Lewis Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Paolo Nutini and Proclaimers back campaign to save UK music industry

A host of Scotland's best-known musical figures, including Lewis Capaldi, Paolo Nutini, Annie Lennox, KT Tunstall, Deacon Blue, The Proclaimers and Mogwai have thrown their weight behind a new UK-campaign demanding urgent Government action to tackle the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
All of Scotland's summer music festivals have been called off this year due to the pandemic. Picture: Ryan BuchananAll of Scotland's summer music festivals have been called off this year due to the pandemic. Picture: Ryan Buchanan
All of Scotland's summer music festivals have been called off this year due to the pandemic. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

Sir Rod Stewart, Amy Macdonald, Emeli Sande, Gerry Cinnamon, Simple Minds, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and Texas have also joined the plea for help to avoid "mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry".

An open letter signed by more than 1500 acts across Britain draws comparison between the lack of support for the music industry with the help offered to football and pubs in Britain, as well as the package of support offered in France and German for their cultural sectors.

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The Let The Music Play campaign will also be highlighting new research which valued the music industry at £4.5 billion and estimates that it supports more than 210,000 jobs.

The Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Sir Paul McCartney, Rita Ora, Dame Shirley Bassey, Liam Gallagher, George Ezra, Iron Maiden and Little Mix are among the highest-profile artists to put their names to the campaign, which has been launched to coincide with what would normally be the start of the summer festivals season in the UK.

Music fans will be urged to join bands in posting film footage and photos from their last gigs with the hashtag #letthemusicplay to demonstrate a “mass show of support for the UK’s world-leading music industry during its shutdown.”

The Government has been told that social distancing restrictions mean that concerts and festivals are unlikely to return "until 2021 at the earliest."

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been warned that the future for music businesses looks increasingly "bleak" because there is no end to social distancing in sight or financial support on offer while the industry has been forced into complete lockdown.

Organisers of the TRNSMT in Glasgow and Belladrum in the Highlands are among those to offer their backing, along with the teams behind the Glastonbury, Kendal Calling, Green Man, Latitude and Parklife festivals.

Among the 450 venues supporting the cause are the Usher Hall, Queen's Hall, Summerhall, Bongo Club, Leith Depot, Sneaky Pete's and Whistle Binkie's in Edinburgh and King Tut's, SWG3, St Luke's, Oran Mor and Stereo in Glasgow.

An open letter to Mr Dowden states: "Live music has been one of the UK's biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade.

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"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.

"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 world-leading industry.

"The Government has addressed two important British pastimes - football and pubs - and it’s now crucial that it focuses on a third, live music.

“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."

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Other Scottish groups backing the campaign include Wet Wet Wet, Django Django, the Peatbog Faeries, Breabach, Tide Lines and Capercaillie.

Singers to offer support include James Yorkston, Julie Fowis, Donnie Munro, Lloyd Cole and Callum Beattie.

Stuart Galbraith, chief executive of Belladrum Festival, which is staged in Beauly, near Inverness, said: "Belladrum is Scotland’s biggest camping festival and it was heartbreaking for us to have to cancel the 16th edition in 2020.

"Belladrum has grown over the last 15 years to the point that it now injects up to £5 million a year into the local economy and its cancellation will impact not only the brilliant staff and crew that work directly on the festival , but also on local jobs and businesses.

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"We are already planning for the 2021 festival and we fully the support the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign to highlight that the music and festival sector has been decimated by the Covid-19 crisis and we will need help to ensure that we can get through the winter with no income and keep everyone’s jobs secure to run a successful festival next year.”

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: "The UK's venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country's culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges.

"If the Government doesn't step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever."

Liam Gallagher said: "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.

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"I can't wait to get back to playing for the fans. But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry.

"There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live."