Live Music Exchange Blog

‘Understanding Small Music Venues’: Introducing an Interim Findings Report – Mark Davyd


This week’s blog post is from Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd, as a follow-up to Venues Day 2014 which was held in December 2014 and attended by over 120 venues from across the UK and by Live Music Exchange. Together with partners at the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance, this blog post includes a link to the first ever national research about how these venues operate, the challenges they face and the role they play.

Music Venue Trust, founded in 2014, is a registered charity that seeks to preserve, secure and improve the UK’s network of small to medium scale, mostly independently run, music venues. We have a long term plan to protect that live music network which includes, where necessary, taking into charitable ownership freehold properties so they can be removed from commercial pressures and leased back to passionate music professionals to continue their operation.In the lead up to and at Venues Day 2014, held at the Southbank Centre, London on 9 December and attended by over 120 venues from across the UK, our partners at the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance conducted the first ever national research about how these venues operate, the challenges they face and the role they play. We feel this research is crucial to understanding what the music industry, the cultural sector and local and national government can do to ensure we act together to protect it. We are proud to be launching this interim report today to start the conversation. 

The interim report reinforces our belief that there is a national challenge to our live music venue circuit. This situation has been created by a sequence of events and developments which have left that network in a perilous and precarious state. Music Venue Trust feels that we need to take an overall view of the challenges out there. We need to be openly discussing and airing those challenges with our live music industry colleagues, and working together to tackle that range of issues so we not only maintain and preserve this circuit but actively start to improve it. We feel that past failures to talk about the ecosystem of UK music have meant that people who don’t actively work in it perhaps don’t understand the structure of the industry, or the vital role that this network of venues plays in maintaining it.

The UK is, quite literally, a music world leader, punching vastly above its weight in terms of the impact our artists and musicians make across the globe. A huge proportion of the music we export,which generates thousands of jobs, develops the artistic careers of our best writers and musicians,and is such an important part of the UK’s standing on the international cultural stage, starts in as mall venue. This is the grassroots of our industry, the research and development department of our major international music industry partners. We don’t think we can overstate this enough; no Troubadour or 12 Bar Club, no Adele. Our UK music, arguably the best in the world, is built on a robust ecosystem that starts with a first live concert in front of as few as ten people on a Tuesday night in Guildford and climaxes with 3 nights at Wembley Stadium. And it’s not just the musicians –our industry and other parts of the creative sector are filled with people who cut their teeth promoting, booking or simply working the door at a small venue. This small venue circuit is the training ground and the entry level experience for our lighting engineers, sound technicians, and cultural organisers at all levels; we need to ensure we do all we can to protect it.

A full report will be released on Monday 9 March 2015, when the Music Venue Trust will be announcing its response to what we’ve learned.

Mark Davyd 

CEO Music Venue Trust
Please note that this is a forum for discussion, dialogue, and debate, and posts and comments on this blog represent only the author, not Live Music Exchange as a whole, or any other hosting or associated institutions.


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