Scottish music industry leaders have made a plea for more assistance from politicians to get ailing businesses through the current crisis.
Industry body UK Music has compiled a report on the impact of COVID-19 for MSPs at Holyrood, and concludes the impact of coronavirus could “cripple” Scotland’s music industry to an extent that it “may never recover” from the impact of the lockdown.
Scotland’s music industry has been estimated to be worth £431 million to the economy and last year was supporting 4300 full-time jobs.
And industry leaders have agreed with the report, stating their belief that social distancing will mean it is not economically viable for venues to reopen, at least not without financial support.
Mark Mackie of Regular Music believes that the furlough scheme should be extended, telling The National: “We have all been saying that October is too early for us. When we are up and running we are good contributors to the economy – VAT on all the ticket sales is worth billions every year – so a lot of money is raised through the music industry.
“We pay our way, so it is not like we are asking for something outrageous by asking for the furlough to extend until we are ready to open for business.
The Scottish Music Industry Association’s Robert Kilpatrick agrees, telling the BBC that a lack of financial support from the Treasury could “result in a period of inactivity that we wouldn’t be able to recover from.”
Also of concern is the fact that some venues are not eligible for any sort of government support, while 72% of music industry workers are self-employed and similarly finding it difficult to survive financially at present.
UK Music’s report also states: “Consultation suggests it may not be economically viable for many live venues to open alongside social distancing measures. Without appropriate support, the live sector may never recover from this economic hit.
“The Covid-19 public health crisis and subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures have also hurt the wider Scottish music industry.
Mackie believes that plans to reduce social distancing wouldn’t solve the problem.
“With one metre, capacity doesn’t jump up to 70% so we would still have problems,” he says. “I think that while social distancing is still an issue there won’t be concerts as we know it,” he said.
The UK Music survey has called for the creation of a dedicated taskforce to look at ways of securing the future of the live entertainment sector, as well as asking the Scottish Government to provide “clarity” on when it expects music venues to be able to return to normal and avoid an “indeterminate period of closure”.
The report states: “The Scottish live sector has been immediately impacted, having been shut down since March and it now faces an indeterminate period of closure as well as post-lockdown disruption.
“Lockdown has prevented new music being created in recording studios and rehearsal spaces, stopped the live sector from operating at all and has further harmed physical retailers, impacting on the whole music eco-system.
“The likely continuation of physical distancing under phase four of the Scottish Government’s route map highlights the importance of clear guidance to give those parts of the sector that can, the confidence to reopen safely.
“However, without further support it will not be economically viable for live venues to open with social distancing until there is a treatment or vaccine in place.”
The situation is particularly hard to take given that Scotland saw the strongest growth in music tourism in the UK, with numbers of fans coming to the country rising from 800,000 in 2017 to 1.1 million in 2018 – a 38% rise.