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A Third of Jobs in U.K. Music Were Lost During Pandemic, Industry Body Calls for Urgent Government Action

Glastonbury Festival
Andrew Allcock/Glastonbury festival

The debilitating impact of COVID-19 wiped out 69,000 jobs, or one in three of the workforce, the annual report by industry body U.K. Music has revealed.

The This Is Music 2021 report also records that employment plummeted 35% from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020; the
music industry’s economic contribution fell 46% from £5.8 billion ($7.9 billion) to £3.1 billion ($4.2 billion) in 2020; and music exports dropped 23% from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion in 2020.

Glastonbury was among the hundreds of festivals and live music events canceled, studios and venues were forced to close, and musicians and crew were unable to work. In a sector where 75% of the workforce are self-employed, many were not covered by Government support schemes.

U.K. Music is calling on the Government to implement tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs; urgent action to remove the barriers to touring the EU; a permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets; more funding and support for music exports; and boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline.

U.K. Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “With the right support, the U.K. music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery. This Is Music sets out the positive role the music industry can play in our country’s future, and the steps that need to be taken to achieve that.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Our £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund has been a vital lifeline, helping music organisations across the UK to survive one of the worst peacetime crises on record. As doors reopened, our Events Research Program has enabled music events to return safely.”

“We have also listened carefully to U.K. Music’s arguments about a market failure regarding events insurance, and introduced the government-backed £700 million Live Events Reinsurance Scheme to ensure future events can be planned with certainty,” Dorries added. “Until now, our focus has been rescue and reopening. Now the priority is to ensure a strong recovery. The U.K. music industry is one of our country’s great national assets, and I give my commitment that the government will continue to back it every step of the way.”