ConnectsMusic has been working alongside leading music industry organisations, consulting on the recent shielding survey, this being a poignant collaboration as ConnectsMusic’s director Emily Saunders has first hand experience of shielding during the pandemic:
As professional performers, composers, we are personally aware of the problems that music creators face daily, and how what was previously challenging for us has become even more tough since the pandemic. The pandemic has knocked our music industry over, deeply affecting us all in ways which none of us were prepared for. Some are now battling to gradually rebuild their careers, and others still shielding are unsure as to when they’ll be able to do the same.
Joint research by the Musicians’ Union, The Ivors Academy, in collaboration and consultation with ConnectsMusic.com, and with the support of Help Musicians UK and Attitude is Everything, has revealed that 70% of musicians, songwriters and composers who are still shielding are facing financial hardship because of their continued need to shield. Worryingly, over 80% do not believe the Government has a clear plan on how to support people who still need to shield to protect their health or the health of someone they live with.
Almost 40% of the 340 respondents to the joint survey, drawn from all sectors of the industry and all career stages, will still have to shield beyond the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the end of the vaccine roll-out to protect their health or the health of someone they live with. Just under half of these are concerned that infection with Covid-19, regardless of the vaccine, may complicate other health conditions, and 15% will need to shield by proxy to protect someone they are living with.
The new research reveals that almost 70% of musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield have lost more than 50% of their usual income or work during the last 12 months and, of these, almost 50% have lost between 75-100% of their earnings.
Nearly 60% of musicians and music creators have received no financial support whilst shielding (60% of these because they did not meet the eligibility criteria) and over 60% anticipate they will lose 50-100% of their usual income or work opportunities over the next 12 months because of their continued need to shield.
The Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy are calling on the UK Government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Furlough Scheme for this group of workers and make them automatically eligible until they can safely return to work.
Further policy recommendations to Government include:
The joint research also highlighted that almost 60% of shielding musicians and music creators are concerned that they will not be considered for work in the future because health and safety requirements may be more complex when engaging them.
Recommendations for the music industry as it continues to reopen include:
The pandemic has been an extremely tough time for people who have needed to shield. We know that musicians, music creators and audiences are looking forward to the music industry opening fully and are relieved to return to some sort of normality. But there are still many musicians and music creators who will not be able to return to work because of their legitimate fears about their risk from Covid-19. These musicians and music creators are concerned about their futures and how they will be able to cope financially.
Musicians and music creators with a continued need to shield are being left behind, many with no support. The Government must provide clearer, accessible guidance, and ensure that this group of workers can access financial support to stay safe and not be forced to choose between going to work and their health.
The MU will work together with The Ivors Academy to provide support for wellbeing, opportunities for musicians and music creators to maintain their professional networks, and provide assistance to access funding opportunities and would encourage the rest of the music industry to support us in this work.
Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy general Secretary
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