Top British artists including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest call on the UK government to help save the live music industry

(Image credit: UK Music)

More than 1,400 UK-based artists, including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ed Sheeran, have issued a plea alongside thousands of crew and venues for support from the government in the face of devastating economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The appeal was made in a letter to Oliver Dowden, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Among the additional artists who signed the letter include Jeff Beck, the Cure, Radiohead, Yes, the Darkness, Coldplay, Liam Gallagher and many others.

The plea notes that the continued closure of the £4.5bn live music sector has the potential for devastating impact on 210,000 jobs.

The letter is part of UK Music's #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, and comes in advance of what would have been the UK’s massive festival season.

The social media campaign is picking up steam amongst the wider population of artists, fans and industry workers, with anyone looking to offer support being urged to post pictures of the last show they attended before lockdown using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.

You can read the letter in full below.

"Dear Secretary of State,

"UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. From world-famous festivals to ground-breaking concerts, the live music industry showcases, supports, and develops some of the best talent in the world – on and off-stage. As important as it is, our national and regional contribution isn’t purely cultural.

“Our economic impact is also significant, with live music adding £4.5bn to the British economy and supporting 210,000 jobs across the country in 2019. Like every part of the entertainment industry, live music has been proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep people safe.

“But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.

“This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The venues, promoters, festival organizers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown. But, until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great world-leading industry.

“Government has addressed two important British pastimes – football and pubs – and it’s 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.”

For more information on the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, head to

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.