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55% of UK musicians are currently earning ‘nothing’ from music


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Since March, we’ve tried to find the good news within the Covid-19 pandemic, in terms of relief efforts and innovation to help musicians and their teams. Sometimes, though, we have to bring you the unvarnished bad news about the difficulties being faced in this crisis. The latest survey from UK charity Help Musicians is one of those stories.

The charity surveyed more than 1,300 musicians in the UK, and found that 96% have lost “the majority” of their income, while 55% aren’t earning anything at all from music at the moment. Only 19% expect their income to return to normal by April 2021, while 89% are worried about the next year of their career, and 76% are worried about whether they can even stay in the music industry longer-term.

Meanwhile, 43% said they are worried about losing their home, while 81% are anxious about paying their household bills. It’s a grim picture of the totality of the UK music-making sector: not just featured artists, but session and touring musicians, songwriters and more. It’s the feeder and support ecosystem upon which the higher levels of the music industry stand.

“Our new research shows the situation is awful – almost half of musicians are already worried about losing the roof over their head.. What’s more their options to find alternative jobs are severely limited because the economy is in recession,” said Help Musicians CEO James Ainscough. A UK story, but the sobering survey results will be reflected in a number of other countries.

The charity’s hardship fund has already paid out more than £11m  ($14.3m) to musicians since the start of the pandemic, and a recent £1m donation from the UK’s Arts Council is helping it extend the fund until the spring of 2021 – but with an “avalanche” of new applications expected in the next few weeks, Help Musicians is seeking more donations “large and small” for the fund.

Stuart Dredge

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