Selfridges, a flagship department store in the heart of London has begun a campaign for the next couple months called ‘Music Matters’, hosting events and collaborations with different musical talents across its stores. Having built an Ultralounge, a modern stage/area for live acts to perform, a donation will be made by Selfridges to the Music Venue Trust for every ticket purchased from events and performances they will host. To kick off this campaign, a panel hosted by singer, song-writer and BBC Radio 6 broadcaster Cerys Matthews was held at the Ultralounge to discuss the concern of the closure of music venues across the UK as well as its impact on the music industry.
Joined by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, UNKLE’s James Lavelle, Hannah Barry of Bold Tendencies and the owner of the legendary 100 Club Jeff Horton, these artists gave opinions on the difficult period small venues have been facing for the past 10 years. In London alone, 40% of small venues have closed, with many more facing financial difficulty from increasing rent prices due to landlords, excessively heavy licensing and greedy property developers. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the picture is grim across the UK and whilst charities like the Music Venue Trust have sprung into action alongside different efforts by others, there is a real crisis. Owner of the 100 Club Jeff Horton seemed the one most touched by this, clearly explaining the tough situation he’s in, even though he’s hosted bands from The Rolling Stones, The Who to The Clash, the club was issued to close in 2010 before support from Paul McCartney and a collaboration with Nike as well as Converse kept the place open. Whilst luckily this happened, many venues across the country may not have such a big past or public image and therefore organizations such as the Music Venue Trust were created to help them.
Contrary to what it may seem, the music industry is thriving with a value of 3.5 billion pounds and small venues are playing a big role in this but aren’t benefitting from it all that much. With companies like O2 and others having taken control of stadiums as well as other large venues, a gap is being created between small places and a stadium, meaning the ladder system for artist to work their way up is lost. Bands in the future are in risk of losing out on the opportunity to build experience, knowledge and roots to spread their music across the country. To be honest, this is much bigger than just artists, the souls behind the venues that work tirelessly to put on shows are at risk, cities’ arts and music inspiration are at risk which could bring a big shock culturally for music.
Here at Just Musically Speaking, we find it important to point out these issues, writing about music, it is also our mission to attend the calls for help, awareness and debate in how we can continue to grow the music as well as arts scene. Whilst the future may look bleak, it has stemmed a generation to step up and create their own spaces, venues as well as flourish ideas about reviving the scene such as panelist Hannah Barry has done. Overall, this was an interesting talk with experts of varying aspects of the music industry coming to agreement on the tough times ahead, a discussion which is far from being over and solved for that matter.
More about the Music Venue Trust:http://musicvenuetrust.com/
More about the issue: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/istudents/small-music-venues-in-the-uk-are-under-threat-and-we-need-to-do-something-drastic-about-it-a6825456.html