Over 1500 artists, including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Dua Lipa, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Skepta, have signed an open letter urging the Government to save the UK's live music sector.
With hundreds of grassroots music venues facing closure and the much of the workforce facing redundancy, the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign is calling on prime minister Boris Johnson and culture secretary Oliver Dowden to take urgent action in order to prevent industry collapse following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A letter addressed to Dowden reads: "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.
“This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The promoters, festival organisers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown.
"But, 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 great British industry."
The letter follows the publication of a five-stage reopening ‘roadmap’ by the Government last week, which was heavily criticised for lacking any clear dates, details or investment.
Speaking to Skiddle, Mig Schillace of The Louisiana in Bristol called the roadmap "useless".
"No concrete date has been given by the Government as to when venues will be able to welcome audiences again, and many are having to crowdfund to survive," he told us.
In response to the roadmap, the Music Venue Trust (MVT), which represents over 800 grassroots live music venues and has been campaigning to secure funding from the Government, published an ‘Alternative Road Map To Reopen Every Venue Safely’.
The MVT roadmap demands an immediate financial support package and for the Government to ‘get out of the way’ and ‘let them get on with it’.
Speaking to Skiddle, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said: “Essentially the Road Map we have created expresses how simple this actually is.
“We have proposed three cost neutral methods by which it could be achieved: £46 million for three months, a plan to reopen, and support to recover by bringing tax into line with our European competitors.
“The sector doesn't need more support than that right now because it has always been inventive, innovative, flexible. That's the very core of what it is and what it does. It simply needs Government to act to protect the incredible asset we have and then we can bring it back and let the music play again.”
Reacting to the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, a Government spokeswoman said: "We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of such as loans and the job retention scheme and we continue to look at additional support we can provide the industry.
"We recognise that this pandemic has created major challenges for the sector and are working closely with them to develop comprehensive guidance for performances and events to return as soon as possible."
Posting to Twitter, Dowden said: "I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music & the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates & to give you a clear roadmap back. These involve v difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives."
Despite the lack of clarity from the government, some live music venues are finding ways to reopen and get back to business.
One such venue is Band on the Wall in Manchester, which has announced plans to reopen on Saturday 4th July. Posting on their website, the famous gig venue, which has hosted the likes of Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Elbow and Paloma Faith said:
‘Due to the need for social distancing and to keep everyone safe, we are having to limit the number of people in the space, so we’re running a ‘beer festival’ format, with timed sessions and tickets booked in advance. This enables us to clear the space at regular intervals for multiple deep cleans throughout the day, manage crowds and collect names and contact information to help with the government’s track and trace advice.’
Well, that’s one way to do it.
You can read the open letter to the Government in full here.