Covid 19 and the Music Industry: News Update and Thoughts

Now into my third month of lockdown, I thought I would start up a regular blog which highlights some of the developments concerning covid 19 on the music industry. The impacts of the pandemic seem to be changing every week, with the prospect of returning to ‘normal’ being as distant as when we started. Although some government support is there at the moment for our self-employed workforce, what actually is going to happen when it runs out in October? Having attended a number of ‘online’ gigs over the last few weeks, I am personally not convinced how readily grassroots level music will be monetized – which may result in many online gigs being an extension of an issue we currently have in society – expecting grass roots live music for free.

In terms of how music can engage with our local and national ‘recuperation’, Sound Diplomacy (the company that recently analysed Cardiff’s music ecosystem), recently launched a report that highlights the importance of music in the recovery of cities, with a nine point plan outlined as follows

1. Put artists to work: Incentivize creation from crisis.
2. Convert creativity into community investment vehicles.
3. Create a city music registry.
4. Start a cultural infrastructure plan.
5. Create emergency preparedness plans (venue, event, city-wide).
6. Ensure music, arts and culture language is included in policy frameworks.
7. Commit to genre agnosticism.
8. Plan and develop a night time economy policy.
9. Set-up city-wide artist compensation policies, music liaison services and fair play schemes.

With governments understandably working on priorities such as ensuring their populations are safe and that medical teams have the correct PPE, I would agree that it is essential that music (and the arts more generally) are included in government/city/town recovery policies as we move forward. The report rightly points out the importance of music as not only an artifact of aesthetic pleasure, but as a unifying force that brings communities together (be it by attending live music events, instrumental lessons, playing in bands, etc). Unification is something that so important in the current pandemic – where SEPARATION has been the dominant narrative. Both the aesthetic pleasure music brings and its associated community engagement both have an important part to play in our general well being – which is easily overlooked in times such as these. However, if we are are maximize the impact of music, governing bodies do of course need to be intentional in terms of how we use it – for by using IT we engage OURSELVES. My question is this: there does seem to be a strategy for the return of sport – so why not music?

Taking a step back, as opposed to how music can potentially be used, the issue of clarity of how the music industry moves out of lockdown, so it can be used, was highlighted this week by UK Music, whose Chair, stated

“The government is right to try to move towards kickstarting our economy, provided it can ensure protecting public health is paramount at all times. However, these latest proposals on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown are missing the clarity that the UK music industry so desperately needs”.

He continues

“There is a risk the British music industry will be left behind as other countries come out of lockdown”, […] “We cannot afford that to happen to the UK’s world-leading music industry which is really suffering”.

These concerns appear to be in sharp contrast to the activities taking place in New Zealand, who this week highlighted a plan to kick start their music industries, by announcing a ‘music recovery fund’ aimed specifically toward the popular music industry. The $16.5m fund includes $7.1m to boost the country’s on Air’s New Music programmes, $5m to assist Live Music Touring, and $3m to support ‘safe’ music venues. Maybe this is an approach that the UK could consider – or is it impossible to compare a small nation such as NZ to the UK? Maybe we can compare it to Wales though?

Finally, for those living in and around Cardiff – ‘We Are Cardiff’ have opened a repository of memories and experiences of lockdown. Although not music specific, it would be really useful to have some music based documents on there – so you can contribute by clicking here

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
This entry was posted in Covid-19, Music Industry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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