The UK music industry pulls together to fight the economic impact of coronavirus

Musicians in the United Kingdom have so far lost an estimated £13.9 million in earnings


Words by: Billy Ward

According to a survey taken by the Musician’s Union, musicians around the United Kingdom have so far lost an estimated £13.9 million in earnings due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The organisation, which is the main trade union for the sector in the country with some 32,000 members, sent out a survey asking about the impact of the outbreak and received 4,100 responses. Ninety per cent of the respondents claimed they had been affected in some way.

Closures of venues and schools coupled with the recent social distancing measures have meant that musicians are no longer able to go about their normal business, with many formally relying on teaching and tuition to make up parts of their income.

Last week, the Federation of Entertainment Unions 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, requesting economic support for those working in the events industry, has been signed by nearly 150,000 people.  This comes after parliament implemented measures to ensure businesses earning below £51,000 will not have to pay business rates for the next twelve months in an attempt to protect small venues.

The outbreak, however, has prompted members of the music industry to pull together and try to help each other through these trying times.

For one day on Friday March 20, Bandcamp stopped collecting its 15% share of revenue from sales and instead let the artists keep one hundred per cent of the profits. In a single day, fans spent over £3.47 million on music and merch, around 15 times what a normal Friday would have brought in. Browse our selection of the best releases dropped that Friday.

Resident Advisor have launched the ‘Save Our Scene’ campaign, which offers advice and highlights resources to keep the independent electronic music scene alive during the COVID-19 crisis. An open letter signed by more than 3,000 people in the scene across five continents has been published on the site calling on collective action from the electronic music community to save the scene.

A ‘Virtual Pint’ fundraising scheme has been set up to help small venues and arts spaces across the country. Donate here.

Elsewhere, Soundcloud is going to be live-streaming ‘Creator Office Hours’ every Monday, with its music, artist relations and label services teams fielding questions from musicians and members. The aim is to give people access to virtual, professional-grade advice in order to try and boost industry knowledge and give artists the tools to improve their craft.

Local venues are also getting involved to try and help relieve the pressure of coronavirus on the health services. East London nightclub FOLD has recently offered up its space for NHS facilities during the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read next: How is the live music industry coping with the effects of coronavirus?

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