#WME – LET MUSIC LIVE

Musicians united in London’s Parliament Square and Birmingham on Tuesday 6th October at 12:00.

Leading musical figures including Nicola Benedetti, Raphael Wallfisch and Tasmin Little joined, supported and united with 400 freelance professional musicians from all parts of the music industry to perform in Parliament Square. We stand with #WeMakeEvents and the Musician’s Union to ask for industry-targeted support and investment. 

The musicians performed a segment of Holst The Planets before taking a minute’s silence to reflect the current blackout in many of the UK’s venues and festivals at the present time. 

Covid restrictions have disproportionately impacted the music and live events industries, resulting in an almost total loss of opportunity to work. We are musicians who are currently stripped of our community, our identities and our income. 

  • We are viable.The arts and culture industry contributes £10.8 billion a year directly to the UK economy (ONS), with growth in creative industries running at five times that of the rest of the economy. With effective short-term support, we will continue to make a positive impact. 
  • We are the destination. For every £1 directly spent on music and events, an extra £2 is generated in the wider economy (ACE), powering a network of businesses across the country. Supporting us means supporting the wider economy. 
  • We are valuable. The music sector is a world-leading asset to the UK. Its highly-skilled professionals are regarded as the world’s finest in recording award-winning film scores. The UK’s breadth and diversity of concerts, events, festivals and gigs is globally renowned, bringing life to our towns and cities and attracting over 40% of inbound tourist spend (ACE). Providing inspiration and joy to everyone through our work in the community, from schools to care homes, we help make life worth living. 

Yet the largely freelance workforce that makes up the music industry has not received the targeted support it needs to go forwards. According to Musician’s Union research, 70% of musicians are unable to undertake more than a quarter of their usual work. Two-thirds of musicians face severe financial hardship.  

The £1.57 billion government Fund for Culture looks unlikely to reach the majority of freelancers who make up the music sector, even though self-employed musicians also account for more than 80% of all contracted orchestral players. Offering support at only 20% of monthly income – for those lucky enough to qualify – whilst keeping restrictions in place for another six months, may put much of our skilled workforce out of business. With other European nations investing more in their creative industries through this difficult time, we also risk being left behind and losing our status as a leader in the field. 

  • We call on the Government to recognise that we are an economic asset. It is essential they invest in us so that we can continue to support the intricate network of businesses that rely on arts and events for their footfall. #wearethedestination 
  • We call on the Government for sector-specific support to reopen, including a subsidised concert ticket scheme while social distancing restrictions remain, and Government-backed insurance for live events and theatre performances. 
  • We call on the Government for targeted support for those skilled workforces forced to remain closed by Covid restrictions, so that we are still there to bring music to everyone when this is over. 

On behalf of freelance musicians, violinist Jessie Murphy said: “We want to show that our profession is viable, and valuable. Freelancing can be misunderstood, we play in the O2 one day, a small wedding the next, and a film recording session the day after. Each one of us is a small business that contributes both to the economy and the wellbeing of the country.”

Horace Trubridge, Musicians’ Union General Secretary, said: We know from the Union’s recent research just how many musicians are struggling financially and at real risk of leaving music for good. In better times, our members drive a £5bn music industry with their talent. One artist’s gig will create a domino effect of jobs, from lighting technicians to ticket sellers. If one musician is out of work, you can be sure many others will be affected too. We appreciate all the Government has done to support our members through the furlough and self-employment income support schemes so far, but they must not abandon musicians now. With social distancing measures still in place, venues can only sell at around 30% of usual capacity. We are calling on the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme, which would take venues’ potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry. Getting musicians back to work is the priority. However, this is simply not realistic for so many of our members while social distancing remains in place. We strongly urge the Government to recognise the unique situation that our members are in, and to provide sector specific financial support for musicians.”

The Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:The ISM is proud to back this important campaign which calls on the government to provide support for the thousands of self-employed musicians that have not been able to work since March and are now facing desperate financial hardship. The government must introduce a measure similar to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme so that self-employed musicians can keep going until they can work again. The UK music industry is known for its world-leading talent which makes a huge contribution of over £5bn annually to our economy, so it is vital that musicians are not forgotten. These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen and any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased.‘

WeMakeEvents said: “#WeMakeEvents is delighted that Let Music Live is lending its considerable support to the campaign. We have gained a lot of awareness through our recent activities, both with the public and the Government, particularly the Global Action Day on 30th September. We want that momentum to continue. Let Music Live is a wonderful way of garnering further support for our industry and those people and their families who are in need of help now.”