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Music organisations call for significant and long-term support from European governments for an industry in crisis

By | Published on Friday 3 April 2020


A plethora of organisations representing all strands of the wider music industry have called on governments across Europe – and the institutions of the European Union – to significantly increase their support for the music community to ensure that music-makers and their business partners can survive the crisis caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. And that support needs to be substantial and long-term, they say, because the impact of the crisis is going to be felt long after measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 are lifted.

Those calls come in an open letter signed by pan-European organisations representing artists, songwriters, musicians, composers, record producers, orchestras, choirs, record labels, music publishers, collecting societies, music managers, venues, festivals, promoters, music educators and streaming services.

The letter notes that “music is one of the first sectors hit by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. It will also be one of the last. As borders close, venues as well as festivals suspend their activities, performances are cancelled, group activity is stopped, shops close, and new releases are put on hold, the entire creative value chain is stalling”.

“Artists and their management, performers, composers, songwriters, music educators, conductors, booking agents, record shops, labels, publishers, distributors, promoters, manufacturers, technicians, events managers and event staff count among the many actors of the ecosystem whose livelihoods are on the line”.

Stressing that this crisis will have an impact long beyond the actual COVID-19 shutdown, even once the live industry swings back into action, the letter continues: “These risks will persist, even after the public health emergency is solved. The stark reality is that profound harm will be felt long into 2021 due to how the music ecosystem operates”.

The letter later explains that “the full magnitude of the current turmoil will build for months and the number of casualties will be high. Even when the complete standstill ends, the crisis will continue due to hyper saturation of events and new releases and audiences will be unpredictable. All this points to a slow recovery, with less job opportunities, less participation in music and less room for artistic risk-taking. Jobs and diversity are at stake”.

“In light of this dire situation”, the organisations state, “we call for emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity”.

To that end, the letter calls on the European Commission and the governments of Europe “to take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music”. And, “under the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative it is imperative that each member state provides Europe’s creative sector with swift and comprehensive access to structural funds in order to offset the harm in the shorter term”.

Obviously – with the Brexit process already under way – the UK music industry will not directly benefit from any EU-led initiatives to help support the music and wider creative industry weather the COVID-19 storm and rebuild once it is over. Though the measures being proposed by the music industry’s pan-European representatives could be replicated by national governments in all markets, including non-EU countries like the UK.

The open letter concludes by noting how – while putting the music industry in crisis mode – the COVID-19 shutdown has also demonstrated the immense value of music to society at large. “Within the confines of their homes, artists and DJs have been streaming their own live performances to fight isolation by engaging online communities”, it says. “Drawing upon the example of Italy, citizens from across Europe gather on their balconies to play music and regain a shared sense of common purpose”.

“This reminds us”, the letter concludes, “that music is a vehicle to recreate a sense of community. In times of containment and pressure, music builds bridges between individuals and cultures irrespective of social, ethnic, cultural backgrounds. Music and culture are essential to offer citizens the renewed social and cultural bond that Europe will sorely need. As decision makers reflect on how to address the crisis, culture must be recognised as a priority sector”.