A guitarist performs in front of a large Help Musicians banner

83% of professional musicians unable to return to regular work. Study highlights need to rebuild careers after Covid-19

  • A third of professional musicians say they are earning nothing from music, with 22% saying they are considering leaving the industry 
  • 50% of musicians believe they will not be able to achieve a sufficient income until 2022 
  • The charity Help Musicians has seen a 60% rise in musicians enquiring about mental health support, demonstrating the ongoing impact of the pandemic
  • Help Musicians has provided a further nearly £0.5m to help musicians through the coming months and is increasing its practical support to get musicians into work

The effects of the pandemic are continuing to have a catastrophic impact on musicians across the UK, according to new research released today from independent charity Help Musicians.

The study, conducted amongst nearly 1,000 professional UK musicians, has revealed that a third (33%) are still earning nothing from music.

There is still a plethora of challenges that are preventing musicians from returning to pre-Covid levels of income and work. For the overwhelming majority (83%) an inconsistency of bookings is stalling their ability to get their careers back on track, and at least 38% are facing a lack of venue availability as the backlog of pre-Covid bookings stretches into 2022. There are challenges with planning tours, including the uncertainties of Covid and the roadblocks presented by the Brexit deal. Additionally, over 30% of musicians surveyed cited a lack of confidence as stopping them from returning to perform in front of live audiences, a figure reflected by the 60% increase in mental health support being sought from the charity. On top of all this, musicians are having to juggle the rebuilding of their music career with earning money from temporary work outside music. 

Whilst the music industry may appear glamorous, only a tiny percentage of musicians earn significant sums. The research revealed that nine in ten musicians (87%) are currently earning less than £1,000 per month. Just 1% earn over £2,500 a month. 

The figures come as Help Musicians announces that it is moving to a new phase of support, which will see it help professional musicians to rebuild their careers. This follows on from the charity’s emergency financial support which has seen it channel £18m into the bank accounts of 19,000 musicians in order to help them survive the financial hardship of the past 19 months. 

The charity has now made a final payment of nearly £0.5m to musicians to help those who were still relying on monthly financial support, whilst enabling them to rebuild their careers and transition back into work. The charity will still offer financial support to any musicians finding themselves in crisis situations. 

Helping musicians rebuild will be vital. The research found that less than a quarter (22%) are confident they will be able to continue with their music career this year, whilst 45% are not confident about their long-term future in music. In fact, 22% are actively considering leaving the industry.

The impact of the pandemic on musicians has not only been financial. Help Musicians has seen a 60% increase in musicians getting in contact for mental health support. The research found that around one in eight musicians (12%) say they are currently experiencing a mental health problem that is preventing them from returning to work. 

James Ainscough, Chief Executive said, Whilst much of the economy is gradually getting back to normal, it will be a long time before musicians expect to return to their pre-pandemic income levels, as we predicted from the start of the pandemic. For the past 18 months, we have been supporting nearly 20,000 musicians with direct financial aid to help them pay their bills and stay afloat. As the industry starts to recover we are shifting our emphasis towards helping musicians re-build with a wide package of support from advice on diversifying income streams, mentoring to re-build connections, mental health support and much more. 

We recognise that for some musicians, it will take a long time to rebuild and the team at Help Musicians will continue to be available to those musicians who find themselves in real crisis over the months ahead, ensuring we are alongside musicians every step of the way.” 

Help Musicians is asking those who are in a position to donate to give whatever they can, through the website, in order to help musicians rebuild their careers. Every penny donated to Help Musicians goes straight to the frontline without any deduction to cover its operating costs or overheads. 

Notes to editors:

Research conducted amongst 929 musicians in August 2021 by Help Musicians. 

For media enquiries, or to request an interview with a Help Musicians representative, please contract:

Chris Bull, Newsfeed PR: CBull@​NewsfeedPR.​co.​uk / 07760 273 160

Rebecca Riley, Newsfeed PR: rriley@​newsfeedpr.​co.​uk / 07840 855200