The UK’s live music business is repeating calls for government support measures after a snap survey revealed close to half of remaining international shows planned for Q1 2022 have been cancelled .
In the UK, 26% of concerts scheduled for the first three months of the year have fallen by the wayside, prompting the industry to plead for intervention. Its demands include an extension to the reduced rate of VAT on tickets, urgent improvements to the government insurance scheme and resolving Brexit roadblocks for transportation to enable tours to go ahead.
Last-minute cancellations necessitated by the Omicron variant have resulted in a dramatic loss in income across the board, exacerbated by unprecedented losses suffered throughout the pandemic. The figures do not include concerts that had already been rescheduled for later in the year.
“Whilst it is great news that restrictions on live music venues will come to an end in much of the UK at the end of January, the live music industry is still facing serious challenges,” says a spokesperson for LIVE, which conducted the survey. “The impact of the past two years has been catastrophic for the venues, artists, freelancers, and technical staff that power our £4.5 billion industry.”
“WHILST THE UK IS REOPENING, MANY ARTISTS NEED INTERNATIONAL MARKETS TO FULLY REOPEN BEFORE TOURING CAN BE FINANCIALLY VIABLE”
A lack of public confidence, potential new restrictions and the possibility of further variants were all cited as the main causes of delays and cancellations of shows. And with much of Europe remaining closed, the UK legs of international tours are at risk due to the financial unviability of only touring Britain.
The issues are further compounded by the introductions of visas and punitive regulations on the trucks and vehicles related to Brexit.
“It will take a long time for us to recover from the worst period in history of the industry and the government need to fully understand the challenges we face,” adds the LIVE spokesperson. “Whilst the UK is reopening, many artists need international markets to fully reopen before touring can be financially viable.
“We are also encouraging the public to continue to support live music, whether that is seeing a new band at a small local venue or a big act in an arena, so that we can get through this difficult period together.”
Meanwhile, a report in Los Echos shows the French market suffered sales losses of more than 50% in the first quarter of 2022. France announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events last week, with audience capacity limits for seated events to be lifted from 2 February and standing events permitted from 16 February. However, Live Nation France director Angelo Gopee told the publication the damage had already been done.
“It’s simple, people are no longer buying tickets for the next six months,” he said. “They are tired of postponements and are now demanding refunds.”
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