The UK’s live music sector is facing the loss of 170,000 jobs – almost two-thirds of its workforce – as the beleaguered industry approaches a “cliff edge” after the winding up of the government’s furlough scheme at the end of the month.
The sector, which has, in effect, been shut down since March, is estimated to be hit by an 80% decline in revenues this year, according to a report.
The research, conducted on behalf of Live, the umbrella group representing the live music industry, estimates that 64% of the sector’s 262,000 workers will be out of a job by Christmas.
The hardest hit will be the 210,000 self-employed and freelance workers who have full-time equivalent roles, with 144,000 expected to lose their jobs. Of the 52,200 permanently employed staff, half are predicted to lose their jobs when the furlough scheme ends.
Three-quarters of live music employees have been on the furlough scheme. Businesses operating in the industry have not been able to reopen since the start of the national lockdown seven months ago, making them ineligible for the chancellor’s new scheme, which starts next month.
The extended job support scheme, which Rishi Sunak says will protect “viable” jobs, applies only to businesses that are forced to close because of localised coronavirus restrictions – not those already shut.
Phil Bowdery, the chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are caught in a catch-22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended job support scheme as the furlough comes to an end.
“If businesses can’t access that support soon then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”
The research, by Media Insight Consulting, reveals that the government’s £1.57bn culture recovery fund is estimated to have so far saved 10,000 full-time equivalent roles in the live music sector. However, the report says the fund, which has awarded £333m to almost 2,000 businesses in the arts sector, will not prevent potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost.
Chris Carey, an economist and co-author of the report, said: “From the artists on stage to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”