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Turmoil in Europe: UK government set to destroy live music industry

The main priority of the globe through the year has been to stay safe and reduce the surge of coronavirus. As a result, the EDM world is in strife and the wave of cancellations that followed wreaked havoc upon the industry, but a majority of people know it’s the best choice right now. However, most industries in the event and hospitality space–especially the incredibly passionate and driven EDM industry–are taking steps to resuscitate our bright and lively world so that one day (hopefully soon) fans can get back to moving and grooving in dark warehouses and bright venues across the world. 

This particular storyline is currently in full force in the United Kingdom, a destination where many would say electronic dance music lives and breathes. While fans and professionals in the industry are elated to see the light at the end of this sonically-deprived tunnel, the UK government has recently cast a shadow that might mean a further delay of shows and quite possibly, a fatal blow to the vibrant and once-thriving world of England’s live music scene. 

There is no doubt that both the UK government and live events organizations alike have the utmost concern for the safety of their populace. And for the most part, the sanctions that the government rolled out were fair enough, including capacity reductions and mandated sanitation efforts. The real issue arises in Tier 2 of the system of restrictions set to take place, which allows Grassroots Music Venues to sell alcohol at live events only if it is “accompanied by a substantial meal.” In a statement issued last week, the Music Venue Trust brings to light the statistics of which most Grassroots Music Venues make their money. Here are the facts.

  1. Income within the grassroots sector derives 65% from wet (alcohol) sales and 35% from ticket sales.  
  2. It is not possible to deliver an economically viable event in this sector without the financial support provided by alcohol sales.
  3. 92% of Grassroots Music Venues do not have the necessary facilities to provide substantial food services.

Now, requiring venues to serve food in an attempt to reduce over-consumption of alcohol is understandable, but there’s an unfortunate result. The move was intended to prevent the spread of virus, but some are questioning if requiring venues to start selling food would only increase concert-goers’ exposure levels and risk due to a higher contact rate during food production. Thus, a longer web of potential exposures is spun.

Recently, The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) jumped in the ring to add to the fight. Here is what Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, had to say about the recent ordinances.

“This announcement by the Government has led us to believe that they are intentionally aiming to collapse our sector. Every town and city across the UK stands to lose valued and much-loved venues. This will be another stab in the heart of our town and city centers. We stand to lose the cultural institutions and amazing workforce of professionals that the UK is renowned for globally. Our clubs, bars, venues, security, freelancers, staff, managers, DJ’s and many more will lose their livelihoods and continue to suffer financial hardship without Government intervention.”

– Michael Kill, CEO of The Night Time Industries Association

He then made a direct plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to save their beloved industry.

“Mr. Johnson, what are you doing to save the lives and livelihoods of the many businesses and workers within the night-time economy, businesses that have been closed since March and are continuing to suffer? They have staff and freelancers that will lose their jobs irrespective of furlough because the businesses won’t survive.”

– Michael Kill, CEO of The Night Time Industries Association

According to a recent report published by the Guardian, 170,000 jobs in the UK’s live music sector will be lost by Christmas–a crushing blow that will make the revival of live music in England even more difficult to bounce back from. Hopefully, officials, and Mr. Johnson himself, will soon realize the toxicity of these guidelines set to poison the United Kingdom’s live music industry. If not, the vibrant and flourishing world that defined electronic dance music as we know it may be headed to a dark and isolated recession. A Christmas miracle is certainly needed now more than ever for our electric family across the pond.

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