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Can Independent Music Venues Survive?

Article Ref: #CanIndieVenuesSurvive

Live Music Venue

Since the recession the live UK music scene has taken a blow to business like no other. The survival of independent live music venues has been thrust into a seriously concerning period of uncertainty where the sociopolitical implications for the local community is only half of the battle. With closures aplenty, both developing and breakthrough artists are finding it increasingly difficult to get on stage, perform and be in their element. Without being able to perform to an audience how can these smaller acts gain any un-biased feedback or invaluable experience?


It is inevitable that in a few years time the popular artists of the era will start out and will have to go through an agonising period, of once considered satirical, competitions or attempting to fit to having a box of 'x-factor' without a local venue


kickstarting their early rise. Of the many artists that I have personally worked with, only a fraction want to become a national artist. This is mainly for the fact that they believe that they will loose some of their identity and they simply use music as a form of expression and thrive in a local scene. Without the carving of an identity from the comfort of a local audience the future is bleak in the respect that popular artists are soon to be externally crafted rather than made off the backs of the musicians concerned and here it really should be considered that a live music venue is (or was) a mini music industry.


With the above considered the future of music in both the local and national is concerning. However, in the live music environment where bar sales far exceed the profit brought in from the 'door fee', promoters have slowly had more and more pressured responsibility for bringing the right performers and attracting the punters. Venues that explicitly market themselves as 'music venues' are at most risk of dwindling profits due to the nature of their branding. Consequently, it has now become a popular trend that establishments marketed as 'music venues' have now taken to re-branding themselves as first and foremost a drinking establishment. It is a sad consequence, but it is the only way to make sure that the community knows that live music is not its only saving grace.


In 2012 the government finally understood that UK music venues carry an inherently social identity of British values and therefore in October the coalition agreed to cut the bureaucracy by introducing 'The Live Music Act'. What this meant for pubs/bars/clubs was that is they were a venue with a capacity below 200 persons that there would be relaxed music licensing (they don't specifically need a live music licence) and noise restriction rules so that the scene could regenerate. This has helped establishments to continue to operate but the rise in VAT from 17.5% to 20% still reduced profitability in a market that is difficult. If the government introduced a tax break of some kind to these venues then it would be more likely that they would survive and manage to operate on a pittance profit. In discussing this issue we have to remember that the majority of live music venue owners are actually seriously passionate. They want to create a live scene and help the local artists get experience and build a thriving community, for this reason some more action has to be taken by the government to make sure that no more establishments cease trading. Without this a scene, generation and live music community will slowly diminish.


Edd Harris

Since the recession the live UK music scene has taken a blow to business like no other. The survival of independent live music venues has been thrust into a seriously concerning period of uncertainty where the sociopolitical...

Edd Harris 24th Febuary 2013