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Fragile UK music industry calls for support amid slow recovery

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The multibillion-pound UK music industry remains almost a third smaller than before the pandemic as rampant inflation, soaring costs and Brexit red tape threaten to derail its fragile recovery, a report warns.UK Music, the umbrella body representing the industry from artists and record labels to live performance, is calling for a package of support including tax relief, a VAT cut for struggling venues and a streamlining of restrictions affecting workers and touring between Europe and the UK.The organisation’s annual Music by Numbers report, which spans topics including music sales and licensing, stadium tours, gigs in grassroots venues and merchandise, found the industry’s contribution to the UK economy rose 26% year-on-year to £4bn in 2021.

However, this remains 31% down on the record £5.8bn in 2019.While music streaming boomed and sales of CDs and vinyl surged in pandemic conditions, the live music industry, which employs tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers and venue owners, was badly hit and continues to face a “fragile and precarious” recovery.Major events including Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park were cancelled last year, while music venues were able to open for just four months, limiting the return of workers and artists.In 2020 more than a third of UK music industry workers, 69,000 in total, lost their jobs.

Their numbers rose 14% to 145,000 last year, however this remains 26% fewer than the 197,000 employed in 2019.“Our workforce has been demoralised and decimated,” said Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music’s chief executive. “The fact that tens of thousands of them have still not returned should worry policymakers and the public alike.

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