UK Music outlines strategy to restart live music industry

UK Music has published its Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report, outlining a strategy to protect and support the live music industry.

The report sets out the economic, social and cultural value of live music, along with a blueprint for reviving live music after Covid-19 forced the effective closure of the sector last March. 

In particular, it warns that the lack of Covid cancellation insurance available is the biggest barrier to major events happening in 2021, and calls for Government to introduce an insurance scheme as it did for the film and TV sector. 

Tying in with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s letter to the Chancellor urging him to extend Government-backed insurance schemes to festivals and live music events, UK Music’s report is coupled with an S.O.S call to “Save Our Summer 2021” with the campaign hashtag #SaveOurSummer2021.

It comes amid mounting calls on the Government for clarity from organisers of world-leading events like Glastonbury, grassroots venue operators and the music industry’s workforce of almost 200,000 about how live music can be swiftly and safely restarted. 

The music industry has worked hard to make event spaces as safe as they can possibly be. This includes launching testing pilots to be able to hold mass events safely, working with government to develop guidance for how to hold events safely, and looking at new ventilation and air purification systems that would dramatically reduce the risk of transmission. But there is no certainty about when the industry will be allowed to hold mass events once again.

While the Government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund has been welcome in supporting the sector through the worst of the pandemic, the live music sector urgently needs to be able to plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season.

With its pre-Covid contribution to the UK economy of £5.8 billion, UK Music points out that the music industry can play a leading role in “galvanising the UK’s post-pandemic recovery strategy when the time comes” – but it needs time and support to prepare.

The economic benefits of festivals are spread across the whole of the UK and they are vital to supporting local economies and regional growth. Festival attendance grew in 2019 – up by 6% to 5.2 million in 2019 from 4.9 million in 2018, according to UK Music’s figures.

However, the pandemic resulted in a 90.2% drop in revenue for festivals in 2020 with fears of redundancies of up to 50% in the workforce, according to the Association of Independent Festivals.

“While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight,” said UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin (pictured).

“Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.”

Njoku-Goodwin continued: “In this report, UK Music is putting forward a clear plan for recovery: what we need to do to get the live performance sector back up on its feet again in 2021. But the clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty.

“With the right support the live music industry can be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery and play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural revival – but there will need to be a concerted effort from industry and the Government together if we are to let the music play and save our summer.”

UK Music’s Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report includes a clear plan for the Government to help the live music sector get back in business as soon as possible. 

The key calls for action in the report are:
• An indicative date for a full capacity restart
• A Government-backed indemnity scheme
• Targeted financial support for the sector
• Extension to the VAT rate reduction on tickets
• Rollover of the paid 2020 Local Authority licence fees for festivals to 2021
• Extension to business rates relief