UK Music have shared a new report, Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021, outlining their recommendations for how to restart the UK’s live music industry once it is safe to do so.
While the roll-out of coronavirus vaccinations has boosted hopes that live music will be able to return in the UK later this year, there remains great uncertainty over whether this summer’s festival season will be able to go ahead as planned due to the ongoing pandemic.
As MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee open their inquiry into ‘The future of UK music festivals’ today (January 5), UK Music – whose CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is among those set to give evidence to the inquiry this morning – have published their Let The Music Play report, which they say “outlines a clear strategy to protect and support the multi-billion pound live music industry so it is ready to restart when safe to do so later this year”.
“The music industry has worked hard to make event spaces as safe as they can possibly be,” UK Music said in a statement accompanying the new report. “This includes launching testing pilots to be able to hold mass events safely, working with government to develop guidance for how to hold events safely, and looking at new ventilation and air purification systems that would dramatically reduce the risk of transmission.
“But there is no certainty about when the industry will be allowed to hold mass events once again.”
The report warns that the lack of coronavirus cancellation insurance is “the biggest barrier to major events happening in 2021”, and calls on the UK Government to implement an insurance scheme as it has done for the film and TV sector.
While UK Music welcomed the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which helped support the live music industry during the pandemic last year, the sector still “urgently needs to be able to plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season” this year.
Among the key calls for action in the organisation’s Let the Music Play report is “an indicative date for a full capacity restart” for venues and festivals, a government-backed indemnity scheme and targeted financial support for the live music industry.
UK Music are also calling for an extension to the VAT rate reduction on tickets, a rollover of the paid 2020 Local Authority licence fees for festivals to 2021 and an extension to business rates relief.
The organisation have also warned that up to 50% of the UK music festival industry’s workforce are at risk of being made redundant after a disastrous 2020 for the sector, while further reiterating fears that up to 71% of musicians are either actively considering leaving the sector or are unsure if they will continue (according to a recent survey conducted by the Musicians’ Union) due to the effects of the pandemic on the music industry.
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“While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight,” UK Music’s Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said. “Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.”
Njoku-Goodwin added that the “clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty”.
“With the right support the live music industry can be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery and play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural revival – but there will need to be a concerted effort from industry and the Government together if we are to let the music play and save our summer.”
Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis said over the weekend that he hopes the festival, which was cancelled in 2020, would be able to return this summer providing that the “majority” of the UK’s population is vaccinated against coronavirus by June. In December, Emily Eavis stressed that Glastonbury 2021 has “not [been] cancelled yet”.
“We don’t need a vaccination because we can work through the problem with a really good testing regime. We’ll be able to do this by next year ,” he said.
“If there is a vaccine, there will be sufficient for the old and the vulnerable. Young people can resist it. The government know that now. In March and April, they didn’t know that. Everybody was shit-scared and that’s inevitable, but as we’ve learned more, we know the strong and healthy are able to survive it.”