A new survey published by the Musicians’ Union (MU) has found that 34% of British musicians are thinking about giving up their music career thanks to the impacts of COVID-19 on the music and events industry.
A total of 2,000 union members were surveyed and the results are worrying.
Nine in 10 respondents (88%) believe the government has not done enough for the music industry throughout the pandemic. The lack of support has meant there are hundreds of thousands of people left in limbo.
Eighty-seven percent of those who were covered by the furlough scheme have also said they’ll experience financial problems once it ends. And as the scheme is due to wind up in October, the industry is in need of emergency action.
Currently, moral is low within the music community.
It isn’t just musicians feeling the strain but all the venues, festivals and people behind the scenes that make our favourite events happen, too.
Many people are still out of work and without hope of things changing soon.
So, it’s no wonder some are considering packing it all in and turning to other careers.
Reports have suggested that people have been forced to seek out additional work as delivery drivers or supermarket assistants in order to make ends meet.
“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.”
These findings arrive before even more restrictions were announced by Boris Johnson last night.
The rules particularly affecting the music industry include the 10pm curfew, table service only and the “rule of six”. It’s believed that implementing these will make putting on events impossible, killing the industry further.
Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy advisor for Greater Manchester, has widely shared his views on the matter. On hearing the announcements yesterday, he called for more support from Rishi Sunak. He tweeted:
The Warehouse Project and Parklife boss has warned that three out of five Manchester venues and night-time businesses could close for good without extra help.
Members of the industry have taken matters into their own hands in recent months.
In August, PLASA – the organisation behind the #WeMakeEvents campaign – held a march in Manchester where 100,000 industry members walked through the city in silent protest.
The march called for financial help for the music industry through grants and the consideration of extending the furlough scheme until it was safe to return to work.
Another peaceful #WeMakeEvents demonstration outside Parliament is planned for September 29.
They hope to raise awareness of the unemployment risk, as thousands are at risk of losing their livelihood as a result of current restrictions.
Organisers are urging people to arrive masked up, remain socially distanced and sign in to Track and Trace to make sure the demonstration adheres to Covid-19 guidelines.
Manchester without music is a worrying prospect.
Hello Cosmos wow Stockport on a night where the venue shone just as bright as the music
We had the pleasure of going along to see Hello Cosmos play a special one-off show at none other than St Mary’s Church in Stockport town centre on Friday night, just the gig the building has ever seen and given how incredible an experience it was, we hope there’ll be many more.
Picture the scene: it’s a frosty Foodie Friday night in Stockport with people wearing beer jackets and sharing hot street food to keep warm as the tunes ring around the marketplace; then you spot some light off in the background and notice the windows of the old town centre church glowing.
Not only was that our signal to get a move on, finish our scran and head over to the intimate gig, but it was also a beacon of light for other punters to go and check out as they looked for any excuse to come in from the cold.
And that’s pretty much how it happened. Our three-man party was full of SK natives who wanted to see what it would be like to have a church we grew up with turned into a gig venue, so we were always on board, but plenty of other locals had the pleasure of simply stumbling upon tickets at the door.
We don’t think we’d be putting words in their mouths to say they will have been glad they did, as within a few seconds of walking into the oldest parish church in Stockport, we had never seen the already ornate and historical site look so stunning.
This wasn’t just a case of plonking some speakers and some drums near the altar like some half-arsed church fête, the roof, windows, pillars and various arches were all lit up by various multi-coloured projectors and strobes and it all felt pretty surreal.
If you’ve ever watched any kind of performance at Manchester Cathedral or a similar venue, you’ll know this kind of set-up is nothing new per se, but it did feel like something different for Stockport, especially when one of our party’s last memories was standing at the pulpit to read the Christmas story.
Then the music kicked off and we have to start by saying we were pretty impressed by the two support acts, Fondabath — fellow Stopfordians who were probably just as surprised to be in St Mary’s as we were — and Big Society, also local lads, both of which gave plenty of reason to go away and listen to more.
Then came the main event, Hello Cosmos, spearheaded by frontman and bass player Ben Robinson, who along with his jumpsuited bandmates wasted no time in transporting the crowd to what felt like a little pocket of space in some alternate reality.
Having had a few drinks and being given kaleidoscope glasses on arrival certainly helped, but it really was a truly audio-visual experience, from the various coloured jumpsuits and neon hula-hooping to the truly mesmerising light show that lit up the church throughout the set.
It all felt rather fittingly though when you take into account that Robinson is not just a musician but the founder of both Kendal Calling and bluedot Festival — I mean, even their sophomore album Golden Dirt has a glowing spaceman walking through a sea of sunflowers.
If you’ve never heard them before, think post-punk spoken word and almost Yard Act vibes, only if Christopher Ecclestone was on vocals instead. But their sound is truly sprawling, with ‘Fuse’ from their debut record giving the harder-hitting sounds and ‘Loud is Beautiful’ showing how they best intertwine electronics, keys and those oh-so-good horns from sax player Elara.
Be it jumping up and down in unison as the electric violinist played or Ben dropping to his knees to scream his head off, hopping off stage to walk around the crowd with a megaphone or releasing a sea of balloons from above for the big finish, this ‘Live at St Mary’s’ one-off special had a bit of everything.
It went from a little gig on a random winter evening in Stockport to an unforgettable one that SK-born gig-goers like us never thought we’d see in this particular borough of Greater Manchester whose culture and music scene are clearly thriving.
We really hope this is among the first of many — Hello Cosmos helped make it a success and we can seriously see the Live at St Mary’s series taking off if it continues to get the backing.