One in three UK music jobs wiped out by COVID, report says

Musicians protest highlighting their inability to perform live or work during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
Musicians perform near the houses of Parliament during a protest highlighting their inability to perform live or work during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, London, Britain, October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out one in three jobs in the UK music industry, a trade body said on Tuesday, as it called for government support to help the sector recover.

The number of jobs fell 35% to 128,000 in 2020 from 197,000 in 2019 as the pandemic shut down live events and forced studios to close their doors, UK Music said in its annual report.

Some 69,000 jobs were lost in a sector where three quarters of workers are self-employed and did not receive help from government support schemes, according to the "This Is Music 2021" report.

The music industry's contribution to the UK economy fell 46% to 3.1 billion pounds ($4.26 billion) in 2020 from 5.8 billion pounds in 2019, the report added. Exports fell 23% to 2.3 billion pounds.

"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," UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said.

UK Music called on the government to introduce tax incentives and employment-boosting measures, and to help musicians and crew deal with the paperwork and extra costs involved in touring mainland Europe after Brexit.

It said it also wants a permanent reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) rate on tickets and live music events, more funding and support for music exports as well as funding for music education and for the self-employed.

After imposing the first national lockdown in March 2020, the British government announced a 2-billion-pound culture recovery fund to help museums, cinemas, theatres, cinemas and arts venues.

Entertainment venues have since reopened and late summer festivals including the Reading and Leeds twin events resumed.

($1 = 0.7283 pounds)

Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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