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Study shows most musicians can’t afford equipment

New research by charity Help Musicians says that over 90% of all musicians can no longer afford equipment to perform live shows.

Being a musician is a tough ordeal in the age of streaming. Most consumers aren’t buying CDs or vinyl, with touring and merchandise usually serving as the main sources of income for most independent artists.

Now, new research suggests that things are worse than first thought. A study by the charity ‘Help Musicians’ has found that 91% of all musicians report being ‘unable to afford equipment’. The situation is being described as a ‘cost of working crisis’.

What’s causing the huge financial burden?

Unsurprisingly, spiralling energy and fuel costs alongside unprecedented levels of inflation have made everything far more expensive. Add in a now more complicated and pricey touring system thanks to Brexit and you’ve a big headache on your hands.

98% of musicians are worried about earning enough income in the next six months and half are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned their financial situation could cause them to bow out of the industry entirely.

500 musicians were interviewed for the study. 90% said they’re anxious about affording food, and 84% are unsure if they’ll be able to cover mortgage or rental costs.

The grim statistics don’t stop there. 60% said they’re earning less than a year ago, and 80% also added that they are now financially worse off than before the pandemic.

Chief Executive of Help Musicians, James Ainscough, said that it’s ‘hard to image any point since the Second World War when it has been tougher to be a professional musician’.

The music industry has been hit particularly hard as many rely on venues and live performances to earn a living. The effects of lockdowns and a pandemic are still being felt, with more stages permanently shut and less access to much needed resources.

What are Help Musicians doing to aid those in need?

It has just announced an £8 million support measure scheme, which includes expansion of debt management and financial crisis advice services, touring support, and greater investment in its 24/7 mental health platform, Music Minds Matter.

That’s all good, of course, but what can you do as a consumer?

While individual action is limited, there are meaningful ways to help out. Supporting your favourite acts by purchasing merchandise, albums, and tickets to shows is a good start if you can afford it. Reaching out on social media and spreading the word about bands you’re into can go a long way, too.

Legal proceedings and pleas are currently underway. A hearing was held at the House of Lords in September, lead by industry insiders and the #CarryOnTouring campaign, to show the damage that Brexit has done to touring and live music.

Five organisations representing the UK hospitality sector also wrote an open letter to government in August calling for urgent action. We’ll have to see if there will be any kind of response from Westminster in due course.