As the cost of living crisis continues to sweep the globe, 90% of musicians are worried about their ability to afford food, while 84% are concerned about paying their mortgage or rent, a new survey from UK charity Help Musicians has found.
The research, conducted amongst 525 UK music professionals this year, spotlights the devastating impact that the current economic downturn is having on UK musicians, alongside the lasting effects of the pandemic and Brexit. The culmination of these factors is causing many to consider leaving the industry, with almost half of respondents saying they are 'very' or 'extremely' concerned that they will be forced to abandon their profession altogether.
98% of professional musicians surveyed claimed to be concerned about their ability to earn sufficient income over the next six months, while many commented on what Help Musicians CEO James Ainscough describes as a 'cost of working' crisis within the industry, as rising costs make it impossible for musicians to afford essential equipment.
"It is hard to imagine any point since the Second World War when it has been tougher to be a professional musician - put simply, the current environment is brutal," Ainscough continued, in a statement shared with MusicRadar. "The pandemic had a catastrophic impact, with most simply unable to perform. Afterwards, venues were booked up for months or years in advance due to rearranged gigs. This has been followed by Brexit, which has impacted their ability to tour, for many emerging musicians a vital step in building a sustainable career."
These financial difficulties are having drastic knock-on effects on musicians' mental health. Help Musicians found that 88% of musicians are suffering from mental health issues that are affecting their work, while 68% report that their mental health is currently worse than before the pandemic struck. Musicians that find themselves struggling are encouraged to contact the charity's Music Minds Matter service, which supports the UK music community through a 24/7 mental health support line, free counselling, and financial aid.
Speaking of the urgent need to address the crisis musicians are facing, Ainscough continued: “We need to put significant time and resource into sustaining musicians over the coming, challenging months, if we are to have a thriving music ecosystem in 2023 and beyond. We cannot afford to lose any of the talent from our passionate community of UK musicians if we want to continue enjoying the music that inspires us all every day.”