A survey conducted by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has found widespread evidence of cancelled work since COVID-19 restrictions eased on July 19. Confidence that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels of activity this year is low among professional musicians. The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, as live performance and international touring stopped and face-to-face music lessons were halted too.
573 professional musicians responded to the survey on the impact that the easing of restrictions on July 19 have had on their careers.
Key findings include:
· A third (33%) of musicians have had work cancelled by others or had to cancel work themselves since July 19.
· 90% of cancellations are COVID-19 related and work will not be covered by the treasury-backed reinsurance scheme.
· Over half (54%) have lost over £500 of potential earnings due to cancelled work since July 19.
· 62% have less work booked between July-September 2021 than they did in the same period in 2019 and only 9% have more.
· Only 23% are completely or somewhat confident their engagements will have returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.
The findings show clearly that COVID-19 is still harming professional musicians’ ability to work and to earn. Concerningly for the ISM, many of the cancellations due to COVID-19 cases and self-isolation orders are not covered by the treasury-backed reinsurance scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on August 5, leaving performers vulnerable.
While the reinsurance scheme has been welcomed, its introduction has been met with concerns that it does not cover enough COVID-19 related potential cancelations and it has come so late that months of live events have already been missed.
That most musicians are working less between July-September 2021 than they did in the same period in 2019 is particularly worrying as COVID-19 income support schemes such as furlough and SEISS are winding down.
Incorporated Society of Musicians Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said,
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been extraordinarily difficult for our musicians and performers and while many restrictions have been reduced, musicians have told us that they do not have the same amount of work booked as before the pandemic and confidence is low that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels this year.
Musicians are still losing money and having work cancelled due to COVID-19 cases or because of self-isolation regulations. Concerningly, these types of cancellations are not covered by the treasury-backed reinsurance scheme.
Performers primarily work on a freelance basis and therefore often have the least protections, don’t receive sick pay and cannot be furloughed.
We are calling on the Government to work with the sector to close the gaps in the reinsurance scheme and to take steps to protect musicians from further financial impact as our live sector continues to get back on its feet.”