The country’s biggest radio stations took a collective moment of silence during the morning commute on Friday to raise awareness about the contributions that self-employed musicians make to Icelandic society, Vísir reports.
Self-employed musicians have been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic. Gathering ban restrictions have necessitated the cancellation of numerous events and concerts, meaning that self-employed artists can’t depend on live shows for income. Unemployment for these artists has, predictably, been high and there are few, if any, state resources they can turn to for relief.
Radio stations Bylgjan, FM957, X977, Rás 1, Rás 2, K100, and Suðurland FM paused their regularly scheduled programming at 8:45am on Friday in a demonstration coordinated by the Association of Self-Employed Musicians (FSST). FSST was founded in August primarily to address the challenges currently faced by self-employed musicians; its inaugural board includes chairman Helgi Björnsson, Selma Björnsdóttir, Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð (DRN), Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson, and Bubbi Morthens. Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson and Sigríður Thorlacius serve as alternate board members.
The association welcomed the broad participation in the moment of silence, issuing a statement that said self-employed Icelandic musicians “will continue to stand with their nation, lighten its mood, and do their part.”
“Musicians who make their living from live performances have suffered terrible financial losses and the future is uncertain where events and other gatherings are concerned,” continued the FSST statement. “Self-employed musicians in the Icelandic music industry work in variable and seasonal markets, pay taxes and other fees, but by the very nature of their work, fall outside of the mutual insurance safety net when crises like this occur. As such, self-employed musicians have not been able to take advantage of the government’s temporary resources or any of the economic relief measures that have been introduced.”
The association is calling for relief measures to mitigate the economic losses suffered by its members. “FSST members do not work in a vacuum,” it noted, pointing out that these artists have symbiotic relationships with “music venues and cultural houses, both public and private, equipment rentals, stagehands, lighting and sound technicians, hairdressers and makeup artists, photographers, designers, advertisers, and countless others. Self-employed musicians are an important link in the value chain in many areas of society. The profession is in a grievous situation, our members are fighting the banks and can’t wait any longer.”
Without immediate aid, says the FSST, the Icelandic music industry could be facing “serious and maybe irreversible consequences,” running the risk that a significant number of its musicians will leave the profession and that it will be harder to convince new artists to enter the industry in the future.