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The reality of the cost-of-living crisis’ impact on the music industry.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has had significant consequences on the music industry. Soaring prices have brought even more difficulties after the pandemic, which is now affecting artists' mental health.

The music industry severely suffered during the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, and following restrictions music venues were forced to shut for 18 months, on top of pressures to remain open and to keep staff employed.

The trades economy, therefore, shrank by 47% in 2020. However, the music industry is now encountering more difficulties and is struggling to bounce back as quickly as once hoped.

The cost-of-living crisis has brought yet more unwanted unpredictability to musicians in these unprecedented times.

Eye watering levels of inflation in fuel and heating is resulting in touring becoming more and more commercially unviable as travelling to gigs and heating rehearsal spaces has increased the prices artists have to budget for.

Now, even high-profile artists such as Animal Collective and Mercury Prize-winning Little Simz are being forced to cancel shows.

Little Simz took to social media to say: “Touring the US for a month would leave me in a huge deficit.

“As much as this pains me to not see you at this time, I’m just not able to put myself through that mental stress”

A survey conducted by Help Musicians with over 500 professional artists outlines the true extent of how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting music artists.

91% of them face a ‘cost of working’ crisis including being unable to afford music-related equipment and 9 in 10 say their career is being impacted by poor mental health.

Mental health has become more of a prevalent issue amongst artists with the relentless post-pandemic tours leading to prolific artists Sam Fender, Arlo Park and Wet Leg cancelling their tours and openly speaking about mental and emotional burnout.

Such challenges are also hitting music charities, with Brighter Sounds having to find new routes to adapt to these unprecedented times.

For 22 years, Brighter Sounds have been pioneering ways to explore creative potential by producing creative projects, residencies, training and events that support musicians to carve their own unique path in music.

Speaking to the charities Head of Programmes, Kate Lowes, about the crisis, she said: “Obviously the cost-of-living as a direct impact coming immediately after COVID and the impact that has is putting artists' career viability in jeopardy.

“It’s impacting on sustainability, viability and ability to deliver their careers and to be the artists they want to be.

“I think for the artists we work with the majority of whom are at an emerging tipping point in their careers, and playing live is so important, and to lose that to COVID is a drastic cut in income.

“However, the knock-on effect that the cost-of-living is having is that ticket sales are just not getting back to what they were, as people generally don’t have the disposable income of what they did so it’s a double impact from that respect.”

A direct cause of this crisis has been an unfortunate deterioration of artists' mental health. Help Musicians conducted a survey, revealing that 88% of artists believe difficulties with their mental health are currently affecting their work, and 68% saying their mental health is worse than before the pandemic.

Lowes talks about what she has experienced regarding this, and what Brighter Sounds are doing to support its artists.

“People are having to take on even more additional jobs, and every additional job they take on is squeezing the time energy and creativity that the artists have to put into their own work, affecting their artistic output, with the impact on mental health and well-being is now a constant struggle.

“A lot of our work centres around creative development we’ve put in place mental health support for the artists, and it’s something we want to try and embed across the whole of what we offer, so there’s some aspect of pastoral mental health support available on our projects.

“But by beginning to engage in conversations around what healthy working practices looks like, what sustainable careers look like and how important mental health and wellbeing are to all those things we are able to look at shifting the boundaries to create more open and flexible conversations.”

Brighter Sounds have just received three-year funding from Arts Council England. The regular investments will help them deliver programmes of work for young creatives, independent artists & up-and-coming music professionals across the North.

The importance of this funding is to ensure that the charity can be more flexible and take risks in an industry where risks are paramount to success.

Lowes said: “They recognise that there's been a huge impact in terms of how much it costs to deliver what we deliver but also the support in which we want to offer to artists may shift as well.

“We often cover travel and food, with also looking at how we can cover accommodation, but I think we need to go further in what we offer and how we can offer cost of living support, which can be made possible with this partnership.”

Regardless of the uncertainty of the situation the music industry finds itself in, the certainty is that talented artists will always shine through, but the constant increase in inflation may be putting that at risk.

It is with this risk in mind where GigPig's work becomes so essential. Since June of last year, we have already generated almost £650,000 for the artists market, creating more gigs for both musicians and venues which, in turn, is leading to more jobs being created. With our platform being up to 90% cheaper than traditional methods when used for booking live acts, venues are now able to reinvest their savings back into artists by booking more gigs. Everyone's a winner.