Scottish music industry warns it has been left 'on brink of collapse'

A Scottish music industry campaign backed by Biffy Clyro, Mogwai, Primal Scream, Deacon Blue, KT Tunstall and The Proclaimers has warned that the industry is on the “brink of collapse.”

Monday, 26th April 2021, 5:40 pm

More than 3000 jobs and 10,000 freelance contracts are said to be at risk due to a lack of support from the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce, which has been created to help the previously-booming sector recover from the pandemic, has warned the government to “act immediately" to head off a looming financial crisis.

It has been urged to set out indicative dates for when events can resume without physical distancing, amid warnings that Scotland’s cultural identity has been left at “critical risk” and that “our music industry as we know it will vanish” without more meaningful backing.

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The taskforce claims there is a “significant disconnect” between the latest route map out of lockdown restrictions, which envisages venues reopening with social distancing in the middle of next, and financial viability.

Leading promoters, event organisers, festivals venues and agents have told the government that Scotland has “fallen behind all other parts of the UK”.

The alliance, which is also supported by festivals like TRNSMT, Belladrum, Hebcelt and Doune the Rabbit Hole, said there had also been a failure to provide any specific ongoing support to the industry worth £450 million to the economy in recent years.

An open letter to the government states: "If not immediately addressed, the consequences of the current indecision and inaction for Scottish artists, venues, booking agents, festivals, freelancers, promoters and production companies will be catastrophic.

A packed house at Leith Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: David Wilkinson

"We are at breaking point. Scottish artists, venues, freelancers and music businesses cannot afford the impending cultural and economic cost in jobs, skill losses and cultural output, neither now nor in the future.

"Our industry has been closed for 12 months and will continue to generate no income until economically viable live music returns. We need to save Scottish music.”

Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, said: "We need the Scottish Government to step up and give our industry some hope via indicative opening dates - without physical distancing - that we can use to start planning the journey back to creating life-affirming moments for fans.”

Glasgow-based promoter and nightclub owner Donald MacLeod said: “We are now witnessing the avoidable demise of the Scottish music industry. The jobs and talent we’re losing will cause irreparable damage.”

Nick Stewart, Scottish coordinator of the Music Venues Alliance, said: “It’s very clear that under new guidance no grassroots music venue can viably open regardless of whether they are technically allowed to. Many venues will be restricted to 10 per cent of normal capacity.

“The Scottish Government must work out circumstances, and preferably dates, under which live music can return without restrictions, and make sure that where venues can't viably open there’s continued support to make sure closures don't become permanent.”

A spokeswoman for government agency Creative Scotland said: “We recognise the scale of the impact and the challenges that are being faced across all aspects of Scotland’s culture sector, including the music industry.

"In addition to the emergency funding support provided to date, we continue to work with the Scottish Government and partners to do everything possible to help support culture in Scotland through this extremely difficult time.”

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