UK musicians have already lost an estimated £13.9m in earnings because of coronavirus, according to a Musicians’ Union survey.
The organisation, which has 32,000 members and is the main trade union for the sector in the UK, surveyed its members over the impact of the outbreak, and received more than 4,100 responses. Ninety per cent of respondents said their income had already been affected.
The MU’s general secretary, Horace Trubridge, announced a new hardship fund that will pay grants of £200 to out-of-work musicians, saying: “We hope this fund goes some way to providing a small amount of relief to our members, but we urgently need the government to provide clarity on what wider support will be available and we call on the record industry to play its part, too.”
Musicians being affected by the closure of live venues and schools, as well as other social distancing measures, with many making at least part of their income through teaching.
On Friday, the Federation of Entertainment Unions, which comprises the Musicians’ Union, the Bectu section of Prospect, Equity, the National Union of Journalists and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, called for the government “to introduce an income guarantee for freelance and self-employed workers for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak”.
A separate petition to the UK government, asking for economic assistance for those working in the events industry, has been signed by nearly 150,000 people.
A huge number of tours and music festivals have already been cancelled because of coronavirus, including Glastonbury and Coachella. Many musicians have started performing via online livestreams, including – as part of the World Health Organisation and Global Citizen initiative Together at Home – Chris Martin, John Legend and Camila Cabello.
Other stars have pledged financial support for relief initiatives - Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation donated $5m (£4.2m) to various organisations, while Ciara and her husband, Russell Wilson, donated a million meals to a food bank in their home city of Seattle.
The US Recording Academy – which organises the Grammys – announced a relief fund for musicians affected by coronavirus via its charity arm MusiCares.