COVID-19: new catalyser or initiator of the fall of the music industry?

Bijgewerkt: 30 jun 2020

The festival season approaches and COVID-19 still controls the music industry's every move. The arts and the UK’s economy face devastating financial losses. 



May 2020 

Source Innitmagazine


The UK Live Music Group states in UK Music that without the right Governmental support the UK will lose £900 million from the usual £1.1 billion that the live music sector contributes to the UK’s economy. That is more than 80%. The UK Live Music Group’s body consists of well-respected and professional leaders of the music industry that range from promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services. Besides the financial losses, UK Music states that COVID-19 will cause: 


  • Thousands of job losses

  • Risk of closure for over 500 ‘grassroots’ music venues (which is 82% of the total)

  • Closure of hundreds of business

  • An approximate recovery time of 3 to 4 years until the live music sector gets back to 2019 levels. 

Now that musicians and artists have lost live music performances, they have simultaneously lost their biggest source of revenue. Artists that are currently in the charts earn an indispensable amount of money from live events due to the 25 million people that visit concerts per annum. U2, for instance, who according to Billboard’s annual Money Makers report in 2017 made 95% of their total earnings from touring. Streams form a minor part of a musicians’ income. As music journalist John Harris mentions in The Guardian, YouTube’s average rate per-stream is 0.13p, and Spotify’s 0.26p.


When quarantine started there was a sudden overflow of free live streams. Now, two months into quarantine, artists are slowly changing their live stream attitude to develop a new source of sustainable income. Some artists charge for live streams or have a ‘pay as you please’ option, venues charge for online events and online festivals are selling tickets. Although it is challenging to sustain a reasonable amount of income, Cory Riskin, global music agent at APA, notices that artists can currently take advantage of virtual festivals. 


“The toughest thing for an artist is creating a new fan. Traditionally we do it by playing festivals but we’ve seen that these virtual festivals are the best way of getting new fans quickly.” 


This analysis shows that the loss of live festivals does not necessarily mean a decrease in fans. Quite oppositely, it can be a generator for a new audience and therefore increase an artists’ income. Artists should make the most of the current situation.