The ISM responds to the government’s announcement that indoor live performances can resume on August 1 with socially distanced audiences

Incorporated Society of Musicians Chief Executive Deborah Annetts, responding to the government announcement that indoor live performances can resume with socially distanced audiences from August 1, said:

'We welcome that indoor live performances can resume with socially distanced audiences from August 1, subject to the success of pilot studies, as part of the government’s five-stage roadmap for reopening.

However, with music venues operating on small profit margins, we know that the requirement for social distancing indoors does not work within the cultural sector’s financial model. Venues also require long lead in times to get shows up and running and so it remains to be seen if two weeks notice is feasible.

Despite being highly skilled, the majority of musicians are not highly paid and until live music venues can fully reopen without social distancing, musicians will not be able to fully return to work. If they do return, it is likely their income will be far less than before COVID-19 which is not sustainable.

We remain concerned that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is coming to an end next month and musicians face the prospect of no further financial support as they transition back to work.

With live music one of the last sectors of the economy to reopen, the government must extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme until the end of the year. The music sector provides so much cultural and economic value to our country and without additional financial support for freelancers, we risk many of our most talented musicians leaving the industry.'

  • Notes to editors
  • Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be able to take place across the country from 1 August. This announcement marks the move to stage 4 of the government’s 5-stage roadmap for the return of professional performing arts. However, there is still no dates on when theatres and live music venues can fully reopen.
  • The ISM responded to the government's roadmap for performing arts return. See the full press release
  • In June the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was extended with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant. This additional grant in August will be worth up to 70% of their average monthly trading profits and capped at £6,570. The money will again be paid out in a single instalment covering June, July and August.
  • Recent ISM research (2019) found that 55 per cent of ISM members who all work in the music sector earn less than £20,000. 79 per cent of musicians earn less than £30,000. (ISM (2019). Members Fund Survey. ISM Group

      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 over 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.For more information, please contact [email protected].