Of all the industries that have been impacted by COVID-19, the music industry is one that has been hit the hardest.

The global music industry is worth over £50bn and is made up of two major income streams. The first being live music, which
makes up 50% of total revenues and is derived mainly from the sales of tickets for live performances. The second is recorded music, which combines revenue from streaming, digital downloads and physical sales.

But what about music festivals? With at least 90 per cent of UK festivals cancelled this year according to the Association of Independent Festivals, many are having to issue refunds to customers of up to £800m. With nine out of ten festival organisers saying that their companies were at risk without government intervention.

Ed Blaney, organiser of Salford Music Festival has created a unique way to overcome and adapt to the current circumstances. With their festival due to take place on the 29th to the 31st May, they sadly had to cancel their festival due to the risks posed by COVID-19. He said: “The Salford Music Festival has been running for 10 years now, we started it in 2010. To be honest COVID-19 has been really difficult or was at the start. My band were ¾ of the way through finishing our third studio album in Berlin and we returned to the UK March 5th just before lockdown started.”

Salford Music Festival 2020 Line Up.

He added: “The best thing to do was to host the Salford Music Festival online this year, which has really changed a lot of things for me personally in a positive way as we had such a great reaction from it.”

The decision to move Salford Music Festival online came as a surprise to many but with the hard work of the organisers and artists involved it became a huge success. “We had to adapt and think outside the box but we delivered an event jam packed with not just great artists’ but we also embraced all the great organisations and charity groups in Salford which gave them a platform to show the great work that they do.

“Doing it all online was a huge task but we did a great job and reached well over 120,000 online during the three days all around the world.”

Making the decision to move the festival online has not been easy, particularly due to issues surrounding copyright and licensing issues. He said: “From a technical point it was really challenging, we had never done anything like it before. Everything went well apart from a few of the live DJ sets were pulled due to licensing and copyright issues on Facebook but we luckily managed to get around it by using alternative platforms.”

Music Licensing is the licensed use of copyright music, which is intended to ensure that the owners of copyrights on musical works are compensated. Currently Facebook does not have any music license coverage, meaning that if your live stream or video contains copyrighted music then Facebook have the right to remove it at any point and in serious cases can lead to your page being removed.

The first Salford Music Festival poster from 2010

Alongside the licensing challenges, Ed has faced some personal financial struggles during this time due to the lack of Government support for freelancers. Freelancers make up a whopping 72 per cent of the music industry, with many not receiving the support they were promised by the government – ultimately leading to financial hardships. He said: “I have not received any support from the government. It has really been and continues to be a very testing time for me.”

Although an online music festival isn’t quite the same as a physical event, Salford Music Festival have been considering hosting a second online event in late September. He said: “We are considering doing another in late September for a number of reasons, obviously nothing compares to the real live show with an audience in place.

“However, given the current climate and ever-changing situation we have to consider the health and safety of those who attend. We feel an outdoor event is not viable right now, but we are confident that we can create an experience as good as the real thing from the comfort of your home.

With everything 2020 has thrown at Salford Music Festival, Ed remains optimistic and enthusiastic for the future of Salford Music Festival. “We have managed to survive the last 10 years as a non-profit organisation and we still maintain the same ethics as when we first started, which is to promote new music and fly the flag for Salford as a great city, so
now more than ever we are optimistic and looking ahead.

“Salford Music Festival is and shall always be a vital platform for Salford, its residents and also music lovers around the world. For the people, by the people.”

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