HOW THE CANCELLATION OF LIVE MUSIC IS CRIPPLING ARTISTS AND VENUES

By Daniel DeFalco

Featured image credit: Provided by Daniel DeFalco

From Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, to the thousands of unsigned artists performing at open mic venues around the country, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the UK music industry from top to bottom.

With the majority of this summer’s highly anticipated festivals including Glastonbury and TRNSMT falling victim to the pandemic, many of the country’s artists are having to consider the daunting prospect of being unable to perform live for the foreseeable future. For independent artists and music venues which rely on revenue produced by live music, the coming months appear bleak.

The Musicians Union, which represents over 32,000 people working across the music business, found that £21 million of work has been lost since lockdown measures were implemented in mid-March.

Music festivals are usually the summer’s most eagerly awaited events. (Image credit: PickPik.com via Creative Commons)

Mo Jamil, who won BBC show The Voice in 2017, has had his upcoming European tour cancelled and says that plans for rescheduling events have been deferred until information on a post-lockdown society have been revealed.

He said: “I’ve been affected quite a lot. I was supposed to be touring throughout the summer, starting in Norway at the start of June, playing a few festivals and live shows.

“The situation has changed my scheduling process so I’m having to wait and see how the lockdown ends,” he added.

So far, no rescue package specific to the music industry has been announced by the government. As a result, hardship funds set up by charities such as the Arts Council and Help Musicians are the only source of support for struggling musicians.

Mo Jamil has produced music independently since he was dropped by Polydor Records in July 2018. (Image credit: Supplied by Mo Jamil)

The grants offered by the main industry charities range from £500 to £3000 and Mr Jamil has urged artists who have had their work disrupted by the pandemic to take advantage of what little help is available.

The 24-year-old said: “I think it’s something all musicians should look into because one of the biggest problems people are facing is, as well as not being able to go out on tour, recording music can be very difficult due to the lockdown.

“For me as an independent artist, my biggest challenges will be re-releasing music and touring. I was hoping to use the time I had this year to go into the studio and get my projects finished off, so it will be a challenge to set new deadlines and make them achievable,” he added.

As artists scramble for innovative ways to somehow profit from the lockdown predicament, such as streamed performances in return for donations, the current social distancing measures leave very little wriggle room for live music venues.

The below infographic demonstrates how vital the music industry is to the UK economy:

The Music Venue Trust, a charity which acts to protect independent music venues, says that of the 670 venues it represents, 556 face an imminent risk of closing their doors permanently.

So dire is the situation, the charity has launched campaign titled #saveourvenues, which includes a Crowdfunder with a target of £1 million.

Below, you can hear Mr Jamil’s view on what the live music scene will look like post-pandemic:

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