Manchester music venues Deaf Institute and Gorilla to close
(Credit: Alani Cruz)

The Covid-19 pandemic is set to halve the size of the UK music industry

A new report has looked into the hellish effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the UK music business and states that it could lead to the industry halving in size this year. The downturn could see music’s contribution to the UK economy being reduced by £3billion.

UK Music, which represents the industry, has published its annual ‘Music by Numbers’ report which takes a close look at how the economy of the industry is coping and, in the latest study, it appears as though the financial accounts have been annihilated by the pandemic. The report states that last year saw the industry grow 11% to £5.8billion but 2020 is expectedly to be a wildly different story. As there has been no live music this year at all levels, ranging from bands playing Wembley all the way to grassroots venues, the impact has been huge. The report predicts that the music industry’s impact on the economy is going to drop to around the £3billion mark from £5.8bn.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, the chief executive of UK Music, said that the pandemic has been a “catastrophic blow” which could lead to a large chunk of the near 200,000 people who work in the industry across the UK being at risk of losing their jobs.

“Our music industry is a key national asset,” said Njoku-Goodwin. “As this report shows, it contributes £5.8bn a year to the economy, generates £2.9bn in exports and supports almost 200,000 jobs. The UK music industry was a vibrant, fast-growing and commercially successful sector before the pandemic hit.

“In aggregate over 65% of music creators’ income will be lost as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and this could extend to over 80% for those most reliant on live performance,” the report said.

One area of the industry which has grown in a catastrophic year for the industry is streaming. Although the report doesn’t go into specifics, earlier this year Spotify, claimed an increase of almost 30% in paying subscribers during the lockdown. However, the growth of the streaming giant doesn’t necessarily correlate with artists being paid fairly. United Musicians and Allied Workers Union (UMAW) are campaigning for Spotify to raise its average streaming royalty from $.0038 USD to a penny per stream for all artists.

“We know what an immensely tough year 2020 has been for the music industry as a result of Covid-19,” said Caroline Dinenage, the minister for digital and culture. “That is why the government stepped in with an unprecedented £1.57bn culture recovery fund to help the sector weather the impact of coronavirus and protect music venues, festivals and our vital cultural assets.”

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