Music is a big part of the nightlife of any city, but venues everywhere have been seriously threatened by rising real estate costs, noise control laws, and city taxes. Luckily, many cities are finally waking up to the fact that a city without music is a far less attractive destination or place to live, and the effort is being make to save local music venues.
London has a master plan in place to save its existing music venues, and is even creating a new position of Night Czar. Even so, local tax increases still threaten to close down many pubs and music venues.
Philadelphia has introduced a new Music Industry Task Force to try to reestablish the city as the music center that it once was, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has created a new initiative to bring more music to the city as well. Denver has a particularly thriving music scene these days that’s often overlooked by everyone but touring musicians in the know.
Yet venues everywhere struggle against against gentrification, which not only raises real estate prices beyond what a venue can reasonably pay, to local condo owners complaining about the loud music and patrons as well.
Clubs have a definite lifespan, and one that makes it beyond 5 years might be considered living on borrowed time, but the challenges facing club owners today are greater than ever. Increased liability for drunken customers, DUI laws that limit consumable beverages putting an artificial limit on revenue, and a limited number of acts that can actually draw a crowd put extreme pressure on anyone running a club.
But clubs and small music venues are the farm team of the music business. It’s where young artists and bands develop their musical and performance chops, build their followings, and hone their shows. They’re vital to survival of the industry as a whole, so everyone should shed a tear for any venue that closes. That said, at least there’s a newfound awareness regarding the fragile nature of the music culture by many cities that just wasn’t there before, and that could only be a good thing.