COVID-19: Music Managers Forum & Featured Artists Coalition data reveals the crippling impact of live music shutdown.

27 March 2020

Calls for industry to step up efforts to support artists, creators and the wider music community

  • Responses so far from 150+ music managers and artists indicate over £50m has already been lost to the wider music economy.  £68m+ losses are predicted if shows are cancelled over the next 6 months.
  • Most of the losses relate to live, however impacts on recordings, merch and brand deals are also substantial.
  • The music industry must step up to protect the longer-term viability of artists and music makers and implement measures including “recoupment holidays”, crisis funding, emergency advances and repurposing of “black box” revenues.
  • Following the news that self-employed workers will not receive government support until June, and many will not qualify at all due to limited company status, it is even more imperative that the largest music businesses and organisations increase efforts 

Friday March 27th 2020

The Music Managers Forum (MMF), the body representing more than 800 UK music management businesses and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), representing the rights and interests of the artist community, has today highlighted the crippling knock-on impact of live music shutdown due to the coronavirus with over £50m already lost to the wider music economy. This includes £3.1m lost by music managers in commissions. 

The findings are drawn from survey responses from more than 150 music managers and artists, detailing the impact of more than 2,100 cancelled shows, delayed campaigns and lost earnings.  

Aside from an immediate-term cash-flow crisis, the findings raise grave concerns for the commercial music sector’s longer-term sustainability. They signal the need for greater assistance from the UK’s largest music businesses and organisations – especially as Government support measures for the self-employed, announced last night, will not pay out until June, and many will not qualify at all. 

Artists, songwriters and other music makers provide the foundation for a £5.2 billion industry and more than 190,000 full-time jobs. According to UK Music research, 72% of the music business workforce is self-employed.  

Over recent days, a number of emergency funding initiatives have been launched – including those from Arts Council England, Help Musicians, the Musicians Union, PRS for Music and Spotify.  All are incredibly welcome at this moment. 

However, we are already seeing far more comprehensive support packages in other countries. For instance, GEMA, the German music licensing society has launched a €40m crisis fund for its songwriter members. The Swedish Government has announced a cultural response fund of €45m, while the Norwegian government has also earmarked significant new funding of €25m for their cultural sector.

Subsequently, MMF and FAC are calling on larger UK music businesses, particularly in the recorded sector which has recently announced record year-on-year profits from online streaming, to make similar efforts, and consider the following four measures as a matter of urgency:

  • Support for artists and songwriters: major labels, major music publishers and others who can afford it should offer artists and songwriters a “recoupment holiday” during a defined short-term period and pay streaming royalties straight through music makers regardless of the state of their balance. We would also like these companies to consider additional advances and moving contractual deadlines where possible. 
  • Crisis Support: Further direct contributions to emergency support funds for artists, musicians and their teams most of whom are freelance or micro-business. This will be essential to tide people over until government support comes through.
  • Redistribution of “Black Box” revenues: MMF & FAC fully support calls by the Ivors Academy for music licensing societies to divert “unattributable” royalty collections into an emergency hardship fund. The estimated size of such “black box” revenues was illustrated in the MMF’s $ong Royalties Guide.  
  • PRO advances: Music licensing societies should also consider making more accessible the advances on performer and composer royalties as loans against future payments. This would be of particular assistance to self-releasing or non-contracted artists, musicians and performers.

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF: 

“Artists and music makers are faced with a short term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe. This MMF and FAC survey is only a snapshot, but it highlights that millions of pounds have already been lost through cancelled shows and campaigns. With Government support for freelancers not kicking in until June we need the biggest record labels, music publishers and licensing organisations to act. We need them to do more, and we need them to do so now.” 

David Martin, GM, FAC: 

“It is evident that the artist and creator community is suffering enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While our survey only demonstrates a proportion of the actual losses, the numbers highlight the acute challenge facing artists and the existential threat that this presents to our wider industry.  We need all parts of the global music community to do their bit to support those that are most in need, and those with the greatest resource must do their fair share to provide this support.” 

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