One-Third of British Musicians Are Thinking About Quitting Their Careers

Photo Credit: John Matychuk

More than one-third of British musicians are considering quitting their music careers as a result of economic difficulties stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Musicians’ Union disclosed this and other unsettling statistics in a newly published report. It’s the third “impact poll” that the 127-year-old organization has conducted since the pandemic’s start in March.

In the latest report, 34 percent of British musicians indicated that they “are considering abandoning their career in music,” whereas 37 percent of respondents were “not sure” about what the future holds for their music careers. Almost half (47 percent) of British musicians relayed that they’ve had to look for work outside of the music industry, and a discouraging 36 percent of participants signaled that they “do not have any work at all.”

Notably, UK musician-booking platform Encore Musicians found in an entirely separate analysis that 40 percent of musicians have zero gigs booked between this month and 2020’s end.

Furthermore, the Musicians’ Union’s newest impact poll determined that 70 percent of British musicians are unable to take on more than 25 percent of their “usual work.” And well over half (65 percent) of musicians are grappling with “financial hardship,” per the organization, which represents north of 30,000 individuals.

Addressing the impact-poll results in a statement, Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge said, in part: “With social distancing measures still in place, venues can only sell at around 30% of usual capacity. We are calling on the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme, which would take venues’ potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry.”

Last month, we covered the return of indoor gigs in Britain, which arrived following several successful “pilot” shows. Venues looking to welcome back fans must abide by a relatively stringent collection of social distancing requirements and guidelines; London also doubled the existing fine “for those who repeatedly flout face covering rules,” to approximately $4,200. Accordingly, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) specified “that the vast majority of grassroot music venues” would be financially and/or physically unable to host concerts under the new guidelines.

Though the British government hasn’t yet addressed the Musicians’ Union’s findings (or the prospect of allowing larger crowds to enjoy live music events), it bears mentioning that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden recently revealed that the tentative reopening schedule will be delayed. Specifically, the October 1st goal of bringing back (socially distanced) sporting-event crowds has been shelved, as have business events. Similarly, exemptions “for indoor grassroots sport & amateur performing arts and choirs” are temporarily on hold.

While it’s difficult to put a positive spin on these less-than-encouraging happenings and statistics, 64 percent of the musicians who responded to the aforementioned Encore Musicians study said that they’re considering leaving the industry – meaning, based upon the Musicians’ Union’s presumably larger sample size, that things may not be quite as bleak as initially believed.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Johnny

    Spend years learning how to play your instrument. Spend thousands of dollars buying computers, software, guitars, pianos, speakers, digital interfaces, microphones, sample libraries etc. Then spend hundreds/thousands of hours recording your music, and also thousands of dollars paying other musicians to play on your songs. Then guess what? NOBODY WANTS TO PAY YOU FOR YOUR MUSIC!! And the day after you release your music somebody sticks it up on an illegal site or on Youtube (they think they are helping you promote your music!) for the whole world to get FOR FREE and the fans think this is FAIR! Stream rip away everybody! Great business to be in, the music business! Yeh, but you can always make money doing gigs they tell us?? And along comes the Virus. Now what? Then they wonder why so many musicians are quitting this free music, no gigs business, DUH! 99+% FAILURE RATE! AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!

  2. Avatar
    Eilo

    Well, commercially the threshold for what’s worth paying for is far too low. Maybe a third’s the magic number….not worth the notes that are floating around out there.

    Think about it, how many footy (soccer) leagues are in Britain including the elite premiership… and even then there there are teams not worthy of paying to watch. Quality’s definitely an issue across the board.

  3. Avatar
    Victor McLean

    I hear ya and I’m really trying to fix it. There is a solution, but it is going to be nearly impossible to get to it. If I don’t get us all the way there, maybe I’ll at least stimulate the mind that can!
    Vic McLean
    CEO Virtuoso Music & Distribution