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The UK live music industry is set to lose more than 160,000 jobs by Christmas

(Image credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

The UK's live music industry is forecasted to lose half its full-time employees by Christmas, with more than 140,000 freelance, contracting and support roles already lost since coronavirus restrictions shut down the industry in March.

In a report commissioned by LIVE, the umbrella group representing the UK's live music industry, 26,100 full-time employees will face redundancy without government intervention, with the sector losing more than 161,000 jobs in total to the pandemic. 

Revenue will fall by 81 per cent in comparison with 2019, when the sector was worth £4.5 billion to the UK economy.

The report's authors, Chris Carey, head of international marketing at TicketSwap and  founder of Media Insight Consulting, and Tim Chambers, managing director at TJChambers Consultancy, described the live music sector's exclusion from the government's Extended Jobs Support scheme and the introduction of further restrictions via the new tiered system as a “hammer blow.”

The average fall in income this year across the artist sector is 65 per cent. This is a dramatic hit but it is not evenly distributed, many artists have lost closer to 100 per cent

David Martin, Features Artist Coalition

Breaking down the sector, the report catalogues some eye-watering figures. Grassroots music venues recorded a 75 per cent drop in revenues in comparison to 2019 figures. Technical supply companies providing PA, lighting and other services were hardest hit, with revenues down 95 per cent.

On average, artist revenues had fallen by 64 per cent, but as David Martin, CEO of the Features Artist Coalition, noted, there is no such thing as an average artist, with emerging and underground talent hit hardest from losing income from live music.

"Each is at the centre of their own unique business model, which sustains them and the teams around them," said Mr Martin. "The average fall in income this year across the artist sector is 65 per cent. This is a dramatic hit but it is not evenly distributed, many artists have lost closer to 100 per cent of their income."

While grants issued by the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) saved 10,000 full-time positions, reaching 1,974 organisations across the country, smaller organisations that could not meet the £50,000 minimum funding criteria missed out – as did freelancers, suppliers, and nightclubs.

Describing the mass redundancies and ensuing talent drain as "twin tsunamis," the report cast doubt on a quick recovery in 2021, with activity not expected to increase until spring.

You can read the full report here.