Some of the biggest names in UK music – including Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney – have urged the Government to act to prevent the end of the UK’s “world-leading” live music industry.
In an open letter to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the 1,500 artists say that Government support is “crucial” if the £4.5bn live music scene is to survive.
The letter follows a similar plea last week from hundreds of grassroots music venues around the UK which cannot re-open for live performances despite the coronavirus lockdown being lifted for other nightlife venues.
The star-studded list of signees includes Dua Lipa, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + The Machine, George Ezra, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi, Little Mix and many more.
Many of these artists were due to perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, All Points East, Parklife and TRNSMT, with all events either called off or taken online.
In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade.
“But, with 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 looks bleak.
“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”
Research carried out by Media Insight Consulting in June 2020 and published alongside the letter indicated that the industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, while venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5bn to the economy in 2019.
The figures built on UK Music’s annual Music By Numbers report.
Following the publication of the letter on Thursday, artists, venues, festivals and production companies will post films and photos of their last live gigs or events using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.
Fans are also encouraged to post about the last gig they attended in a show of support.
The letter calls on Mr Dowden to deliver a three-point strategy for the restarting of the live music sector.
It asks for a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales.
In tweets linking to pictures of their most recent tour, Little Mix say: “This was one of our last shows on LM5: The Tour. This was such an incredible night and would not have been possible without everyone working so hard behind the scenes.
“Due to coronavirus, the live industry is on the verge of collapse, with people losing their jobs and festivals and venues being at risk of closing. It’s time for the Government to step up and save the industry.”
American singer Cher also tweeted her support to the campaign, saying: “Sonny and my career couldn’t have happened without UK’s Live Music Industry. When no one ‘got us’ England did.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of such as loans and the job retention scheme and we continue to look at additional support we can provide the industry.
“We recognise that this pandemic has created major challenges for the sector and are working closely with them to develop comprehensive guidance for performances and events to return as soon as possible.”
Mr Dowden tweeted: “I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music and the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates and to give you a clear roadmap back.
“These involve very difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives.”
Lord Grade, a member of the Government’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce, told Good Morning Britain: “People have to got to be a little bit patient. This is a huge problem but I can reassure Sir Paul and everybody else who signed that letter that the Government is on top of this. Everybody wants an instant answer, it ain’t that simple.
“The Government is well aware of the value of the creative industries to the UK economy. It’s the one growth area of the economy that kept on growing through the recession, so just be a little bit patient.”