COVID-19: Will The Live Music Industry Ever Revitalise Itself?


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This is it – this is the end. The rise of COV-19 is in full effect. The most recent epidemic stage has caused millions of businesses including live music venues, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs to shut their doors.

UK in Panic Amidst the Outbreak

The fact that this may be temporary or permanent is the real concern that is growing in the ranks of the promoters, technicians and the musicians themselves.

Where once the live music status and workforce thrived and provided more than £700 billion to the overall economy each year, it has now halted all production, creativity and ultimately, people’s drive for entertainment as we all scuttle away, inside our houses.

Now, the drive for workers requesting paid leave is rising just as much as the gig economy takes a fall, with some of the most favoured and desired music venues closing for the time being, until we are once again, allowed to be nose-to-nose with fellow music fanatics in the same personal space.

I attended what may be my last ever gig for at least a while a couple of weeks back. The artist – Jamie Callum if anyone is interested – jokingly announced that this gig may be the last ever for a while, and sure enough, Jamie cancelled his remaining UK tour shows that very next morning.

Artists seem lost as tours are cancelled across the UK

Cancellations of live music across the UK has halted all opportunity that the live music scene was receiving.

Before this virus hit like, well like a virus, the gig economy was increasing in value as more and more people were invested in watching their favourite band play live.

As record sales were deflating due to industry’s first initial death – digital streaming, more record companies had to find ways to bring in income some other way. And so, more was pumped into the live music industry for more entertaining and more accessible shows across the UK.

Bands used to go on the road to promote their new songs, now it seemed that bands pushed their songs to promote a tour. The primary motive had shifted.

For a moment, it seemed however consumers accessed their music, the taste to see it live had never really gone away.

Multiple cancellations result in apologies to fans

But, not now. Not after this. It will almost certainly take us months to recover from this fall. You never realise the full domino effect until it takes away something that is so important to you as an individual.

Artists find other means of revenue as live music stops

Before Friday, t seemed to settle in further when the Government did not take the necessary action to lessen the fall.

By urging the venues to ultimately “do the right thing” and shut down voluntarily, it essentially sparked outrage and unprecedented backlash to those venues that didn’t. This meant that the entire industry will have no financial help as they’re still “doing business,” no guidance from the government following this mere request, and have ultimately been made the scapegoat in all of this. Essentially making all of this the worst case scenario.

Following Friday though, it seems that Government actioned accordingly and has now ordered all closures for the foreseeable future.

But the problem is, there is no certainty when they will reopen. The human race is in free-fall and there is no rope to hold on to.

It could be weeks, months, years before we even get close to finding a viable vaccine. Of course, we could prematurely rush vaccine research, which can ultimately bring about a zombie crisis on our hands, which would not be ideal at all.

And so, for these music venues, they are desperate as ever to stay alive for as long as possible. Of course, with a restaurant you can still stay in business I guess, via takeaway outlets and such. But music venues? It’s not so easy.

The Leadmill in Sheffield sets the standard for independent music venues

The Leadmill in Sheffield have seemed to come up with an alternative to staying in business. In a ploy to term the plan as “supporting your local music scene,” the music venue, that has played from the likes of Green Day and Arctic Monkeys over the years, has organised a memorabilia auction.

Selling famous <signed> instruments that the bands have left over the years to 40th anniversary items, it has allowed to the venue flourish in revenue as they sell for a wealthy price.

A guitar, made from pieces of the Leadmill’s old floor, and signed by each member of the Arctic Monkeys, is one of the items up for auction.

“We do hope you will support us in this decision … we are an independent business with real people at the heart of it.

We will get through this Sheffield, we need our northern grit now more than ever!”

Bethany Okogba, Promotions Manager

With such venues like The Leadmill, reacting to the situation they way they have, you start to realise that maybe there is some hope out there for these venues. Sheffield’s most famous independent venue has developed a true answer to adapt and overcome and have begun to show how we can revitalise ourselves out of the pit we have gotten ourselves into.

With this in mind, whether this virus sticks around longer than usual, it is nice to know that as long as they’ve got each others backs, we can make it through with the same amount of venues as we did before all this apocalypse horror started.

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