Live music and our government - Do they even understand us?

The government announced yesterday announced that the easing of restrictions allowing live venues to open as of 1st August is postponed.

So we have to wait another two weeks, but, do we really believe that opening in two weeks time for live music venues will not depend on the distancing restrictions in place? Any distancing restrictions will inevitably affect the ticket/door income and therefore ultimately the income of the musicians.

What is difficult to understand is, if we were to accept that singing and certain instruments pose a risk in terms of spreading covid-19, why does that prevent a guitarist or pianist providing a performance (without singing of course)?. For example many of us Musos know a great blues or jazz pianist or guitarist who wouldn’t sing even if you paid him extra!, so why can he or she not work?.

Covid-19 presents a plethora of new and alien scenarios to our government officials in terms of what makes our country work. I doubt our government ministers have never considered the value of music. They walk into a supermarket and hear music and it is ‘just there’, do we think they consider the composer, the licensing, the musicians, the studio etc .

Many pianists and guitarists in my circle could provide entertainment that is not only captivating, but also a demonstration of sheer musical skill that should be seen and enjoyed by those who just love music. Leaving musicians to perform to the public from their homes via a mobile device is detrimental to the industry as a whole as paying for it is largely optional. This in my view, albeit understandable, contributes to the constant undermining and devaluing of music and musicians.

Musicians are already undermined far too often in terms of the value placed on music by the public as downloads via platforms such as Spotify give the impression that experienced and talented musicians are easily accessible and cheaply. I am not blaming the public (apart from those who should know better), marketing is a powerful tool, not only for the individual organisation but the external marketing environment which encompasses public perception of a product or service. Marketing is a science in my view, and certain types of marketing can convince the public to view a product or service within a certain framework. If John Public can download a track from his favourite band for £0.99p can we really blame him entirely for thinking music is cheap?

To summarise, can we expect our ministers and government officials to understand the value of music? No, not in my opinion.

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