After the pandemic one in three musicians lost their income, charity claims

By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

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James Brown, of Pulled apart By Horses, says that since 2019, the band has made no touring revenue.

According to Help Musicians, one-third of musicians still didn’t earn anything after the lifting of restrictions on live events this summer.

It said that the music industry was one of the most affected by the pandemic. 83% of musicians are unable to find work regularly.

Based on an August survey of 929 musicians, the findings can be interpreted as follows:

Almost nine in 10 were earning less than £1,000 per month, and 22% were considering giving up music altogether.

After Covid’s shutdown of the live music sector for the majority of the pandemic, restrictions on live music in England, Wales, and Scotland were lifted in July and August.

BBC News: Ruth Lyon from Holy Moly and the Crackers said that many venues felt like they were closing down to ensure full capacity.

She went from performing 120 shows per year before lockdown to nearly 18 months on stage.

We had 30 festivals booked, a tour at the end last year, and shows almost every weekend. But it all fell apart in a matter of days.

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Lyon claimed that Lyon’s earnings dropped by over 75% between 2018 and 2020. Lyon’s band was unable to resume their shows last month due to her immunosuppressant condition. This puts her at risk for infection.

She explained that she couldn’t imagine herself in the position to be guinea-pig owner. My medical team allowed me to come back after I had waited until it was safe to do so.

James Brown, guitarist of Leeds-based band Pulled apart By Horses said last year that the group’s earnings had “nosedived”. Royalties from streaming services, radio airplay, and other royalties could not compensate.

He explained that royalties take time to arrive. They can sometimes take several months or even years to arrive. Musicians are now unable to make a steady income from their music, due to the huge backlog.

Brown was unable to travel so he took up work as a TV and film soundtrack composer, although he couldn’t make ends meet. Brown ended up contacting Help Musicians to get financial and mental support.

His words were: “To suddenly go from performing live for 10 years to hitting this brick wall where it was not happening anymore, it’s devastating.”

Help Musicians reported a 60% increase of individuals contacting them for support with mental health. One-in-eight people said they were suffering from a mental disorder that is preventing their return to work.

During the pandemic, the charity distributed £18m to 19,000 struggling musicians.

James Ainscough chief executive stated, “We recognize that it will take some musicians a long time rebuild. The team at Help Musicians won’t stop being available for musicians in serious crisis over the next months.”

Pulled Apart By Horses learned this summer that even getting back to the act of playing concert can be quite difficult.

Brown stated that “we did play one festival in August that wasn’t cancelled, and it was quite bizarre.”

It was a strange feeling to be thrown in the deep end after all this time of not being around other people. It was terrifying.”

Lyon spoke out about her return to performing and said, “I have loved it, it’s just been different.”

“I used to get carried away from the stage, and then I would go straight onto the merchandise stall and hug people. But I try to be more discreet, and I really miss that part of it.

Despite this, she stated that it had helped her mental well-being to get back on stage.

“Performance makes me feel powerful and is an important part of who I’m,” she stated. “Having it taken from me for two years was crazy. It’s been hugely beneficial to be able to return to that aspect of my life.

Lyon stated that musicians are now more likely to seek out help in spite of the terrible circumstances they have been facing over the last 2 years.

My friends had never considered getting therapy or counselling before. And now everyone’s talking about this. She said that in some ways, it’s a positive thing.

Reach out to someone if necessary, and don’t feel ashamed. “We’re all in this together.”

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