Scots music industry rack up £18.5m in losses as axe hangs over 2800 jobs

The shutdown of Scotland’s music venues has cost the industry £18.5 million due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was claimed today

More than half of the jobs in Scotland's music industry are said to be under threat. Picture: Ryan Buchanan
More than half of the jobs in Scotland's music industry are said to be under threat. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

Early research into the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, which is likely to continue well into 2021, has put about 2,800 jobs at risk – more than half of those in the sector.

The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) said the sudden closure of concert halls, clubs and arenas has had a “cascading” effect over the past three months.

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The SMIA said it would be “near impossible” for any venues to reopen while the two-metre social distancing rule is in place.

The findings emerged days after a study on the impact of Covid-19 on the creative industries warned that the effect in Scotland could be more severe than in any other part of the UK.

The Creative Industries Federation research said that nearly 7,000 jobs could go in Scotland by the end of this year.

An official report published last year suggested the-then booming Scottish music industry was supporting about 4,300 jobs and generated upwards of £430m in economic impact.

However, there have been predictions that three quarters of Scotland’s music venues may not survive the impact of the pandemic because it will not be viable for them to reopen while social distancing restrictions are in place.

MSPs were told last week that Scotland’s live music sector “may never recover” from the impact of the lockdown. The dossier from the industry body UK Music said the sector was “particularly vulnerable” to the pandemic due to its reliance on physical spaces, the fact that 72 per cent of its workers were self-employed and some venues not being eligible for government support.

Now the SMIA is warning that the shutdown is racking up at least £1.5m a week in lost revenue.

Its prediction of 2,800 job losses includes 414 full-time posts, 1,457 part-time jobs and 929 contractors or freelance staff.

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SMIA executive chair Dougal Perman said: “Losses in the live sector are cascading throughout the industry from artists, venues and promoters to booking agents, music managers through to rights holders, crew, events suppliers and into the wider creative industries supply web.

“Losing up to a year of events activity not only has a devastating effect on the cultural economy, but it will also have a huge knock-on effect on the future development of artists, businesses and staff. Devising a solution will require a large, radical, collaborative effort.

“Short term, there are obviously great concerns about jobs and businesses being lost due to the immediate economic shock of the shutdown.

“Medium and longer term, losing venues would be a huge blow to the music scene and its ecosystem. Live music has been such a big part of the business model for artists and promoters, but also for agents, managers, publishers and record labels.

“It is pretty bleak at the moment, but we’re trying to look constructively at what can be done with venues while they are closed due to social distancing requirements, such as repurposing them as makeshift studios for filming and streaming content. But it’s a stretch to think that any revenue from that could replace box office and bar sales.”

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