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Coronavirus: KT Tunstall warns the music industry ‘could lose an entire generation of artists’ | Ents & Arts News

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KT Tunstall has said the coronavirus pandemic could be an “extinction level event” for some music venues and force “an entire generation of artists” to quit the industry.

The Scottish singer told Sky News: “It’s crunch time. I’ve heard people talking about this in terms of live music as an extinction level event.

“This is a really dramatic potential future for live music. We’ve got to look at how important live music is to our country because it’s really in peril right now.”

OXFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 06: KT Tunstall performs during Cornbury Festival 2019 on July 06, 2019 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Steve Thorne/Getty Images)
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Tunstall rocking up a storm at Cornbury Festival last year

Tunstall is one of hundreds of musicians who have signed an open letter warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the live music industry are at risk because of the impact of COVID-19.

Some 1,500 artists and bands including Liam Gallagher, Sir Paul McCartney, Dua Lipa, Little Mix and Take That have written to the culture secretary calling for action to save the UK’s “world-leading” live music industry.

Although she now lives in LA, the Edinburgh-born star credits her home with kick-starting her success.

She said: “I owe a huge debt to that entire structure of grass roots venues back in the UK, as do almost all the artists that come out of Britain.”

Explaining why she wanted to be involved in the campaign, Tunstall said: “There’s a historical attitude that music just gets on with itself, that people form bands in garages, play pubs and clubs, and then suddenly, magically they turn into headliners at Glastonbury.

“But of course, that’s not how it works. It takes a lot of work, energy and money. And it’s not just the musicians on stage, it’s an entire structure of people working behind the scenes.”

Festival goers take selfies at sunset during day two of Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 27, 2019 in Glastonbury, England. The festival, founded by farmer Michael Eavis in 1970, is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world. Tickets for the festival sold out in just 36 minutes as it returns following a fallow year
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Glastonbury is one of many festivals which had to be called off this year

Tunstall told Sky News that the freelance nature of the music industry means that if people cannot get work, or government support, they will get jobs elsewhere.

As the second biggest market in the world for live music, Tunstall questions the UK government’s prioritising of live sporting events like the Premier League over the return of live arts and entertainment.

An ambassador of the Music Venue Trust, she said that 97% of grassroots venues would not be able to stay open with any kind of social distancing, with many “hanging on by the skin of their teeth”.

Tunstall said small venue owners are already fighting rising taxes and encroaching property developers, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

Looking ahead, the Suddenly I See singer warned: “I’m very lucky. I’ve got a couple of hits that make my money.

“But these new artists are just completely done for, and we are looking at an entire generation of artists potentially having to walk away from doing it at all because they just need to go and get work elsewhere.”

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And while the coronavirus pandemic has had crushing effect of the on the industry, Tunstall says the arts are an essential element for our recovery.

She said: “Music is a healing force. It’s such a galvaniser and a hope giver. And it’s needed more than ever right now.”

Following the publication of the open letter, artists, venues, festivals and production companies are set to post films and photos of their last live gigs or events, using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.

Fans are also encouraged to post about the last gig they attended to show support.

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