Why our music venues make a difference to us all - and what their closure could cost us

Friday, 14th August 2020, 8:30 am
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 10:38 am

Grassroots music venues play a key role in the industry in terms of both creativity and the economy.

Many studies have been conducted into the scene over the past few years. They paint a vivid picture of the essential role played by our smaller venues.

The UK Live Music Census in 2017, compiled by the research group Live Music Exchange and which surveyed the views of musicians, promoters and venues found the following:

* People now appear to spend more money on live music than recorded music. Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents to the audience survey spend more than £20 on tickets for concerts/festivals each month while only a quarter (25 per cent) spend the same on recorded music.

* On average, nearly half (49 per cent) of the annual income of those respondents to the musician survey who identify as professional musicians comes from performing live compared to only 3 per cent from recording.

* Live music has significant social and cultural value. Live music enhances social bonding, is mood enhancing, provides health and wellbeing benefits, is inspiring and forms part of people’s identity.

* The smaller end of the live music sector is a vital part of the live music ecology. Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of respondents to the online audience survey had visited small music venues (under 350 capacity) for live music in the past 12 months, and three-quarters (74 per cent) had visited pubs and bars (for live music). Two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents to the musician survey had performed in small music venues in the past 12 months while nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) had performed in pubs or bars. This is around double the next two venue types (small outdoor spaces at 38 per cent and churches at 31 per cent). Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of respondents to the musician survey identifying as being in their formative years and those identifying as ‘emerging’ musicians had performed in small music venues in the past 12 months, and over three-quarters (78 per cent) had performed in bars or pubs.

* Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents to the venue survey and nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents to the promoter survey said that they do charity work, while well over half (57 per cent) of the venues and half (50 per cent) of the promoters have informal links with educational communities such as universities and colleges.

Live venues employ a wide range of staff including technical experts (photo: Shutterstock)

The 2019 Music by Numbers report, published by industry body UK Music, found:

* Grassroots venues play a vital part in the industry’s ecosystem, acting as an incubator for emerging talent.* Some 35 per cent of grassroots venues have closed in the past decade. Rising business rates were the single most common reason behind venue closures.

UK Music’s Measuring Music report in 2018 found:

* The live music sector contributed £991 million to the UK economy in 2017.* Some 28,659 people were employed in the live music industry in 2017.*  Sales of concert tickets contributed £80 million of export revenue to the economy in 2017.

Visit musicvenuetrust.com/resources for full details of recent studies into the live music industry.

* This article is part of The Show Must Go On, JPIMedia's campaign to support live arts venues