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UK Music Industry Seeks Support as Hardship Hits Workers

  • Significant loss of highly-trained and skilled workers.
  • Many workers face hardship – some still with no support at all.
  • An economic asset valued at £5.2bn GVA, the music industry is facing irreparable decay without specific support for the workforce.

An open letter from the UK Council of Music Makers: individuals need sector-specific support now or we face losing UK’s music industry – a £5.2bn asset to the economy 

The UK Council of Music Makers (CMM) – comprising FAC, The Ivors Academy, MMF, MPG and the MU – call on Government to urgently implement a sector-specific funding package to support individual workers of the music industry – an asset worth £5.2bn GVA to the economy. 

As the united voice of music creators and performers, CMM writes to you in consideration of preserving the workforce, the highly-skilled foundation of the music industry. While we welcome the provisions in the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan – VAT reduction, Bounceback Loan payback extension, extension to SEISS and the Job Support Scheme – these measures do not go far enough for our industry.

Events, arts and culture industries have three times more the national average of workers on furlough and the music industry has freelance workforce of 72% (some 190,000 jobs), many of whom continue not to qualify for support under such schemes. The implication that the occupations of many in this world-beating music business are not ‘viable’ does not marry with its large-scale contribution to the economy.

A recent Musicians’ Union survey of 2000 of their members showed the following:

  • 34% musicians may quit the industry due to COVID-19.
  • 47% have been forced to look for work outside of music.
  • 70% are unable to do more than a quarter of their usual work. 
  • 87% covered by furlough and SEISS will face financial hardship when schemes end in their current form.
  • 88% do not think that Government has done enough to support musicians.

In addition to other restrictions, as we look to another business quarter with no live music, and nowhere in sight for it to return in full, we urgently need support to avoid the decay of our industry, the hardship experienced by our workforce and the mass exodus of highly-skilled individuals, which will result in irreparable damage to lives, businesses and the world-class standing of the UK music industry.

Institutions that have access to the Culture Recovery Fund largely do not have the ability to provide trickle-down opportunities to individuals that make up the workforce at this time, with current restrictions in place. We must see specific support for these individuals, now, before we experience damaging industry-wide loss. Grants provided by the likes of Arts Council and Help Musicians do not replace the huge losses faced by so many workers.

Scotland and Wales have substantial freelance hardship grants in place for those excluded from current government support schemes. In the music industry those excluded include many workers set up as limited companies, new starters, £50k+ earners and <50% freelancing. While the CRF is current, we urge you to allocate a portion as grants to these unsupported freelancers, available as soon as possible, while a longer-term support system is considered.

While the revitalisation of the music, arts and culture industries looks evermore bleak given the return to further restrictions, we also call for targeted schemes to increase consumer confidence and ‘back to music’ incentives for the public. Much like the Eat Out To Help Out scheme for the hospitality sector, we urge you to consider the two-for-one seats proposal mooted by the OneVoice campaign group for the live performance business. 

Our collective memberships – musicians, songwriters, composers, producers, featured artists, and their managers – are central to this industry, and the UK economy. Their all-important contribution within the ecosystem as the value creators should not be ignored.

We call for a specific and robust financial support package for the workforce of the music industry and look forward to working with you on finding a solution with the utmost urgency. As much of the workforce faces further redundancies, financial devastation and irreparable damage, we need action now before we lose our talent and economic value for good.

Yours sincerely,

Council of Music Makers (UK)


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