Making Music’s member survey took place just before the lockdown and reveals aggregate losses of £8.8m across our music groups.
24% of members (883) responded in just three days, and they were broadly representative in terms of distribution across vocal, instrumental and promoting groups.
90% of respondents have had to cancel public events, and almost all of those who had regular weekly activity (e.g. rehearsals) had already cancelled these, too.
The financial impact of cancelling events and of cancelling regular weekly activity for Making Music’s membership amounts to an estimated £3.7m and £5.1m respectively. For the leisure-time music sector as a whole, including groups not represented by Making Music, this would mean losses by end of June 2020 of around £26.4m by almost entirely unfunded groups which usually just break even through a mixture of subscriptions, occasional fundraising and event income.
The largest proportion of those losses for events (55%) relate to payments to professional musicians and conductors engaged by leisure-time groups, either because of contractual obligations, or because groups try to continue supporting freelance musicians left devastated by this crisis. The Chancellors’ announcement today (26 March) may indirectly help Making Music members who are not able to pay professional freelancers when their own income has dried up.
The largest proportion of losses through cancellation of regular activity come from reduction in their membership subscription income (51%). 32% of the losses are still attributable to continued payments to their MD/conductor, despite activity being suspended. This explains that the overriding fear of groups looking to the future is the permanent loss of members because the group will have lost momentum and members will have lost motivation. It is therefore vital that Making Music help members address this challenge through providing digital tools to maintain group connectivity and musical practice, as it has started doing.
Impact of the coronavirus lockdown, however, goes beyond finances. Making Music has received a tsunami of comments from members, with ‘disappointment’ emerging as the strongest feeling about event cancellations, but far more significantly loss of social connection and concern for group members’ mental wellbeing dominate the responses on the impact of regular activities being suspended.
Making Music is still analysing and processing the hundreds of responses to how groups are keeping connected and active during lockdown, and collating and sharing useful tips with the leisure-time music sector as a whole.
It is clear that Making Music’s role continues to be a vital one for music groups in the current situation, providing guidance on practical matters, digital support, communications, recruitment and retention advice, as well as advocating for the sector.