Why everyone must do more for the music industry's self-employed workers

Music Week

The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. It has cut a swathe through almost every country in the world, hitting rich and poor alike.

And it’s the same in business. The economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has hit companies at the top of the FTSE 100 and small independent start-ups alike.

In the music business, the devastation of almost every sector has been tough to watch, harder to write about. But while the big companies may have the resources to cope, in the music industry there is an army of self-employed workers for whom several months without work could mean the end of their careers.

So while Live Nation’s stockmarket crash and the postponement of huge events, from Glastonbury Festival to our own Music Week Awards (now moving to a new date on September 21), have drawn the headlines, it’s important to remember the freelancers and SMEs without whom the industry would fail to function.

It’s been horrible to see social media posts from live businesses, small venues, independent PRs and the like talking about the overnight destruction of their business. Even worse to hear the off-the-record stories of companies – many big enough to take a short-term hit – immediately cancelling self-employed workers’ retainers and working agreements.

Everyone has a business to protect, and there are tough times ahead for almost everyone. But the reason the music business works is because it’s a delicate, complex ecosystem in which everyone, from the smallest self-starter to the largest multi-national corporation, plays an important part.

When all this is over – and, one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, it will be – the demand for music will still be there, probably bigger than ever.

As the bosses of UK Music, AIM and the Creative Industries Federation have pointed out, the government needs to do more, much more. But if the music business is to bounce back, the industry itself needs to make sure that as much of the system that helped deliver the pre-coronavirus boom remains intact.

We should all remember that and support people and companies at every level of the business. That’s how we’ll beat this.

* For the very latest updates on the coronavirus' impact on the music business, click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

For more stories like this, and to keep up to date with all our market leading news, features and analysis, sign up to receive our daily Morning Briefing newsletter

subscribe link free-trial link

follow us...