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Over 1 in 4 UK Musicians Skip Meals Due to Cost of Living Crisis [Survey]

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  • 26% have skipped a meal within the last 12 most due to cost of living crisis
  • 90% of musicians feel unconfident in the UK government’s ability to handle the crisis 
  • 64% of musicians have seen their number of gigs decrease as a result of the crisis 
  • 79% think it’s likely rising fuel prices will limit how far they can travel for gigs
  • 51% have taken a second job as a result of cost of living crisis 
  • Young and female musicians are the most likely to have seen a drop in gigs 

A recent survey of 301 musicians, by Encore Musicians, revealed that 26% of professional musicians have skipped a meal due to the cost of living crisis. This is almost double the national average figure of 14% skipping meals reported by a recent TUC survey, suggesting musicians are struggling with rising food costs more than most.  

The Encore study also revealed that 51% of musicians have taken a second job to supplement their income as a result of the cost of living crisis. The most popular jobs musicians are pivoting to are teaching, administration and customer service while some have even taken on jobs working as vets and coroners. A further 23% are considering taking on a new job, with only 26% feeling confident enough in their prospects to concentrate solely on their music career.  

The crisis has hit musicians particularly hard, due to their heavy reliance on car travel. Fuel price increases mean that 79% of musicians reported they would be reducing how far they travelled to gigs this year. This is also exacerbated by travel limitations resulting from Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Encore, the UK’s largest musician booking platform, released this data, ahead of the Budget this week, calling on Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer to ensure musicians aren’t left behind. 

Quote from James McAulay, CEO and co-founder: 

“The Budget this week is one of the most important for musicians in recent times. The vast majority of musicians are still recovering from the devastating impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods, and Brexit has made touring significantly harder and significantly less viable for musicians.

It’s absolutely vital that Rishi Sunak and Lucy Frazer don’t neglect the impact of the rising cost of living on our musicians. Energy companies are making record profits while our musicians are reporting skipping meals, taking on additional jobs, and switching off their heating. Government confidence among the live music sector is low, and it’s not a surprise that 90% of the musicians we surveyed don’t have faith in the government’s ability to handle the Cost of Living crisis.

Live music is one of Britain’s greatest exports. The Budget on Wednesday is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that it values British musicians’ contributions to the economy. Now is the time for strong and decisive action to ensure our thriving industry, which contributes so much to the economy, isn’t left behind.”

Case studies

blank“I moved to the UK last year to avoid the war in Ukraine and am glad I have started finding work here. But now myself and my fellow musicians are facing the brutal impact of the cost of living crisis. If the government doesn’t do something to help, the UK music industry is at risk of collapsing.”   

Aleksey, professional saxophonist, Ukrainian war refugee


blank“I have received help with my energy bill through the PRS crisis fund, without this support I would have had serious financial problems.”

Ricky, professional sitar player and artist



blank“Many people assume that touring musicians make lots of money however this is far from reality. Musicians would really benefit from support from the government, particularly for new touring artists.”

Chloe, professional Folk singer and guitarist


Summary of Results

Which musicians are being impacted most by the crisis?

  • Age: The youngest (18-24) have been most impacted, with 75% reporting a drop in bookings as a result of the crisis. 
  • Genre: Pop musicians, were the genre represented who have been hit the hardest, with 77% saying the number of gigs had somewhat or definitely decreased as a result of the cost of living crisis.
  • Gender: Women were more likely to have lost work, with 70% saying their number of gigs had decreased as a result of the crisis, against 64% men  
  • Region: Scottish and Welsh musicians were more likely to report a drop in gigs than those based in England, with drops in gigs reported from 83% and 75% of musicians in those regions respectively vs a 65% for English musicians.  

Which second jobs are musicians taking on? 

  • By far the most popular jobs which musicians are taking on unsurprisingly relate to music. 27% reported taking on increased music tutoring. 
  • Other popular new jobs musicians had taken on included being an administrator (10%), school teaching (10%) and retail (6%).
  • Some musicians reported second jobs which were far removed from music work such as working as a vet, a coroner and a psychotherapist.  

As prices for petrol rise, musicians are switching to more local gigs

  • 79% think it’s quite or very likely rising fuel prices will limit how far they travel for gigs.
  • In 2022, musicians spent 25% more on travel than 2021, an annual bill of over £130.  

Musicians are struggling to get gigs

  • 39% of musicians have witnessed customers cancelling their bookings as a result of rising cost of living. 
  • Overall 66% said their number of gigs has decreased in the last 12 month as a result of the crisis, 25% reported no change, while 9% said gigs had increased.

Energy bills and mental health are top concerns 

  • When asked which financial areas musicians were most concerned about most said energy bills (61%), followed by rent (16%) and food (14%).
  • 91% have deliberately lowered their heating usage. 
  • 68% said it’s adversely affected their mental health.

Not all musicians have seen a drop in bookings 

  • There are some signs that the crisis is not being felt yet by all musicians, with 1 in 3 saying their booking numbers had stayed the same or even increased. 
  • Classical musicians reported being the least affected with 46% saying their number of gigs had stayed the same or increased since the crisis (survey taken before BBC cuts announced).

Support for musicians 

  • The most popular places of support for musicians reported were PRS, Help Musicians UK and the Musicians Union, and ISM. 

Definition of ‘professional musician’

  • Any mention of ‘professional musician’ in the above results refers to musicians who reported that the majority (over 60%) of their income comes from live performance.

About Encore: Encore Musicians is Europe’s largest platform for booking musicians for events. So far, Encore has helped artists earn nearly £15 million and provided live music for over 30,000 events ranging from weddings and birthday parties to corporate parties and festivals. By offsetting all musician travel emissions and planting trees with every booking (24,500+ trees planted so far), it is also the world’s most sustainable way to book live music. 

Assets: high resolution images, data sets, infographics, and graphs available on request.


Jonny Venvell

Jonny is Encore's Head of Artist Relations.

He's responsible for supporting and helping musicians on the platform and writes most of the musician-facing articles on the blog. He can usually be found singing in choirs, drumming in bands, or nodding meaningfully to particularly good chords in London's jazz bars.

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