Half of UK musicians ‘have left the art’

Half of UK musicians ‘have left the art’


norman lebrecht

September 22, 2020

A Musicians Union survey of 2,000 members finds that 70% are down to a quarter of their usual work and around half have found work outside the arts industries.

About one-third say they are leaving altogether. Details here.

Caveat: The survey is the largest seen so far. However, it is random and voluntary, dependent on those who were willing to reply.


  • Thank God for reasonable men! says:


  • Anon. says:

    Did you read the article? 1/3 “are considering giving up their careers amid the coronavirus pandemic” this does NOT mean 1/3 have are leaving all together. The 50% who have found other work does not mean they have walked away from the profession permanently either just in case you leap to that conclusion.

    • Una says:

      I think you’ll find that they have walked away and more than a third, and that doesn’t include singers who can’t join the MU. This is the UK we’re talking about – in this case you can also include Ireland – and as a nation, we are very realistic and don’t have in our DNA the embedded optimism and self promotion ability of Americans and we are not by nature Europeans – nothing to do with the EU. But talk to many American composers in normal times, and they just pray for a teaching post to make ends meet. We are in dark times and never more so than tonight again when people are just fearful of having any job whilst surpressing the virus like a box of frogs, and a ing lives of loved ones. I am certainly one of those that has left the profession, both as a singer and a teacher if singing, for I will be too old, if I am still alive, by 2023 for any work that may be there. The Guardian, a left-wing British paper I normally don’t read, has got it right.

    • Tony Britten says:

      Dear Anon (the negative comments always seem to be anon), if you follow Slipped Disc because you love music, how can you say this? Musicians are precious and their art makes the world better – and the harsh fact is that many fine players are at their wit’s end. And if and when this virus is under control there may not be work to come back to for the 50% who have found other means of employment. But the fact that your comments have received a 3 to 1 approval from other SD followers suggests that there are a lot of people out there who actually don’t love music or musicians and are keen to use this platform to demonstrate their negativity. Its such a shame.

  • The View from America says:

    “Caveat: The survey is the largest seen so far. However, it is random and voluntary, dependent on those who were willing to reply.”

    Translation: This survey is worthless.

  • D** says:

    There’s no doubt these are very difficult times for musicians. I’m reminded of the famous Georges Bizet quotation, “Ah, music! What a beautiful art! But what a wretched profession!”

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    When this is over, perhaps London can pare down to two or three ‘super’ orchestras – not spreading the talent pool all over the place. One really great concert hall would help too. While you’re at it, augment those trashy sounding Paiste tam-tams with a few Wuhan ones too (like most of the remaining orchestral world).

  • Edgar Self says:

    Oscar Levant, so not recent: “I’m a concert-pianist. That’s another way of saying I’m unemployed.”