UK Music warns festivals could be cancelled this summer

© Rob Jones

UK Music has released a new report outlining its strategy on how best to restart the live music industry when it is safe to do so later this year. 

UK Music has shared its latest report, Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021. It was unveiled today (5 January) ahead of UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin’s appearance at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s (DCMS) inquiry into the future of UK music festivals. It also arrives on the same day that the UK heads back into a national lockdown. 

In the report, Njoku-Goodwin stresses the importance of live music for the UK music industry and discusses its economic impact as well as its “huge social and cultural benefits”. He goes on to argue that the music industry will have a “key role to play in the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery”, and that it is in the “national interest for the sector to be supported and helped back to normal”. 

He suggests that the vaccine roll-out means that there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel”. He also states: “Summer might seem a long way off, especially when we are in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19. But we operate to long lead times as a sector and now is when the key decisions about the summer music season are being taken.”

Among the key measures UK Music is calling on the government to bring in are targeted financial support for the live industry, “an indicative date for a full capacity restart” for venues and festivals and an extension to the VAT rate reduction on tickets. It’s also calling for a rollover of the paid 2020 Local Authority licence fees for festivals to 2021, a government-backed indemnity scheme as well as an extension to business rates relief.

“While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight,” says Njoku-Goodwin, in a statement that was released alongside the new report. “Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.”

He elaborates, “In this report, UK Music is putting forward a clear plan for recovery: what we need to do to get the live performance sector back up on its feet again in 2021. But the clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty… With the right support the live music industry can be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery and play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural revival – but there will need to be a concerted effort from industry and the Government together if we are to let the music play and save our summer.”

The inquiry into the future of UK music festivals opened today and saw the likes of Anna Wade, Communications and Strategy Director at Boomtown Fair, and Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife and The Warehouse Project, giving evidence and discussing topics such as the vaccine roll-out, financial support and government insurance. MPs later heard from Njoku-Goodwin, Paul Reed – CEO of Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – and Steve Heap, general secretary at the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO).

You can read UK Music’s Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report in full here.

We recently spoke to five festival organisers about how the vaccine has impacted their future plans. Read the feature here.