Live shows

Industry warns of COVID-19's catastrophic impact on music business

The warning comes from the UK Live Music Group, the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, which is part of umbrella trade body UK Music.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 11 May 2020
  • min read

UK Live Music Group have warned that thousands of jobs will be lost and the music industry will suffer £900 million in losses without urgent Government action. 

According to the UK Live Music Group, the impact of coronavirus means that without Government support the live music industry is facing: 

  • More than £900 million wiped from the expected £1.1 billion of live music to UK’s economy 
  • Thousands of job losses forcing the permanent closure of hundreds of businesses 
  • More than 550 grassroots music venues (82 percent of the total) at immediate risk of closure 
  • A period of up to three or four years before the live music sector recovers to 2019 levels 

Greg Parmley, chair, UK Live Music Group, said: ‘The live music industry has collapsed as a result of coronavirus and it will be one of the last sectors to emerge from this crisis. Removing existing support – such as the furlough scheme and help for self-employed – before live music resumes will trigger thousands of redundancies, and without additional support, the sector may never recover. 

‘Live music powers a huge eco-system of managers, artists, agents, technicians and suppliers, who have no income when there is no live music. The effects of this crisis are faced by the entire music industry – labels, publishers, composers and more don’t function without live performance.’ 

Tom Watson, chair, UK Music, said: ‘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 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.'

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

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

The live music industry is calling for Government help in a number of critical areas including:

  • A continuation of all existing employment schemes and business support packages until the live music industry recovers
  • VAT breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months so that festivals, concerts and live events can see a result of this support (certain cultural events and exhibits are already exempt)
  • Additional financial support to ensure that landlords provide rent-free periods to grassroots music venues tenants
  • Extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain, include service companies, sound and lighting suppliers
  • Clear guidance about when professionally run, licensed events can resume, in order to allow operators to properly plan a recovery
  • Clarity around social distancing which takes into account the range of different venue sizes, some of whom may not be able to reopen until measures are further relaxed
Before the impact of coronavirus, the music industry contributed £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy in Gross Value Added (GVA) and sustained more than 190,000 jobs.