One in 5 UK musicians fears Covid will end career

One in 5 UK musicians fears Covid will end career


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2020

A Musicians Union survey of 1,459 members finds that one in five British musicians fear they will never work again.

The survey also found that 38% are not eligible for the government’s financial assistance schemes.

Details here.


  • musical spirit says:

    Please tell me what that picture has to do with the text…?

  • Anon says:

    Extraordinary that readers are more concerned with the choice of picture than the worrying subject matter of the article.

  • Terence says:

    Unfortunately the musicians may be correct. Some orchestras will disappear too.

    In addition there’s a cohort of music students graduating this year, many more of whom may never find (musical) work.

    Given that sizeable percentages of many audiences are 70+ years old, concerts will harder to sustain.

    I wish it wasn’t so.

    • Brian says:

      You are correct. The 70 year plus concert goers can have health problems like
      Myself if it is an evening concert i have the extra expensive of taxes

  • Stephen Diviani says:

    It is only fair that self-employed people in the arts who are registered as a company shouldn’t be eligible for the UK government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Such ‘company’ schemes are largely a way of avoiding tax, albeit legally. I feel much the same way about self-employed who earn over £50,000 per year who are ineligible, along with those whose income is only partly derived from self-employment. When I resigned from the BBC to go freelance everybody, including the Head of Personnel, gave me three very useful tips: a) always make sure you have enough savings to last through at least three months without work; b) be prepared and willing to take other jobs to pay the bills; c) avoid getting into debt and try to stay within your financial means; d) always pay your bills. Advice to which I’ve always stuck. My biggest fear regarding ‘B’ is that there may not be jobs available if the ‘lockdown’ continues much longer. Meanwhile, if you can help a friend who is in real financial difficulties and you can possibly afford it, try and help them out.,

    • Stephen Diviani says:

      Given that I obviously can’t count, it’s just as well I stuck to the advice I was given.

    • Sean says:

      You’re a charmer….

      • Stephen Diviani says:

        Sean, I think the help that the UK government is giving self-employed people is superb, but it is entirely right that parameters be set on eligibility. I have been self-employed since 1997, working in the arts, and I have never, ever assumed any sense of entitlement above any other workers, but took it for granted that if my theatre & television work dried up I would do something else to pay the bills: work in a shop, walk people’s dogs, supply teaching. I’ve never thought that anybody owed me a living. What worries me is that if this crazy situation continues for much longer there won’t be any other jobs to pay the bills and no money to fund the NHS let alone the arts.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          If it continues much longer, the government won’t have any money to pay anyone either. The government gets its money from taxes on people working mostly, so it needs people to work to raise some money.

    • Brian says:

      It is harder on the self employed unless they have other investments to live on
      For example property rental to fall back on.i joined the civil service because
      I know one will always get paid sickness etc. Before that i worked for private
      Companies they go bust and you come out with nothing which i have experienced

    • Peter says:

      Advice a) always to have enough savings to last at least 3 months, is as useful as the tip i was once given: before a crisis, always make sure you have a secure independent income. Worthy of Jane Austen, perhaps, but lacks a touch of reality these days.

      • Brianviner says:

        The problem is some of the salaries are very low not so easy to put money aside especially one parent families which we seem to have many unfortunately

      • Brian viner says:

        The problem is some salaries are low. Also there are many one parent families
        So there is not much money left to save up.
        Lucky Iam still living on my grandmothers pension.

    • Oshkosh says:

      Absolutely spot on, if people followed those steps there would be no issue. Imagine being clever enough to set up a Ltd company but nut smart enough to have an emergency fund

  • Ellingtonia says:

    My god there isn’t half some whinging going on by those in the “arts” at the moment. Some of these people need a reality check, try having a word with those in engineering, manufacturing, steel industry and mining back in the 70s and 80s who lost jobs and had to get off their arse and find alternative employment. In my own case I was made redundant four times and had to change career path several times to find “work.” Musicians are not a protected species, despite the fact many seem to think otherwise and they do not inhabit a higher plane of culture (are you listening Mr Borstlap?). There are many professions which this virus potentially will have a dramatic effect on both in the short and long term, but if we are really honest no one quite knows in what way. And lets just give a thought to those not only in the NHS but supermarket workers, delivery drivers, post men / women who have done an excellent job in trying to keep things ticking over, they deserve all our thanks.

    • John Borstlap says:


    • Brian says:

      Correct when you are made redundant you look for any job. I worked with my father a craftsman the company went out of business. Then i was a bookseller
      The same situation and i then ended up in the civil service. I always found work.