Over a thousand artists have signed a petition to encourage government intervention to help save the music industry from “catastrophic damage” caused by coronavirus. With names like Liam Gallagher, Nick Cave and Paul McCartney on the list, the news is quickly gaining online attention.
Directed to Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), the open letter states that whilst the government have addressed two prominent British pastimes “football and pubs – and now it’s crucial that it focuses on a third, live music.” They also explain that they don’t “want to ask for government help”, since many members of the industry want to remain self-sufficient, but admit that “government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great world-leading industry.” Emily Eavis, co-organiser of Glastonbury Festival described in a tweet that the live music industry is “frankly on its knees and faces being wiped out.”
Radiohead, Primal Scream, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, The Cure, The 1975, IDLES and Biffy Clyro, just to name a few, have also added their support to the campaign.
The letter went on to say that, whilst the industry had been proud to play their part in keeping the country safe by temporarily closing venues and rescheduling events, there is “no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them look bleak.”
Organisers of #LetTheMusicPlay have backed this statement up with research and statistics, explaining that “up to 50% of the live music industry’s workforce is facing unemployment, leading to a catastrophic loss of skills.” Rock band ‘Editors’ (@editorsofficial) added in their tweet that “90% of grassroots music venues are under threat of closure without urgent financial support” and noted that “the music industry in 2019 contributed £4.5bn to the economy, supported 210,000 jobs across the UK.”
– 90% of grassroots music venues are under threat of closure without urgent finanical support— EDITORS (@editorsofficial) July 2, 2020
– 50% of the industry’s workforce is facing unemployment
– The music industry in 2019 contributed £4.5bn to the economy, supported 210,000 jobs across the UK#letthemusicplay pic.twitter.com/gNT7QVWl9D
After news of the letter broke online, many musicians, venues and events started posting #LetTheMusicPlay on social media sites, encouraging fans to share their favourite moments from gigs or festivals pre-lockdown. Dan Smith (@bastilledan) from the band Bastille, shared six photos of their previous concerts on Instagram, with the caption:
View this post on Instagram
When you go to see your favourite band, you might not realise how many people are working hard behind the scenes to make the show happen. The future of live music is at risk as a result of COVID-19. This uncertainty is felt by the entire industry, and affects everyone from the venue staff, to the sound technicians, to the people who go out on the road with artists. The government must step up to help. Please join us today in showing support and sharing your gig memories using #LetTheMusicPlay
Tim Burgess also tweeted:
Spotify has 124 million premium subscribers. Imagine if they stepped in to assist the live music industry (their plan last year was to spend £385 million buying apps). They live off the music artists supply. @Spotify maybe it’s time to offer a helping hand to the live music world pic.twitter.com/85PdZyTgOL— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) July 2, 2020
Although the Music Venue Trust launched “#SaveOurVenues” earlier this year, they have only temporarily saved over 140 venues, and still state that “over 400 Grassroots Music Venues in the UK are at imminent risk of being closed permanently.” There’s hope that the combination of these two campaigns, as well as initiatives from artists themselves (such as Frank Turner’s “Independent Venue Love” concert series) could help, as the letter states; “ensure that a live music industry remains when the pandemic has finally passed.”
Words by Harriet Metcalfe
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