The National:

IT has been 453 days since I was last paid to perform to a live audience. 453 days since I was legally allowed to work in the field that I was trained to work in.

Since then, the UK Government has excluded several thousand freelancers from accessing coronavirus support packages, declined an offer of visa-free travel in Europe for creatives, and promoted the dreadful “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber” ad campaign which, rightfully so, went viral with backlash.

Time and time again, the UK Government has overlooked, or simply ignored, the creative industries. But fear not, Tory Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has created a Spotify playlist of “Songs To Get Vaccinated To”. Boak.

A cringe-worthy tweet encouraging over-25s to book their vaccination not only signals how out of touch Dowden is with young people, who are champing at the bit to get their vaccine and return to normality, but also signals his blatant dismissal of the current industry issues surrounding music streaming.

READ MORE: Scots singer wins in having streaming giant recognise the language

Ironically, Dowden’s choice of playlist platform, Spotify, has continually come under scrutiny from both emerging and leading figures in the music industry. Spotify simply doesn’t pay musicians fairly.

Whilst pressure is being placed upon streaming giants through the #FixStreaming and #BrokenRecord campaigns, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek is swanning around punting offers to buy Arsenal Football Club to the tune of £2 billion.

As part of his involvement in the “Economics of Music Streaming” inquiry, it’s of no doubt that Dowden will be all too aware of the open letter sent to Boris Johnson by the Musicians Union and the Ivors Academy in April. This letter called for reform in laws relating to streaming revenues and royalty payments.

Is Dowden siding with Spotify, instead of standing up for fair payment for musicians’ work? Aye, probably.

Dowden tweeted: “So many great moments in life are celebrated through music...”

This, I can agree with.

Music has brought comfort to so many throughout the pandemic, yet the industry remains relatively dormant whilst other sectors are opening.

Until recently, theatres and live music venues were operating at 2-metre distancing, whilst the hospitality sector operated at 1 metre. Whilst it’s braw that the industry is making wee steps towards recovery, venues need more support to reopen and operate in a way that is financially viable.

Musicians, especially those who are early in their careers, are often excluded from financial support and experiencing “livestream fatigue”. They are scunnered.

My favourite part of being a musician is the connection I develop with a live audience, who are singing along with me. An online livestream simply cannot compare to the atmosphere that is created at a small intimate folk club or even at a larger arts centre.

READ MORE: How one Scottish music venue has adapted a year after lockdown

It is this reason why I feel so disheartened that so many provisions have been made to allow the Euros to go ahead at both Wembley and Hampden with no Covid testing requirements, yet we are still to see a series of live music test events that feature musicians other than Frank Turner.

One could argue that The BRIT Awards was a musical test event, but with an array of pre-taped musical performances interspersed with poor humour, I beg to differ.

Last month, the world looked to Rotterdam, who hosted the live Eurovision Song Contest with a limited capacity audience of 3500, with both participants and audience members adhering to strict Covid testing and protocols.

Watching it on TV not only gave me a much-needed boost of serotonin but a boost of hope that, perhaps someday, the UK Government will care for culture enough to put the effort in to support our industry.