Glastonbury cancellation will leave musicians ‘stunted for significant period’

The Killers plays the Pyramid Stage on the fourth day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset.
The Killers plays the Pyramid Stage on the fourth day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset.

The boss of a leading UK music charity has said he is concerned some up-and-coming artists will not have careers by next year, due to the cancellation of festivals such as Glastonbury.

Joe Frankland, chief executive of PRS Foundation, said a dearth of live events due to the coronavirus outbreak would leave many musicians “stunted for a significant period”.

PRS Foundation, a charitable funder of new music and talent development in the UK, supports Glastonbury’s emerging talent competition through bursaries.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran at Glastonbury (Yui Mok/PA)

The annual contest has shone a light on artists including Declan McKenna and Flohio, with winners awarded a £5,000 prize.

Mr Frankland told the PA news agency: “I think it is very hard to predict how long (the effects of the cancellations) will last.

“If it remains something that mostly impacts the live sector, regardless, that has a really big knock-on effect on the recording industry and the publishing industry.

“I think we will still be talking about this in the music industry in six months time. I would hope by then that events are up and running.

“There is an indication, in people postponing events until July, August and September, that that is the prediction for the UK live sector – that that will be a safe time to do these events again, but no-one truly knows.

“We have to accept the fact that many artists and music creatives forging careers will have their development stunted for a significant period.”

Glastonbury was due to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year and is among a long list of high-profile events pushed back or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Frankland said that “where it is appropriate to still book the artist, most artists will clear their calendars next year for Glastonbury”.

However, he said “the bigger concern” was whether artists could survive the next 12 months.

He said: “With all these festival cancellations and postponement, with UK tours being massively impacted, with album and single campaigns having to suddenly change dates, will they still have a career in a year’s time?

“It is PRS Foundation’s job and remit to help sustain long-term international careers.

“The hope is yes – but we all need a lot more support from the UK Government and a lot more guidance and clarity to feel secure in the sense that all the artists booked this year will still be around next year.”

He added: “In the UK we are very used to this sort of thing. We are able to adapt, so I am sure that we will survive this.

 Glastonbury
Crowds at Glastonbury (Yui Mok/PA)

“Our immediate concern is, will our grantees still have careers in six to 12 months time?”

Tom Kiehl, acting chief executive of UK Music, which represents the music industry’s commercial interests, called on the Government to provide support for “self-employed musicians and workers” who would have been a part of Glastonbury.

Kiehl told the PA news agency: “Glastonbury is the flagship festival for our £5.2 billion UK music industry.

“Its cancellation is a bitter blow and underlines the devastating impact the virus is having on the music industry.

“It’s vital that the Government provides support for the many self-employed musicians and all those workers who would otherwise have been involved in this wonderful event”.

Jo Whiley, who has presented the festival’s coverage on the BBC, was also among the people responding to the news.

She tweeted: “This is so devastatingly disappointing for so many people on different levels – sending love to you if this is the news you were dreading.

“Next year @glastonbury is going to be off the scale. But for now much love to @emilyeavis & the Glasto family.”

DJ Annie Mac tweeted: “Sending all my love to Michael and @emilyeavis and the @glastonbury Crew today. It’s such a heartbreaking decision to have to make. Xx”.

Lorna Clarke, controller of pop music at the BBC, said the broadcaster was “saddened” the festival could not go ahead.

She said: “We, along with the Eavis family, are saddened that understandably, the Glastonbury Festival can’t take place. We are already looking forward to next year’s festival at Worthy Farm and will now look at providing our audiences with a celebration of Glastonbury in June.”

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