on a world-famous summer of live music, but this year the lights are switched off and the microphones unplugged. Live music has sought to play its role in helping tackle Coronavirus, with many artists providing entertainment for people from their homes. But our shut down is likely to go on for much longer than most with many concerts and festivals unable to operate until 2021 at the earliest. Without rapid government support, the long-term impact will be devastating, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled jobs and billions of pounds from the UK economy.”
To follow the campaign search: #LetTheMusicPlay and @UK_Music
*According to Media Insight Consulting, June 2020.