It seems that live music is on-trend at the moment in the news, with a spate of reports in
the UK press in the last few weeks. I'm not talking about the Grammys, and I don't mean my
discovery (late on Saturday night, thanks to housemate and fellow musician Andre) that
Justin Bieber is actually a pretty good drummer.
The recent news about a fight-back from small London venues has been met with mostly
positive reception, after a tipping point was reached after decisions being made
in the last few years to close many legendary venues around the country. Spaces which form part of our musical heritage.
An article from 2015 said "Camden has witnessed the closure of the Purple Turtle and the
Stillery. Several other Camden venues and Oxford Street’s 100 Club are said to be
threatened." Almost three years later and nearly all of these venues are now just a name on
a tour poster, a memory of thousands of great nights out for gig-goers across the world.
Around the same time, the Music Venue Trust announced that we had lost over 200 small music venues in the previous ten years, and with real estate being valued even higher, as small
venues chase profits, reducing their event-capacity in favour of bistro-pub dining, life is
getting harder for up-and-coming bands and their would-be devoted fans.
The issue has been growing in size over the last few years and slowly gaining awareness
like a lead guitarist coyly looking up from his guitar mid-solo, only to find that he can
still play the right notes without focusing on, and frowning at, his fretboard.
In 2015, the government had already been petitioned, with the Music Venue Trust arranging
meetings and calling for action. This constant pressure has led to public comments being
made on the matter Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the rule (where venues could be
forced to pay for soundproofing neighbouring properties) which applies to new housing
schemes, was an "unfair burden", and that the government would "right this wrong". Recent
chatter suggests that progress is moving in the right direction, but we do need to keep up
the pressure! Get involved in the campaign here where we are encouraged to join the debate on social media, and to write to your local MP regarding the upcoming Agent of change policy.
They also have some really interesting blog content on their site (I can't quite get an article out of Pink Floyd's remaining members yet).
To leave the story on a positive, the title photo here is of Omeara, a new venue opened at the end of 2016 in London and still going strong. Its proximity to train-lines rather than bed-times means it should survive unchallenged.
Reports are mixed too regarding live music attendance -
According to the Beeb, 30.9 million tickets were sold for concerts and festivals in 2016,
up from 27.7 million in 2015.
But UK Music warned that the closure of small venues posed a threat to up-and-coming
"Live music did have another great year," said CEO Michael Dugher.
"But future talent will never get the chance to shine if we continue to see cuts in music
in schools and closures in venues where artists need to learn their craft in the first
Of course, part of this downward trend is due to a shift in culture, a less agreeable bank
balance, and a real surge in ticket prices. The news about sales certainly accounts for
larger shows that customers can "bank on" - big artists who they know and love, or at least
trust to entertain them - but the last ten years has seen unsigned music audiences decline
as a result, and so of course fewer venues and pubs will invest in the time and effort that
must go into promoting a venue and its shows.
In other music news, last week's relatively sunny springtime mood was crushed by another
loss in the music industry. There aren't many figures like Mark E. Smith, so he deserves a
mention for his all-out rebellion, and apparent lack of interest in anything other than
crafting beautiful poetic distortions. His devil-may-care attitude will be sadly missed in
I occasionally do have interesting things to report via Facebook, such as my golden moment
last week in beating the world record for Oreos eaten in 5 minutes, so do follow me on Facebook here to stay up to date!
My cookie-crunching total to beat is 6, and if you think you can better this heroic
achievement, do get in touch. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss any of the
content here, do hit us up on using any of the links below - we'd love to hear your thoughts on live music here in UK or wherever you are!