The Rolling Stones urge government to help the UK live music industry

Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform onstage at Hard Rock Stadium on August 30, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

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The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney are among more than 1,500 musicians who have signed a letter to the British government, asking for it to help save the live music industry amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The joint open letter, which also included signatures from Ed Sheeran, Lionel Richie, Dua Lipa and pop group Little Mix, said that while the U.K. government had addressed the restarting of “two important British pastimes — football and pubs,” it was now “crucial that it focuses on a third, live music.” 

“For the good of the economy, the careers of emerging British artists, and the UK’s global music standing, we must ensure that a live music industry remains when the pandemic has finally passed,” the letter read. 

Addressed to Britain’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, it highlights the economic impact live music has made, having contributed £4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) to the British economy and supporting 210,000 jobs in 2019.

The need for social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant many concerts and shows have been canceled or postponed in the last few months. 

The letter said the live music industry had been “proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus.” 

However, with no clear end to social distancing and government financial support yet to be agreed, it said the future for live music and those that work in the industry “looks bleak.” 

In addition to musicians, 688 venues, 147 cover acts and comedians, along with 3,416 production companies and workers also signed the letter. 

It added that the sector didn’t want to ask for the government’s help, but given that it’s likely these businesses would only re-open in 2021 at the earliest, this support would be “crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great British industry.” 

A U.K. government spokesperson said that it was “already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of such as loans and the job retention scheme and we continue to look at additional support we can provide the industry. “

Last month, U.K. charity the Music Venue Trust called for a £50 million lifeline from the government to prevent “mass closures” of venues in the coming months.