#LetTheMusicPlay: Over 1,500 artists come together to call on government to stop “catastrophic damage” to live music

Radiohead, The Cure, Dua Lipa, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Johnny Marr, Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Coldplay are among the names demanding immediate action to save live music in the UK

Radiohead, The Cure, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Johnny Marr, Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, Paul McCartney, Dua Lipa, The Rolling Stones and Coldplay are among the huge list of artists who have signed an open letter to the government for the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign – demanding immediate action to prevent “catastrophic damage” to the music industry in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

Last month, the Music Venue Trust have penned a letter signed by over 560 of their venues calling for a £50million cash injection to save the “world-beating £5.2billion per year music industry”, allowing these spaces to “hibernate” until October and prevent their permanent closure. Around 92% of festival businesses are also at risk of collapse and called for government support to “make it to next year without being wiped out”. With singing, dancing, standing close to others and being in confined spaces are deemed to be “high risk activities” under current guidelines, the venue community then hit back at the government’s suggested “five point plan” to “raise the curtain” on live performances”.

Now, over 1,500 artists including Liam Gallagher, Rita Ora, Sam Smith and Lewis Capaldi have signed an open letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden – in a bid to “show the vital importance of the UK’s live music industry, ensure the Government cannot ignore live music and make noise to get the public and financial support the industry needs to survive”.

“Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love,” said Gallagher.

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis added: “If the Government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”

Easy Life Brudenell Social Club
Easy Life at Brudenell Social Club CREDIT: Andrew Benge/Redferns

Organisers say that “50% of the entire workforce is facing redundancy, 90% of grassroots venues face closure, many operators are facing insolvency and having cancelled this summer and many festivals will struggle to return next year.”

Read the full letter below:

“Dear Secretary of State,

“UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. From world-famous festivals to ground-breaking concerts, the live music industry showcases, supports, and develops some of the best talent in the world – on and off-stage.

“As important as it is, our national and regional contribution isn’t purely cultural. Our economic impact is also significant, with live music adding £4.5billion to the British economy and supporting 210,000 jobs across the country in 2019.

“Like every part of the entertainment industry, live music has been proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep people safe. 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.

“This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The promoters, festival organisers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown. But, 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 great world-leading industry.

“Government has addressed two important British pastimes – football and pubs – and it’s now crucial that it focuses on a third, live music. For the good of the economy, the careers of emerging British artists, and the UK’s global music standing, we must ensure that a live music industry remains when the pandemic has finally passed.”

As laid out by UK Music, the three key asks of the government are:

1. A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing
2. An immediate comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance.
3. Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.

Following today’s publication of the letter, artists, venues and festivals and will be posting films and photos of their last live gigs or events using the hashtag ‘Let The Music Play’ on social media – and encouraging other fans to do the same.

The Leadmill in Sheffield Credit: The Leadmill. CREDIT: Press

The Featured Artists’ Coalition, whose members include Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, have also leant their support to the campaign.

“In 1992 Radiohead played about 100 shows throughout the UK in small venues the length and breadth of this country,” said O’Brien. “This was where we started to learn our craft.”

“We continued to tour this country and by 1997 we were headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival. The live industry in this country is the lifeblood to for the music industry in this country.”

Ed O’Brien performing with Radiohead. Credit: Andrew Benge/Redferns

FAC general manager David Martin added: “Since the start of the pandemic it has been clear that the music industry, and particularly live music, would be heavily hit.  That has become even more stark with the easing of lockdown.  As many businesses reopen and return to something resembling normality, there is no end in sight for the UK’s venues, clubs and festivals or the artists and their teams that earn their living from them.”

“The UK’s live music industry contributed £4.5billion and almost a quarter of a million jobs to the UK economy in 2019.  Live music is the fuel for the wider music industry, supporting creators to make the music that makes a success of our envied recorded sector. Beyond the economic impact however, our music industry makes an enormous contribution to our wellbeing, our society and our culture. Without the urgent support that we have outlined to Government, that enormous financial contribution will vanish along with huge part of our national identity.”

See Tweets and social media posts from artists lending their support below:

View this post on Instagram

Society has always relied on music. It’s helped the world through wars, troubles and triumphs. A world without music is unthinkable and musicians are there and ready to play for everyone right now. I started out with The Smiths on the British club circuit and progressed through the culture that had been built by great artists and entrepreneurs over decades. When we played Glastonbury Festival in 1984 it was a moment that announced the new era for the festival and was a coming of age for the band. Since then I’ve watched British musicians of different genres influence and entertain the rest of the world. Innovation in music is what we do. It’s our tradition and our legacy. We need it. #letthemusicplay

A post shared by Johnny Marr (@johnnymarrgram) on

View this post on Instagram

Hey guys. Today we are joining together with 1500 other artists to ask the government to support live music! The magic of music is in its ability to bring people together and to share experiences. We obviously can’t and shouldn’t do that physically at the moment, but without some kind of support, the impact on this whole part of our culture could be devastating and, as always, the parts of the industry that will suffer the hardest are those we need to protect most. There are 210,000 people working in the live music economy all across the country. That includes not just the artists we see, but all the amazing venues, touring crew, studio staff, promoters, managers, the people organising festivals, and a zillion others. It’s a whole ecosystem and it has all just been wiped out. As many other UK businesses are now finally able to start working back to normality, the live music industry is looking at sitting and waiting for a very long time and unless we get some help, some parts will not survive the wait. Please share the hashtag #letthemusicplay and let the government know how you feel! THANK YOU WE LOVE YOU xxxxxxx Pic by @soundofapeach ❤️

A post shared by The Big Moon (@thebigmoon) on





This comes after the Music Venue Trust asked the government for urgent clarification, amid fears that a radical shake-up of planning laws to boost the UK economy could threaten the future of venues.

Earlier this year saw the Music Venue Trust launch the Save Our Venues campaign, with a crowdfunding bid to prevent 556 independent UK venues from closure. It has temporarily saved over 140 of these venues, but this funding will not last far into the summer.

Visit here to donate to the Save Our Venues campaign, where artists are also encouraged to sign up to play online fundraising gigs.

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