MUSIC INDUSTRY NEWS: Calls For Government action to boost recovery as new report reveals Covid wiped out one in three music jobs


UK Music has published its This Is Music 2021 annual report, revealing the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the music ecosystem, wiping out 69,000 jobs – one in three of the total workforce.

AIM joins UK Music in calling on the Government to introduce tax incentives and other employment-boosting measures to arm the sector with the tools it needs to rebuild after the pandemic. The sector also needs urgent action from government to alleviate the problems facing musicians and crew touring the EU, a vital export market for UK music.

The measures are outlined in a new Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan included in the new report.

The key findings about the music industry contained in This Is Music 2021 include:

  • Employment plunged by 35% from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020
  • Music industry’s economic contribution fell 46% from a record £5.8bn in 2019 to just £3.1bn in 2020
  • Music exports dropped 23% from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion in 2020

Hundreds of UK festivals and live music events cancelled after the first in a series of lockdowns was imposed in March 2020 and touring was decimated by similar closures and travel bans and restrictions globally.

The impact was felt right across the industry as studios, warehouses, offices and venues were forced to close, and musicians, crew and others were unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters of workers are self-employed, many fell through gaps in the Government support schemes.

AIM’s Covid-19 Crisis Fund provided financial aid to many freelancers, self-employed contractors and sole directors in these sectors that were hit the hardest before government support schemes were set up. With generous donations from industry stakeholders, over £800,000 was distributed. The AIM Crisis Fund was one of a number of industry initiatives that helped provide crucial financial support during this period.

The report provides clear evidence of the need for swift Government action to help the music industry to bounce back and return to the growth seen ahead of the pandemic.

UK Music, AIM and its other members, are outlining five key areas where swift action from the Government would help the industry create thousands of new jobs and provide a rewarding career for thousands of people:

  • Tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs – AIM has been leading this work for UK Music and consider it central to recovery and future growth.
  • Urgent action to remove barriers to touring the EU, the UK’s closest export market
  • A permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets
  • Extending funding and support for music exports, including ISF and MEGS
  • Boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline

There were some positives to take from the year. Physical music and merchandise sales including vinyl performed well as the specialist retail and distribution sectors pivoted quickly to online retail, supported by labels, artists and fans, including through campaigns such as Record Store Day and Love Record Stores.

PPL collected £225.7 million in revenue during 2020. This was less of a reduction in revenues than first feared with a fall of just 17% from £271.8 million in 2019. With PPL collections reflecting previous years’ airplay, it is expected that there will be an ongoing impact on these revenues, but it is testament to clear-sighted management and great work by the PPL team to see collections of this amount considering the circumstances. PPL went beyond this in helping the industry through a difficult time, including generous donations to AIM’s Covid Crisis Fund and others.

In addition to UK Music’s research, UK Music also commissioned Public First to survey the views of the general public on the music industry.

The survey by Public First found:

  • 75% of the public are proud of the UK music industry and its heritage
  • 59% believe music improves the UK’s reputation overseas
  • 74% say music is important to their quality of life
  • UK listens to 60 billion hours of music a year – the equivalent of 7 million years
  • 1 million people took up a music instrument during lockdown

Read the report

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