The live music sector is at a critical moment. With a tentative date of April 2021 earmarked as a target for when gigs can run at full capacity in the UK, and two thirds of the UK’s grassroots venues unable to hold socially distanced gigs, scores of venues are still fighting for funding and to survive.
Meanwhile, the new six-month Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will only cover 20% of the average monthly income (done from 70%), for those who are freelance (like many working in the music industry are), causing financial hardship for many working in live music.
It is a truly unprecedented time, and as Blur drummer and Featured Artists Coalition member Dave Rowntree told NME: “We are at risk of losing much of our music industry, the jewel in the crown of one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy.”
So, what can we do to help?
Donating to organisations helping those out of work in the industry, supporting your local venue and going to gigs and writing to your local MP are all options. Here are some ways you can do your bit to save the future of live music.
If you’re able to spare a bit of cash, there are several organisations you could consider donating to…
Founded by Production Services Association members (the trade association for those involved in live events), Stagehand was initially set up as a welfare and benevolent fund that their members could access if they were injured or unable to work. Due to the pandemic, almost all of those working in the live events industry are out of work – with Stagehand predicting that as Government support is withdrawn their people who are self employed are “facing a winter gap in earnings of around £60million”, and that “half of our employed workers will be made redundant by October”. They’re raising money to donate to their COVID-19 Crew Relief Fund.
Backup are the Technical Entertainment Charity and offer financial support to technical professionals in live events, theatre and broadcasting.
Musicians’ Union hardship fund
Be it it through cancelled gigs and venue closures or loss of teaching work, musicians have been critically affected by the current crisis. To help their members who are suffering financially, the Musicians’ Union have set up a £1million fund to “to provide urgent relief for musicians in genuine financial hardship”.
The #WeMakeEvents campaign was started by PLASA (The Professional Lighting and Sound Association) and several other trade associations, back in April and now pulls together “a world-wide collective, across the live entertainment industry, of hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of staff and freelancers”. They’re aiming to protect the live events industry, championing those who work in events and providing support for those affected by the pandemic. They’re raising money alongside BackUp, and you can donate in several ways.
Keep posting and sharing your best snaps from the Global Day of Action which is still moving around the world!
— #WeMakeEvents Campaign (@WeMakeEventsoff) September 30, 2020
For decades Reading and Leeds Festival has been inspiring generations with iconic performances and memories that will last a lifetime.
— Reading & Leeds Fest (@OfficialRandL) September 30, 2020
Music Venue Trust and #SaveOurVenues
The Music Venue Trust have launched #SaveOurVenues, a campaign to help protect the 556 venues currently at the risk of closure due to COVID-19. You can help by “adopting” your favourite local venue, seeing which are still in trouble and donating some cash directly to them, or you can done to the national fundraiser.
WEAR YOUR SUPPORT ON YOUR SLEEVE
Why not buy some merch that shows your support, here’s what you could get.…
Save Our Venues merch
Support your favourite local venue by buying some merch to support them.
Get £10 off Fightback Lager and help save UK music venues
NME readers can get £10 off a pack of Fightback Lager, with the money raised going to help to the Music Venue Trust and #SaveOurVenues campaign, by using the coupon code NME. More details on this offer are available here.
— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) October 2, 2020
Get a classic Foo’s shirt
Foo Fighters have put a limited edition Roswell Alien shirt that celebrates their 1995 show at Kings College Students Union on sale, with all proceeds going to Music Venue Trust’s Save Our Venues.
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Just released today >>> Limited Edition Original Roswell Alien Design tee commemorating Foo Fighters' show on February 23, 1995 at Jambalaya Club in Arcata, California and June 3, 1995 at Kong’s College in London. 👽 Shop adult & youth sizes at link in bio. All of Foo Fighters' proceeds from this shirt will go towards benefitting National Independent Venue Association (@nivassoc) in the US. Visit saveourstages.com to take action. #saveourstages And UK proceeds will go to #saveourvenues
Get a classic tour poster
The Music Venue Trust are selling reproduced posters from classic gigs to help raise money for their Save Our Venues campaign. You can purchase posters for past gigs by a host of musicians, including The Killers, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey,, IDLES, Arctic Monkeys and more.
GO TO A GIG – OR BUY TICKETS FOR ONE NEXT YEAR
Socially distanced gigs are now able to take place, so you can support your local venue by attending one. It’s worth noting that two thirds of venues are unable to put on safe, socially distanced events; but you can also support venues by purchasing tickets for 2021 shows in advance. Here are some gigs taking place that are working to support local venues.
Live Is Alive!
A series of gigs at Brighton Dome, these events are to support the city’s local music scene. Organised by a group of Brighton venues, tickets are limited to 250 each night (and fully seated), and there’s the chance to watch the gig from home as well. The full line-ups are available here.
Win a chance to see your favourite artist in a tiny venue
Passport: Back to Our Roots gives you the chance to see a massive act like Jamie xx, Elbow or Pet Shop Boys perform in a teeny tiny venue. Part of the #SaveOurVenues campaign, you donate a fiver and with that are in for the chance to win entry to one of these shows. The gigs are to be “a celebration of the unrivalled experience” watching an artist “in a room full of friends and fellow fans”. As such they won’t be socially distanced, so the dates for the shows haven’t been announced (but are likely to take place between March and September 2021).
Wow! @jamie___xx is well into his stretch target for his show at @Corsica_Studios! Not a single one of these @passportgigs will go ahead until these venues can welcome audiences at full capacity. Don't wait any longer to enter the prize draw 👉 https://t.co/1rJevc42Nw pic.twitter.com/xuqNKR3fkc
— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) October 2, 2020
STREAM A GIG
Several artists are playing live shows to raise money for various organisations helping the live music sector. Here are some gigs you could watch…
Juanita Stein live at Brighton Electric
The full band show with be streamed live from Brighton Electric, and £1 of each ticket will be donated to #WeMakeEvents. Stein says of the #WeMakeEvents campaign: “#WeMakeEvents is working hard to raise funds and get government assistance in order to help the live sector survive this immense crisis. The UK alone employs over 1,000,000 people within the sector, and Every. Single. Person I know working in the industry right now is struggling. So, if i’m able to make the smallest dent in raising awareness via the show, then I’d be truly happy.”
Alvarez Kings live from the Leadmill
Alvarez Kings performed in the Leadmill, and for a fiver you can stream the gig, with all money going to #SaveOurVenues and The Music Venue Trust.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
There are tons of ways to make your voice heard, whether that be signing petitions, attending (socially distanced) protests or volunteering your time. Here are a few…
Extend furlough scheme for theatre and live music industry
This petition is arguing for the furlough scheme to be extended for theatre and live music industry, to help save those working in the sector (who could continue to struggle for work when the furlough scheme ends).
Coronavirus Support Package for Directors / Shareholders of small Limited Co’s.
This petition explains that: “There are many owner managed businesses in the UK who own and operate under a Limited Company who have lost all their income like the employed and self-employed who have already been advised they will receive a support package.” A large amount of touring crew would fall under this category, and this petition is lobbying to ensure that a COVID-19 support package in line to that for employed and self-employed is provided.
Cancel the Curfew
The current 10pm curfew will have a dire effect on the hospitality and live music industry, and Cancel The Curfew predict this will “suffocate our venues and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs”. They’re urging the Government to U-turn on this policy, to help save the hospitality industry.
— Cancel The Curfew – Stop Blaming Hospitality (@CancelCurfewUK) October 2, 2020
Let Us Dance – Support nightclubs, dance music events and festivals
This petition is urging the government to extend the funding from the £1.57billion support package to nightclubs, dance music events and festivals, who aren’t currently being provided specific support. The petition explains: “COVID-19 has hit hard on the nightlife sector having a major impact due to the suspension of mass gatherings. Followed by unclear guidelines and a lack of commitment from the government, this has contributed to growing uncertainty within the arts sector, putting at risk millions of jobs. The government must make clear its commitment to ensuring the dance community survives the pandemic.
WRITE TO YOUR MP
One way to make your voice heard and to help is by writing to your MP. Contact them and remind them of the pressures the live events sector is facing, and how the sector doesn’t receive arts grants, so the £1.57 billion bailout won’t actually reach a lot of those working in the sector.