Music venues all over the world have been having a tough go of it for a while now, as gentrification of neighborhoods has brought much higher rents, increased taxes and insurance requirements, and new noise control laws. London has been particularly hard hit, losing 35 percent of its grassroots music venues between 2007 and 2015, when the number of concert halls hosting new, unsigned and upcoming acts fell from 136 to 88, according the Music Venue Trust. Of course, having fewer venues to play hurts music acts at all levels, but those just starting out most acutely.
London has been trying to do something about this though, even going as far as instituting a “Night Czar” to try to stem the tide of closings of what’s now being called “grassroots” music venues. Money talks though, and while 7,000 people donated $439,000 to a Save Our Culture campaign to try to stop the closing of world-famous London dance club Fabric (which failed at first, but the club has since reopened), it’s been recognized that more needs to be done. That’s why when Sony Music pledged to financially support a new campaign to save “at-risk” music venues in the city, things might finally begin to go in the right direction.
While no amount has been given for how much Sony has pledged, it was also enough to bring in Sir Paul McCartney, who promised his support as well. As Sir Paul stated, “If we don’t support live music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger.”
According to Music Venue Trust figures, the number of concert halls hosting new, unsigned and upcoming acts fell from 136 to 88 in the past decade, including notables like The Marquee, Astoria, 12 Bar Club and Madame Jojos. The good news is that 2016 did see fewer small-capacity venues close in London than in any year since 2007. There are currently 94 grassroots venues in the British capital and outlaying region.
As anyone who’s ever played in a band knows, being able to play in front of people is vital to musical growth. It’s never been easy for club owners, but the easier we can make it for them to stay in business, the better it is for everyone in the music industry.