The head of UK Music has written to the Chancellor demanding “urgent targeted financial support” for the music industry.
The umbrella body, which represents the collective interests of the production side of UK’s commercial music business, said high rates of isolation amongst staff and musicians means many events have already cancelled, while advice from Government about reducing social contact means audiences are not showing up, seeking refunds, or no longer buying advance tickets.
The letter from chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin to Rishi Sunak said: “While the Government is not formally cancelling events the nature of the messaging is appearing to advise people not to attend them.
UK Music Chief Executive @jnjokugoodwin writes to Chancellor, calling on him to provide urgent targeted financial support for the music industry following the impact of Omicron.
— UK Music (@UK_Music) December 17, 2021
“This messaging is clearly harming audience confidence at live music events and is tantamount to a lockdown in all but name for our sector, yet without any of the necessary financial support being made available to see us through this latest crisis.”
A report from music industry body Live said there has been a no-show rate of 27% at events in recent days, while the Music Venue Trust (MVT) reports an average gross income decrease across venues of 27% between December 6 and December 13.
Beyond live events, recording studios have also received increased cancellations.
With live music events being cancelled again in the face of the Omicron strain of Covid-19, we're supporting @UK_Music's call for urgent financial support from the Government to help musicians and staff affected by this.https://t.co/mja3kx25Fo
— Music Producers Guild (@ukMPG) December 17, 2021
UK Music is calling on the Government to provide a raft of support, including the reintroduction of the 5% emergency VAT rate for live events and scrapping of the planned VAT hike to 20% in April 2022.
The umbrella organisation is also calling for financial assistance for freelance musicians, artists and crew who are no longer be able to work and a furlough scheme for those impacted and in full-time employment.
It's more important than ever to please #TakeATest before attending a show during the Christmas period. The events industry want to remain open. So please be considerate of others and check you are testing negative before entering a public space. pic.twitter.com/tBwK25HOx9
— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) December 17, 2021
Njoku-Goodwin said: “Public health concerns and the safety of music workers and consumers are always paramount to the music industry.
“This is why our sector has spent the past 22 months adjusting to the threat of Covid-19 and ensuring our operational and working practices are as safe as possible to mitigate against the challenge of this highly transmissible virus.
“Through initiatives like the Events Research Programme, we have collaboratively worked with the Government to achieve the successful reopening of live events in 2021 and instil confidence in audiences as part of our post-pandemic recovery.
“The mitigations we have established as an industry mean that forced closure should not be necessary, as we have established protocols that enable us to operate safely.
“It is vital that we have the financial support that we need to survive this winter, so we can ultimately return to play a positive role in our nation’s recovery from this pandemic.”