Saving live music venues

Friday 13 July 2018

Tom Jones was discovered in a miners club, Madonna launched her career of the back of the New York club scene and regulars at ‘The Hawley Arms,’ in Camden Town were among the first to see Amy Winehouse  perform. These Venues played a critical part in each of the singers journey toward crafting out a career for themselves within the industry. Live Music Venues are fundamental to any music artist helping them gain confidence , and that much needed experience when playing to live crowds. These venues no doubt help musicians to master their craft, so why are so many closing down?

The increase in the rise of live music venues closing down is a very worrying trend for the future of the music industry. It's great to have social media platforms to help up and coming artists but there is nothing like performing in front of a live crowd. And however much social media is reinventing the way music artist are getting recognised and heard they still need the experience of playing live. So it is unsettling to see this part of our  music culture diminish on a unprecedented scale. 

Some venues rely solely on the footfall music entertainment brings and if the entertainment is lacking then they are in trouble however if the lack of entertainment is not the problem then why are we seeing so many closures? A majority of people within the music industry believe it is because of housing  developers and council regulations. Take for example 'The Bierkeller,' When the owners of the building decided to re -develop the whole site they had little to no say about its future. The Bristol venue  hosted Nirvanas first UK gig and have seen the likes of The Artic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran play. However,  it seemed no matter how popular and historic the venue was nothing could save it from closing down in February 2018 . The Bierkeller released a statement which read “It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the closure of the Bristol Bierkeller as of today. “This is a very sad time for all of us here and there have been some historic gigs over the years.” 

So what can we do to make sure the live gig venue culture continues to thrive instead of diminish. Fortunately  there are many important people in the music industry who recognise the importance of keeping these venues going. Vince Power is one of them, a music promoter and entrepreneur hailing from Waterford, Ireland. Whose career has spanned over 30 years working alongside some of the greatest music artists like Van Morrison, Prince and many others. He believes that soaring rents and hostile councils are killing the live music scene and has fought tirelessly to save the Kensington Park Hotel. One of London’s oldest live music pubs where Tom Jones was paid £10 for his first London gig. 

Mr Power, who also runs Nell’s Jazz and Blues in West Kensington, said he won back Subterania’s licence after pleading with Kensington and Chelsea council: “I told them, ‘Just give me a licence for a year and let’s see what happens. I will happily hand it back without prompting if there are problems.” Power is credited with turning Reading Festival into a complete success. So if anyone knows what they're talking about its him. 

The charity MusicVenueTrust is one of those who already have a great campaign up and running. Fightback is tackling the issue head on. The MVT is a Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK Grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists. Please have a look at their website at http: musicvenuetrust.com/

UGIGS is also helping fight back against the closures also and support the MVT.