Warning over further restrictions to live venues

Music industries expert warns delay to lifting restrictions could lead to financial collapse.

A music industries expert at Birmingham City University has warned that a further delay to the lifting of the last social contact restrictions will lead to music festival and venue line-ups being scrapped, millions of pounds in income lost, artist tours being cancelled or rescheduled, and countless of hours of work being lost for struggling freelance production professionals.

Dr Matt Grimes, Course Leader in Music Industries at Birmingham City University, said of the decision, “For an industry that relies heavily on future dates and social contact, a delay in implementing the last step could be the final blow for many music industry careers and business who have struggled financially throughout the past 15 months.

“Under the current Stage Three restrictions, music venues and festivals – from small grassroots spaces that can hold 100 people through to stadiums and festivals that can hold tens of thousands of music fans – are operating at a reduced capacity, meaning customer numbers and potential income are also reduced, or postponing until 2022.

“Most audiences for live music performances currently are seated, with singing and dancing largely prohibited. Clubs and late night venues, an important sector within the music industries and night time economies, depend on a more relaxed setting and therefore will likely bear the brunt of the impact from the anticipated delay.

“The lead in time for organising events of any size is perhaps longer than people realise as there is so much to coordinate in terms of logistics, personnel availability, Health and Safety and risk assessments, the list is endless. These all have cost implications and having to postpone, at the last minute, for another four weeks could be financial collapse for many business and freelance careers in the music and entertainments industries.

“Given the success of the vaccination programme, a partial return to normality for society, and some positive noises until the last week from Government that final social contact limit will be lifted as planned, thousands of business operating in these areas have been planning, booking, contracting and preparing to either open or step up their activities.

“A delay in moving to Stage 4 will see line-ups scrapped, millions of pounds in income lost, artist tours cancelled or rescheduled, and countless hours of work for freelance production professionals – the sound and lighting engineers, the tour managers, the merchandise teams etc – completely wiped out again.”