The ISM welcomes £1.57 billion government arts investment but asks about freelancers

Responding to the government's £1.57 billion arts investment, Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

‘We welcome this financial support targeted at our world-beating creative industries.

We are delighted that the government has listened to the ISM and many in the arts sector who have been calling on the government to step in and save our venues.

Museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be able to apply for emergency grants and loans while doors stay closed, helping staff that work there.

Yet the vast majority of the near-200,000 people working in the music sector are freelancers and most of them have earnt nothing since March.

While we are grateful to the government for the furlough and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the SEISS must be extended past August, which is the last month the second grant payment covers.

With no date for venues reopening, what will happen to musicians while they wait to be told that they can go back to work and perform in front of live audiences? Without additional and direct support for freelancers we risk a flood of talent leaving the industry.

The government must urgently extend the SEISS, otherwise our talented musicians will face very hard times indeed.’



Notes to Editors


ISM Self-employed survey

Over a two-week period in late May and early June 2020, the ISM surveyed 478 self-employed professionals working in the music sector. Findings from this survey show self-employed professionals struggling to financially survive the impact of COVID-19, even with support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), though as the survey shows many self-employed professionals in the music sector cannot even access this scheme. Here are some key findings:

  • 67% of those surveyed were able to access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), while 33% were not.

Of those that received payment through the SEISS:

  • 50% reported that this covered only 50% or less of their usual income over a three month period
  • 41% reported that the payment was £2500 or less for a three month period.
  • 41% said their payment was not sufficient to cover the costs of living.
  • 53% are also currently reliant on personal savings, while 42% are reliant on financial support from partners/family/friends (respondents could select multiple choices).
  • 42% reported that they anticipate that it will take 12 months plus for their income from self-employed work to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, while 40% anticipate it will take 7-12 months.

Of those that could not access payment through the SEISS:

  • 61% reported that this was because less than 50% of their income traditionally comes from self-employed work.
  • 85% have not received support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, indicating they have received no government support.
  • 59% are also currently reliant on personal savings, while 42% per cent are reliant on financial support from partners/family/friends.
  • 87% say that payment through the scheme would have made a positive difference to their financial situation.
  • 31% report a considerable decline in standing of living as a result, while 16% report significant financial hardship.

Music and creative sectors

  • Creative Industries employed 2.10 million people in 2019, an increase of 34.5% from 2011 (Source: Creative Industries Federation, 2020). It is estimated a third of this workforce is self-employed.
  • In 2018, UK Music estimates the music sector produced some £5.2 billion in GVA and created nearly 191,000 FTE jobs. Most of these are freelance workers.
  • Music is central to the UK’s soft power and its place on the world stage but the UK has already slipped to second place in the global rankings of soft power (Portland Soft Power 30 Index 2019).

        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.

        For more information, please contact [email protected].