COVID-19 updates

Impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s Live Music Industry 

The UK live music sector has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural and economic successes over the past decade, contributing to the UK’s global reputation with world-class performance spaces attracting millions of music tourists each year from all over the world. 

  • The live music sector contributes £4.5bn GVA each year for the UK economy, with £1.6bn in VAT alone in 2019 coming from concerts and festivals.  
  • Around 30 million fans attend concerts and festivals and 11.2 million music tourists travel to the UK to experience live music each year.  
  • Around 30 million fans attend concerts and festivals and 11.2 million music tourists travel to the UK to experience live music each year.  
  • The sector supports over 250,000 FTE jobs operating a complex ecosystem of managers, artists, technicians and suppliers, many of whom are self-employed and for whom no activity means no income.  

Going from a record high in 2019, to essentially zero in 2020, will have serious consequences for the live music sector. With all shows cancelled and venues closed since mid-March, the entire infrastructure and ecosystem of the industry that provides employment to tens of thousands of skilled workers is at risk. 

Scale of Disruption  

  • The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) estimates a £3bn GVA drop across the total music sector in 2020, citing the collapse in live music and touring as the single largest factor contributing to this decline. 
  • Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries report projects that the creative sector will be hit twice as hard as the wider economy in 2020.  
  • The entire festival season has been forced to cancel, with 98.5% of Association of Independent Festivals members not covered by insurance and with average sunk costs of £375,000 per event. 92% face collapse. 
  • The National Arenas Association (NAA), which represents 23 UK based arenas, has projected that they will lose almost £235 million worth of ticket sales and five million visitors over a six-month period.  
  • 50% of businesses involved in the supply of services to the live music industry only have liquidity for 4 months or less, and this drops significantly after all current Government support measures are taken into account. 

Long Term Impacts  

  • If the current Government support schemes end before the sector re-emerges, it will trigger thousands of redundancies and place much of our self-employed eco-system in financial peril, leading to a catastrophic loss of skilled workers. 
  • Without further and long-term business support, many venues, festivals, booking agencies and promoting companies will close completely, never to re-emerge. 
  • The loss of foundational infrastructure such as live music venues will narrow opportunities for new talent to enter the industry, hindering long-term recovery. This is at precisely the same moment when many other countries are aggressively supporting their cultural sector, such as Germany’s €1bn New Start for Culture package, €150m of which is dedicated to live music. This could lead to a significant reduction in the UK’s cultural status internationally.  
  • The sector believes there will be no economically viable activity until 2021, with at least a 3-4-year recovery period before the sector returns to 2019 levels. 
  • The live music sector has a complex supply chain that can be hidden from view and requires planning timelines of many months to deliver. 
  • A commercially viable live music industry is essential to the survival of the music business as a whole. 

Ensuring the sector can survive and reopen  

Due to the complex challenges that the live music sector faces, it is clear it will be one of the last sectors to reopen. As parts of the economy start to reopen the Government needs to move towards providing sector specific support. This support is vital in ensuring our previously thriving sector does not collapse.  
We are calling on the Government to provide us with: 

  1. A clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing.   
  2. A comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance. 
  3. Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.  

The business and employment support package should include a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed and sole traders to prevent mass redundancies; rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen; an extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain to protect our ecosystem, and large single event premises license fees for festivals to be rolled over to 2021. 

CPA Response  

Below are just some of the activities the CPA have undertaken on behalf of our members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • The CPA formed the ‘Get Back to Live’ working group together with representatives from the National Arena Association and British Association of Concert Halls.  
  • The GBTL group consulted widely across the whole live concert industry and made representation directly to Government at the highest level. As a result, members of the CPA were invited to brief Ministers and contribute to further steering groups and working parties focused on re-opening all venues as safely and as quickly as possible across the UK.  
  • Co-ordinated a letter from the UK live music industry to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of the “Let the Music Play” campaign calling for further support for the industry.  
  •  The letter received over 1,000 signatures from artists such as Coldplay, Muse, The Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Dizzee Rascal, Sir Paul McCartney, Take That, Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Liam Gallagher, Ellie Goulding, Kaiser Chiefs, Paloma Faith, KT Tunstall, and many, many more. 
  • The CPA also hosted an online parliamentary briefing for MPs and Peers on 2 July. This is to ensure parliamentarians understand the issues facing the industry and to build wide ranging political support for our asks of Government. 
  • The CPA commissioned detailed research on the scale of the live music industry in the UK. This research highlighted the economic and tourism benefits of the industry in the wider UK economy and has formed part of our lobbying work to Government.