A third of professional musicians in the UK are still not earning from their work due to the pandemic, according to research by the charity Help Musicians.
The figures reveal an alarming disparity between the perception of the music industry getting back on its feet, and the reality for many involved.
In total, 33% of almost 1,000 respondents reported earning nothing whatsoever from music, with 9/10 bringing in a monthly salary of less than £1,000. Just 1% are making more than £2,500 per month. This is only a marginal improvement on research from October 2020, which showed that 55% of professional musicians were no longer earning money from their craft.
The new study has also revealed that 83% of musicians are unable to return to work, with available venues and backlogs caused by lockdowns throughout 2020 and in early 2021 the key causes. Numbers also show more than one in five (22%) suggested they were considering leaving music entirely to pursue other careers, while one in eight said they were experiencing mental health problems. This supports Help Musicians' own statistics, with the organisation experiencing a 60% increase in musicians getting in touch for mental health support.
Additionally, 30% of those in the study said they now had a lack of confidence in returning to the live circuit as a result of uncertainties around coronavirus and a poor Brexit deal for touring artists. Overall, 45% stated they did not feel confident about the future of the music industry.
The report comes just after Help Musicians has made a final combined payment of £500,000 to musicians who have been relying on financial support since the start of the pandemic. During that time, the charity has distributed £18million to some 19,000 artists, and it has now announced the move to a new stage of support, focusing on rebuilding careers devastated by the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Whilst much of the economy is gradually getting back to normal, it will be a long time before musicians expect to return to their pre-pandemic income levels, as we predicted from the start of the pandemic. For the past 18 months, we have been supporting nearly 20,000 musicians with direct financial aid to help them pay their bills and stay afloat. As the industry starts to recover we are shifting our emphasis towards helping musicians re-build with a wide package of support, from advice on diversifying income streams, mentoring to re-build connections, mental health support and much more.
“We recognise that for some musicians, it will take a long time to rebuild and the team at Help Musicians will continue to be available to those musicians who find themselves in real crisis over the months ahead, ensuring we are alongside musicians every step of the way," said James Ainscough, Chief Executive of Help Musicians.