Coronavirus: Katie Melua, Badly Drawn Boy and UB40 among stars speaking up for live venues | Ents & Arts News

ad_1]

In years to come, my hope is that my three children’s overriding lockdown memories aren’t of the days when mummy shouted a lot and didn’t shower, but instead of rocking out to Sweet Child O’ Mine during impromptu kitchen discos.

They’re admittedly less sparkly glam than Sophie Ellis Bextor’s now regular online kitchen discos, but they cheer us up.

And we’re not the only ones. Spotify has reported a 31% jump in paid subscribers during the coronavirus lockdown.

Other favourites blasting out across the nation’s kitchens apparently include REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It and Gerry And The Pacemakers’ You’ll Never Walk Alone, according to the Official Charts.

But alas, any revenue generated won’t do much to help to sustain the livelihoods of 145,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in the UK, plus thousands more performers and backstage workers who face redundancy.

Spotify doesn’t disclose how much it pays artists per stream but analysts suggest it’s around 0.28p (split between record labels and artists), and YouTube pays less than half that. So while streaming may help fuel the growth of the music industry, their contribution isn’t enough to be the main source of income for most musicians.

Indeed there was a backlash when Spotify recently launched a “tips jar” to encourage fans to tip their favourite artists – highlighting to many that perhaps the platform itself should share more with the musicians it hosts.

And it’s not just the tech giants who seem reluctant to pay.

As much of the creative industries seek to find virtual ways of keeping the show on the road, this new way of entertaining often proves a challenge to monetise, with many streamed shows asking for voluntary contributions.

It’s strange. People seem more than happy to pay (often excessive) prices for show tickets, but seem to feel entertainment online should be free.

We want the full experience and the music industry has evolved to become increasingly reliant on income from live gigs and concerts, so somehow a solution must be found to fill the void.

UK Music has warned that the contribution of live music to the UK economy is set to drop from an estimated £1.1bn to £200m, predicting thousands of job losses, with 82% of music venues at risk of immediate closure.

While the #saveourvenues campaign has raised over £1 million to help some 550 small venues, it says there is a long way to go.

Badly Drawn Boy performing as support for James at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 18, 2018 in Scarborough, England
Image:
Badly Drawn Boy is supporting the Save Our Venues campaign

“While the latest government advice indicates that some pubs and bars may be able to open as early as July… it is unclear when music venues will be able to open and what form that might take,” says Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust.

Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, who has a new album out next week, tells Sky News he passionately supports the #saveourvenues campaign.

“I’ve had the pleasure to play so many amazing venues all across the world over the years, even in Manchester – the Apollo, the Academy, Night and Day, The Ritz,” he says. “Too many to mention.

“They’re such an important part of people’s lives and communities. It would be such a tragedy if some of these had to close as a result of this pandemic.”

Ali Campbell of UB40 performs during Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Orlando on March 11, 2017 in Orlando, Florida
Image:
Ali Campbell says acts like UB40 wouldn’t have got their big break without smaller venues

UB40’s Ali Campbell echoes that sentiment, telling Sky News it’s the small venues that are “essential for keeping music alive”.

“When we started playing the London circuit we’d only played half a dozen shows at “Dingwalls” 100 Club etc (tiny venues that were a must to play).

“When Chrissie Hynde caught us at the Rock Garden and invited us on her tour of the UK we kissed the tiny venues goodbye, but if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have got our break.”

Katie Melua is also keen to speak up for venues, telling Sky News she is concerned about all the people behind the scenes.



Katie Melua hopes that the live music industry can return even stronger when coronavirus danger passes



Katie Melua hopes for new start for live music

“The live industry is just stood still at the moment and that doesn’t just affect the pop side of things it affects everyone, it affects the venues, the promoters, everyone that is benefiting from this huge, huge industry,” she says.

But despite the seemingly desperate situation, Melua has hope for the future.

“I do hope that when we do get to come back there will be such a great hunger for good shows, for the theatre and the ballet and the classical music, it will be quite exciting when it hopefully restarts again.”

However, while many pin their hopes on concert tickets held for the autumn, the future is uncertain.

The UK Live Music Group chair Greg Parmley tells Sky News that without further help the industry may never recover.

“The live music industry has collapsed as a result of coronavirus and it will be one of the last sectors to emerge from this crisis,” he warns.

“Removing existing support, such as the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed, before live music resumes will trigger thousands of redundancies.”

:: Listen to the Backstage podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

According to the Association of Independent Festivals, 92% of its members face collapse, with three quarters of the industry’s workforce furloughed.

Stuart Galbraith, founder of one of the UK’s largest events companies, Kilimanjaro Live Group, says this crisis was beyond anything he could have imagined.

“Literally our business closed overnight… we’ve had to reschedule 350 shows, close two West End musicals, cancel one festival and move another,” he says.

Mr Galbraith says although the government’s furlough scheme has been a lifeline, they now need more clarity and support.

“The government can’t tell us we can’t operate and expect us to survive without support… We need some clarity on when we will be able to run again and under what parameters.”



Sky News

Leave a Reply