Stars from the UK’s live music sector, alongside thousands of venues, crew and industry figures, are today issuing an urgent plea for support from the UK Government during what would have been the UK’s world-famous festival season.  

The appeal, made in a Letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, is signed by 1,500 artists, many of whom were due to perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, Kendal Calling, Green Man, Latitude, All Points East, Parklife, TRNSMT, and hundreds more across the country. More than 500 venues and nearly 4,000 production crew vital to the success of the industry have also added their names.  

The call to Government comes as new research commissioned by the industry demonstrates the vital economic contribution of the live music sector. As well as supporting 210,000 jobs across the country, venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5 bilion to the economy in 2019. 

But, because they’re unable to operate with any level of social distancing, concerts and festivals are unlikely to take place again in the UK until 2021 at the earliest. Many hundreds of redundancies have already been made, with the potential for tens of thousands to follow this year.  

In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.  

“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.” 


To coincide with the letter, hundreds of artists, venues, concerts, festivals, production companies and other people across the industry will today begin posting films and photos of their last live gig under the banner #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans will also be encouraged to post about the last gig they went to, all in a mass show of support for the UK’s world-leading live music industry during its shutdown. 

By head of population, the UK is the second biggest live music market in the world. But, despite the global influence and economic importance of British live music, government support for the sector continues to lag behind other countries. The German government recently announced €150m in financial support for live music as part of a €50 billion package of grants and loans for the cultural sector, and France has announced a further €50 million to “build support plans” for the live music industry. 

Liam Gallagher said: “Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love. I can’t wait to get back to playing for the fans. But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry. There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live.” 

Emily Eavis, Glastonbury organiser, commented: “The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges. If the Government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.” 

Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters’ Association, said: “July would normally see the UK embarking on a world-famous summer of live music, but this year the lights are switched off and the microphones unplugged. Live music has sought to play its role in helping tackle Coronavirus, with many artists providing entertainment for people from their homes. But our shut down is likely to go on for much longer than most with many concerts and festivals unable to operate until 2021 at the earliest. Without rapid government support, the long-term impact will be devastating, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled jobs and billions of pounds from the UK economy.” 

Data shows that the biggest economic impact from the live music shutdown is likely to be felt regionally, where concerts and festivals have been proven to bring huge benefits.  

  • One sell-out full capacity night of live music in Birmingham would generate £3 million for the local economy.  
  • The Great Escape festival in Brighton generates £16 million worth of business for artists, managers, songwriters, producers and production services. 
  • TRNSMT festival in Glasgow generates a local economic impact of £10 million.   
  • Glastonbury Festival generates more than £100 million a year for local businesses and charities. 
  • Belladrum Festival in Inverness, Scotland’s biggest camping festival, contributes £5 million each year to the local economy. 
  • Ed Sheeran’s four shows at Chantry Park in 2019 boosted the Ipswich economy by £9 million. 

Because of the complex challenges the live music industry faces, it will be one of the last sectors to reopen. As other parts of the economy start to reopen, the live music industry is calling on the Government to provide vital sector-specific support, including:

  • A clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing.   
  • A comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance. 
  • Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.

The business and employment support package should include: a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed to prevent mass redundancies; rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen; an extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain to protect our ecosystem; rolling-over fees for single premises event licences for festivals; and financial support for lost box office income.