Music Industry

The economy is so bad for British musicians that 25% are having to skip meals

The UK music industry is facing some really, really hard times. Energy prices have skyrocketed, affecting everyone from someone living in a flat to music venues that need lots of electrons to keep the music (and the lights) on. Fuel for the van is more expensive. Brexit has made it extremely difficult and onerous for British musicians to tour the continent. A few years ago, they could just hop across the Channel and play wherever they wanted without having to endure customs, visas, and permits. COVID didn’t help, obviously. And now the US government is proposing an insane increase in the cost of a visa for anyone who wants to tour ‘Murica. (Canadian musicians are facing the same issue.)

How bad is it for British musos? An organization called Encore Musicians conducted a survey and discovered the following:

  • 26% of musicians have skipped a meal within the last 12 most due to cost of living crisis
  • 90% don’t feel that the UK government can handle the crisis
  • 64% have seen their number of gigs decrease as a result of the crisis
  • 79% think it’s likely rising fuel prices will limit how far they can travel for gigs
  • 51% have taken a second job as a result of cost of living crisis
  • Young and female musicians are the most likely to have seen a drop in gigs

Not good. Here’s more directly from the press release:

Which musicians are being impacted most by the crisis?

  • Age: The youngest (18-24) have been most impacted, with 75% reporting a drop in bookings as a result of the crisis. 
  • Genre: Pop musicians, were the genre represented who have been hit the hardest, with 77% saying the number of gigs had somewhat or definitely decreased as a result of the cost of living crisis.
  • Gender: Women were more likely to have lost work, with 70% saying their number of gigs had decreased as a result of the crisis, against 64% men  
  • Region: Scottish and Welsh musicians were more likely to report a drop in gigs than those based in England, with drops in gigs reported from 83% and 75% of musicians in those regions respectively vs a 65% for English musicians.  

Which second jobs are musicians taking on? 

  • By far the most popular jobs which musicians are taking on unsurprisingly relate to music. 27% reported taking on increased music tutoring. 
  • Other popular new jobs musicians had taken on included being an administrator (10%), school teaching (10%) and retail (6%).
  • Some musicians reported second jobs which were far removed from music work such as working as a vet, a coroner and a psychotherapist.  

Musicians are switching to more local gigs

  • 79% think it’s quite or very likely rising fuel prices will limit how far they travel for gigs.
  • In 2022, musicians spent 25% more on travel than 2021, an additional annual bill of over £130.  

Musicians are struggling to get gigs

  • 39% of musicians have witnessed customers cancelling their bookings as a result of rising cost of living. 
  • Overall 66% said their number of gigs has decreased in the last 12 month as a result of the crisis, 25% reported no change, while 9% said gigs had increased.

Energy bills and mental health are top concerns 

  • When asked which financial areas musicians were most concerned about most said energy bills (61%), followed by rent (16%) and food (14%).
  • 91% have deliberately lowered their heating usage. 
  • 68% said it’s adversely affected their mental health.

Not all musicians have seen a drop in bookings 

  • There are some signs that the crisis is not being felt yet by all musicians, with 1 in 3 saying their booking numbers had stayed the same or even increased. 
  • Classical musicians reported being the least affected with 46% saying their number of gigs had stayed the same or increased since the crisis (survey taken before BBC cuts announced).

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38170 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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