Billy Bragg calls for government support for the music industry

28 June 2020, 11:54 | Updated: 28 June 2020, 13:31

By Seán Hickey

As bars, restaurants and cafés plan to reopen next week, Billy Bragg fears that music venues will suffer for months to come.

Matt Frei spoke to the international musician on the future of topics ranging across the Labour Party to Donald Trump but his expertise on the music industry was where his insight proved at its best.

"It's going to be a long time before people feel confident coming together in a confined space" said Billy Bragg. He explained that the very nature of many venues having people shoulder to shoulder would be less than inviting for many coming out of a world of social distancing.

"I can understand how people are going to be thinking twice before they put themselves into that situation but I'm hoping that once sport gets up and running and people start going to sport and seeing that it is safe, people will start to think about coming back to gigs.

"I think we'll be the last to come back." The singer songwriter feared. He sympathised with music venues that will have to struggle through for another few months without music.

Mr Bragg said that "it's going to be hard on the venues as much as the artists." He went on to tell Matt that "if they're not running gigs they're running discos" and "if they can't get people through the door because of the social distancing numbers then it's not gonna be economically viable for them to put on a gig."

The Glastonbury festival was scheduled to go on this weekend
The Glastonbury festival was scheduled to go on this weekend. Picture: PA

Matt pointed out that in modern times most musicians make their main income through live events and the absence of this poses a big issue.

Billy Bragg argued that "festivals were growing before the shutdown" because of their ability to give people "a communal experience which you just can't get online."

"The joy you get from that, if they're ever able to deliver that online then, nobody will ever leave their home."

The songwriter noted that "there's an emotional solidarity in that that you just can't get outside the church or at the football," reiterating how live music will be sorely missed as lockdown eases.

Matt wondered if the music industry will have to wait until there's a vaccine before it can come back to normal, where Mr Bragg told him that he's already rescheduled most of his gigs for next year - vaccine or no vaccine.

"It's gonna be a very busy year for people next year" he said, almost excitedly. He said that he has slight apprehension over the future of the music industry but he hopes "by then things will have calmed down"

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