Radiohead, Coldplay, and the Rolling Stones are among the 1,500 artists who have signed an open letter to the government in support of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign in an effort to prevent “catastrophic damage” to the music industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Dua Lipa, Liam Gallagher, The Cure, Nick Cave, Paul McCartney, PJ Harvey, Ed Sheeran, and more also signed the letter, which warns of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on venues and artists.
Addressed to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the letter reads: “Like every part of the entertainment industry, live music has been proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep people safe. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.”
It adds: “This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The promoters, festival organisers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown. But, until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great world-leading industry.”
The letter also highlights that the live music industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, and that venues, concerts, festivals and production companies contributed £4.5bn to the economy in 2019.
“For the good of the economy, the careers of emerging British artists, and the UK’s global music standing, we must ensure that a live music industry remains when the pandemic has finally passed,” it concludes.
In an accompanying statement, Liam Gallagher added: “Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love.”
Dua Lipa said that she is “proud” to have worked her way up the music industry, but noted that “the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much needed government support.”
Radiohead’s Ed O’ Brien expressed a similar sentiment, writing: “Radiohead played about 100 shows throughout the UK in small venues the length and breadth of this country. This was where we started to learn our craft. We continued to tour this country and by 1997 we were headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival. The live industry in this country is the lifeblood to for the music industry in this country.”
Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the Glastonbury festival, added: “If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport responded by saying that the government is “already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of.”
In a statement on Twitter, Dowden added: “I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music & the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates & to give you a clear roadmap back. These involve v difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives.”
Starting today (July 2), artists and venues have also started posting photographs and films of their last gig or event using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay on social media. Fans are also encouraged to show support for the campaign by posting about the last show they attended.
Artists including Lionel Richie, Cher, Mogwai and more have already showed their support on social media. Read some of their tweets below.
The UK is home to some of the most vibrant music festivals and venues in the world. Today, I’m joining artists and fans in the UK to bring attention to the hardships the live music industry is facing there, and around the world.
— Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) July 2, 2020
Live Performances That Touched My Life🎶The Beatles🎵Rolling Stones 🎹Elton John 🎤David Bowie 🎸Rod Stewart 🎼Annie Lennox 🎤George Michael 🎧Live Music Is England’s Life’s Blood #LETTHEMUSICPLAY
— Cher (@cher) July 2, 2020
This isn’t for me, it’s for the thousands behind the scenes that you’ll never see. Those who are in the venues before us setting up & those who leave long after we’ve finished the show. The music industry needs a clear plan & the Government’s full support. #LetTheMusicPlay pic.twitter.com/L7d3sAFzNB
— James McVey (@TheVampsJames) July 2, 2020
Here's Bryan Ferry on stage here on 13 March 2020 – our last gig before the world changed.
Mr Ferry was following in the footsteps of thousands of artists to have walked these boards before.
We want these times again (and again, and again). Action is needed.
— Royal Albert Hall (@RoyalAlbertHall) July 2, 2020
The UK live music sector employs more than 200,000 people. Music is great for our mental health and venues serve as cultural hubs for many communities. We aren't asking for a lot. Just a plan and enough money so there'll be a live music scene to come back to. #LetTheMusicPlay pic.twitter.com/HCrDb62380
— Kaiser Chiefs 🦆 (@KaiserChiefs) July 2, 2020
Today, we join artists and music fans to demand immediate action from @OliverDowden to prevent catastrophic damage to the live music industry.
— Mogwai (@mogwaiband) July 2, 2020
— Nothing But Thieves (@NBThieves) July 1, 2020