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Music industry campaigning and lobbying group UK Music’s annual report has illustrated the huge impact Covid-19 has had on the industry, with the pandemic having wiped out 35% of the workforce in 2020.

The organisation’s This Is Music 2021 report found the industry’s workforce fell from 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2020, its economic contribution dropped 46% from £5.8bn to £3.1bn in 2020, and music exports were down 23% in value from £2.9bn in 2019 to £2.3bn last year.

The report noted the impact of the huge number of festivals and concert tours being cancelled, studios and venues being forced to close, and musicians and crew unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many were not covered by Government support schemes.

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the report provided clear evidence of the need for swift Government action to help the music industry to continue rebuilding and return to growth post-pandemic.

He outlined five key areas where swift action from the Government would help the industry create thousands of new jobs:

  • Tax incentives for the music industry to stimulate growth and jobs
  • Urgent action to remove the barriers to touring the EU
  • A permanent reduction in VAT rate on live music event tickets
  • More funding and support for music exports
  • Boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to help secure the talent pipeline

In addition to UK Music’s research, UK Music also commissioned Public First to survey the views of the general public on the music industry. Among the findings were that 75% of the public are proud of the UK music industry and its heritage, 59% believe music improves the UK’s reputation overseas and 74% said music is important to their quality of life.

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said, “The past 18 months have been exceptionally challenging for the UK music industry, with billions wiped off the value of the sector but we are determined to look to the future and focus on recovery.

“With the right support, the UK music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery. This Is Music sets out the positive role the music industry can play in our country’s future, and the steps that need to be taken to achieve that.”

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said, “I know how difficult the last year and a half has been – with venues closed, stages dark, and artists prevented from doing what they love. The whole industry has shown great strength, patience and resilience during these hard times, pulling together to help the whole country get through the Covid-19 crisis.

“Until now, our focus has been rescue and reopening. Now the priority is to ensure a strong recovery. The UK music industry is one of our country’s great national assets, and I give my commitment that the Government will continue to back it every step of the way.”