ISM flash survey reveals severe financial impact of COVID-19 on music businesses and organisations

• 83% of music businesses and organisations reported that COVID-19 is significantly impacting their business financially

• 33% of respondents reported that their business/organisation is at imminent risk of failing

The ISM’s latest flash survey about COVID-19 reveals a sector under extreme pressure to survive as a result of cancelled opportunities and businesses at risk of falling through the gaps of recently announced financial support from Government.

Of the 70 music businesses and organisations who responded, 83% reported that COVID-19 was having a significant negative impact on their business or organisation with 33% at imminent risk of failing due to the current crisis.

Comments from respondents included:


‘Our sales are close to zero as there are no performances, but we have cut basic costs substantially and hope to survive.’

‘The furlough scheme does not help music management businesses where valuable colleagues could still work productively from home - but under the scheme are being paid by the government to do nothing. Furloughing is also bad for mental health and well-being and morale - which creates extra work for the company as we are "looking after" furloughed staff.’

‘[My business] is not getting a rates holiday because it is not seen as a leisure business. I have bills to pay and no income.’

‘We are at risk of losing many music shops and associated businesses.’

‘We are a performing organisation and can't perform. We are now [looking at using our] reserves.’

‘If disruption continues past June the business will struggle to survive without significant support.’

‘Financial help for organisations in our sector feels limited and it seems likely that small organisations are going to fail.’


Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:


‘The results of the ISM’s latest survey demonstrate the insurmountable pressure on many music businesses and organisations as a result of COVID-19.

Yesterday, the ISM wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for a review of the furloughing of employed staff, who at present are unable to provide services or generate revenue for the organisation or business they are furloughed from. As demonstrated in these results, this is putting strain on organisations in the music and wider arts sector who have had to furlough their staff and are now struggling to function without a sufficient workforce. Other countries, such as Canada (Emergency Wage Subsidy) and Australia (Job Keeper Payment), have put schemes in place which allow furloughed employees to continue working – even if it is just on a volunteer basis – so businesses can survive during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. We thank all the organisations who responded to this important survey and will continue to engage with Government on behalf of the sector to ensure no musician or business is left without support.’

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally-recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. We support approximately 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.

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