COVID-19 wiped out 69,000 jobs in the music industry – one in three of the total workforce – says a new UK Music report.

UK Music’s This Is Music 2021 annual report reveals the devastating impact of COVID-19. Now, the organisation is calling on the Government to introduce tax incentives and other employment-boosting measures to help the sector rebuild after the pandemic. It also called for urgent action to resolve the problems facing musicians and crew touring the EU.

The measures are outlined in a new Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan – drawn up by UK Music and included in the new report.

The key findings about the music industry contained in This Is Music 2021 include:

  • Employment plunged by 35 per cent from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020
  • Music industry’s economic contribution fell 46 per cent from £5.8bn to £3.1bn in 2020
  • Music exports dropped 23 per cent from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion in 2020

Glastonbury was among the hundreds of festivals and live music events cancelled after the first in a series of lockdowns was imposed in March 2020.

The impact was felt right across the industry as studios and venues were forced to close, and musicians and crew were unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many were not covered by Government support schemes.

The huge economic contribution that music made to the UK economy in 2019 almost halved as a result of the pandemic – falling by 46 per cent from a record £5.8 billion (GVA) in 2019 to £3.1 billion in 2020.

The pandemic triggered a wave of job losses across the UK music industry, which saw one in three jobs lost in the sector as the employment level fell by 35 per cent from 2019’s all-time high of 197,000 to 128,000 in 2020.

Exports suffered a 23 per cent drop from £2.9 billion in 2019 to £2.3 billion last year, according to the flagship economic study, which UK Music has carried out since 2013 with its members.

UK Music’s chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the report provided clear evidence of the need for swift Government action to help the music industry to continue rebuilding and return to growth post-pandemic.

He outlined five key areas where swift action from the Government would help the industry create thousands of new jobs and provide a rewarding career for thousands of people.

UK Music is calling on the Government to implement:

  • Tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs
  • Urgent action to remove the barriers to touring the EU
  • A permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets
  • More funding and support for music exports
  • Boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline

Njoku-Goodwin said: “The past 18 months have been exceptionally challenging for the UK music industry, with billions wiped off the value of the sector – but we are determined to look to the future and focus on recovery.

“Music matters to us all. And in a year when we’ve seen just how important music is to all our lives, it’s more important than ever that we take the necessary steps to protect, strengthen and grow the industry.

“In our Music Industry Strategic Recovery Plan we identify the policy interventions required and set out a clear action plan to get the industry back up on its feet.

“With the right support, the UK music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery. This Is Music sets out the positive role the music industry can play in our country’s future, and the steps that need to be taken to achieve that.

“Music is a key national asset, part of our history and our heritage. More than that, it’s part of our future. And we can’t value it highly enough.”


About The Author