Figures from the UK music industry have warned that without support to combat rising energy bills, music studios, venues and other businesses could face closure.
The government has committed to helping domestic households with rising energy bills, which are expected to soar by as much as 80 per cent in October with an updated price cap, however no price cap has been introduced for businesses in the music, leisure and hospitality sectors.
Some music venues have reported their bills rising by between 300 and 740 per cent, according to Music Week, raising costs of running the spaces by tens of thousands of pounds.
Music Producers Guild executive director Cameron Craig highlighted the issues facing those who run independent recording studios, saying that the COVID pandemic had only recently shown “just how close to the bone” they are run.
“The unprecedented energy cost rises are just another body blow to a sector just finding its feet in a post-pandemic recovery once again creating an uncertain future,” Craig said. “We call on the government to help the recording sector or lose an integral part of the UK’s cultural and creative capital.”
UK Music back @ukMPG as they warn studios face closure without urgent action to tackle crippling energy bills.
Government need to cut VAT and extend business rate help to give a lifeline to music businesses fighting for survival.
— UK Music (@UK_Music) August 30, 2022
UK Music’s chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has also called on the government to urgently put in place measures that will help venues, studios and other music-related businesses survive. He has suggested cutting VAT down from 20 per cent and extending business rates help to give those affected in the industry a chance to survive.
“Spiralling energy costs have created an existential threat for venues and music studios,” Njoku-Goodwin said. “It’s urgent that the government takes action to support businesses with the costs they are facing. We all saw just how miserable life was without live music during the pandemic when venues were closed for months – the high cost of energy bills could now close them forever.
“The new prime minister must ensure that music businesses are included in the support measures that are brought forward to deal with soaring energy costs. The government should look at cutting VAT and extending business rate support to help music businesses that are fighting for their survival.”
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has also taken a survey of its members, which comprise 941 venues across the UK, and found that they are facing on average a 316 per cent price hike, equalling a £5,179 energy bill per month for each venue. That’s a rise of £1,245.
The MVT has warned that approximately 30 per cent of its members now face the threat of permanent closure because of these skyrocketing prices. The group’s CEO Mark Davyd said: “Alongside the simply unaffordable increases to costs, the government must urgently address the fact that the market for energy supply has collapsed.
A mixing desk at Abbey Road Studios CREDIT: English Heritage/Heritage Images via Getty Images
“We have multiple examples where venues do not have any option other than to accept whatever price increases and tariffs are proposed by the sole supplier prepared to offer them power at all. The situation has rapidly deteriorated into a monopoly.”
Earlier this month, Davyd told NME that the energy crisis threatened to “close more venues than the pandemic”.
“It feels weird to say it, but unlike during COVID when you could go, ‘OK, we need to raise some money now because in a year’s time the venues will be open,’ we can’t do that now because they’ll have to pay another electricity bill next year and the year after that, obviously,” he said. “I can’t see any end to this unless venues put their prices up.”
The MVT CEO added that the spiralling costs would either see music fans being asked to pay higher prices or venues eventually shutting completely. “The government should bring in a price cap immediately. At the moment, there’s a certain amount of just sitting back and seeing what happens. Something either works, or it doesn’t, and this doesn’t work.”
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