In this post, we’re introducing a special issue of the Journal of The International Association for the Study of Popular Music co-edited by the Live Music Exchange’s Martin Cloonan and Adam Behr, with Beate Flath. Festivals, along with live music in general, are increasingly a part of the broader political process and, relatedly, the cultural policy process. This timely issue approaches the politics of popular music festivals from a range of theoretical and geographical perspectives.
This week’s blog is a repost of an article by Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr in The Conversation that discusses some of the contradictory politics of Glastonbury as both a site of mainstream consumption and campaigning activity.
Considering the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s Live Music Report – Martin Cloonan and Adam Behr
On March 19th, after a lengthy inquiry, the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee produced its report on live music, drawing on numerous evidence submissions, including from the Live Music Exchange. Having followed the proceedings, this post sees LMX’s Martin Cloonan and Adam Behr assess the contents of the report, beyond the headlines.
The Popular Music scholar and writer, Dave Laing died suddenly on 6th January 2019. Amongst many other things, Dave was a very good friend to Live Music Exchange, someone to whom we often turned to for advice and help. Both were always freely given in a wonderfully supportive way. In this post, we offer an LMX tribute to Dave.
Mark E Smith, leader of English post-punk group The Fall, died on 24 January 2018. To mark the anniversary of Smith’s death Live Music Exchange co-founder Martin Cloonan provides some thoughts on the band’s live appearances.
Today’s post is adapted from a presentation by Professor Rajko Muršič of the University of Ljubljana to the Radical Anthropology Group. It discusses the communal efforts and work practices of venues in Slovenia and their capacity to act as spaces of resistance.
Our latest post, by Dr. Rosemary Lucy Hill, discusses recent research into sexual violence at gigs, and introduces the report and recommendations from the project ‘Healthy Music Audiences: Music, Gender and Health’.
Live Music Exchange, Newcastle. Keynote: Living Music, Situating Value – Professor Simon Frith [video]
Music’s role in, and value to, society has emerged in the news from multiple angles recently from its health benefits, to its economic contribution, to challenges for music education and venues. With music at the centre of such a broad range of benefits, controversies and challenges, we revisit in today’s post the keynote address by Professor Simon Frith OBE from our Live Music Exchange, Newcastle event in 2016, in which he draws upon his experience as a rock critic, researcher and academic writer to examine the different criteria that we apply when making assessments of music’s value.
Our latest guest post is by Dobe Newton, OAM – an active music professional for over 40 years and leader of the 2012 Victorian Live Music Census and the 2017 Melbourne Live Music Census. Here, he presents key findings and observations from the Melbourne Live Music Census of 2017, and reflects on the census process.
With Parliamentary attention turning to ticket touting again, today’s post features Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr writing about Ticketmaster’s decision to close its secondary market sites in Europe, and a video of an expert panel on the secondary market from the Live Music Exchange Newcastle event in 2016.
This week’s blog is a repost of an article by Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr in The Conversation that discusses some of the background to, and complications surrounding, the relationship between popular musical and political events following the ‘Labour Live’ festival.
The secondary ticket market has been in the news again recently, with minister for digital and the creative industries Margot James urging consumers consumers to boycott Viagogo, as National Trading Standards launches an investigation into the company and FIFA files a criminal complaint against it. Meanwhile, a new body has launched in defence of resellers – The Fair Ticketing Alliance, whose …
This week’s post features the management of Leith Depot – a small venue in Edinburgh – discussing the experience of getting the space up and running, the valuable role it plays in the local music scene, and the threat to its continued existence from a proposed development on its site.
This week’s blog by Kim Ramstedt is a discussion of issues related to the study of superstar DJs and follows the recent death of Swedish DJ Avicii. Superstar DJs frequently perform on the main stages of pop music festivals, and festivals built predominantly around DJ performances and electronic dance music attract record amounts of visitors. Yet, popular discourse around large-scale …
David Rovics is a Portland-based singer songwriter of “Songs of Social Significance”. Originally published as a blog on his website, in this article David explains the economics of touring as a politically committed artist who still needs to pay the bills. We would like to thank David for permission to use this article. I suddenly feel compelled to do some …
This week’s blog is a repost of an article by Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr in The Conversation following the recent announcement of a Rolling Stones tour. An article in Rolling Stone magazine described the legendary band – its near namesake – as “growing old angrily”. Its portrait of Mick Jagger referenced “age lines around his eyes … as old as …
E.W. Harris is a singer/songwriter who is based in Brooklyn and performs internationally. This interview speaks to the logistics, realities and significance of touring and playing live, both at home and abroad, from a North American perspective. This blog post is based on an email interview with Emma Webster on 29 November 2017, which was part of the UK Live …
Razor is a London-based grime artist who performs regularly in London and Brighton. This interview highlights some of the issues for musicians still at a relatively early stage in their career, particularly around artist pay, and about discrimination against certain genres. It is based on a telephone interview with Emma Webster on 15th November 2017. The interview forms part of …
Band on the Wall in Manchester is one of the city’s longest-running music venues. This interview with its Chief Executive highlights some of the difficulties in running a small music venue in 2017 and shows that even Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations are not necessarily immune to the issues posed by city centre development. It also highlights the importance …
Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach is one of longest-running small live music venues in the city. In this blog post the Chief Executive Guto Brychan talks about the history of the venue, its position within Cardiff’s live music ecology, the Save Womanby Street campaign, the ‘Agent of Change’ principle, skills development and funding within the sector, and the importance of developing …
Three years after Frank Turner launched the Music Venue Trust campaign to make Agent of Change a part of UK Law to protect grassroots music venues, music fans, artists, organisations and politicians united behind John Spellar MP’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, which was read in Parliament on Wednesday 10 January and no objections were raised. A huge list of sponsors …
The American Bar and its sister pub The Sunflower are small music venues in Belfast. In this profile interview, bar manager Richard McCallion discusses the history of the venues, some of the challenges faced by a new music venue like The American, and a brief account of the problems that The Sunflower has had with property development and noise complaints. …
Musicians Against Homelessness is an initiative set up by Emma Rule in 2016 with a twofold aim: to raise money for the homeless and to help young musicians to get gigs and exposure for their music. The following blog post is based on a telephone interview with Emma Webster on 18th October 2017. It is one of a number of …
Chase Park Festival is one of the UK’s most inclusive festivals and is one of very few to have been awarded Gold for accessibility by Attitude Is Everything. This week’s blog post by the festival’s organiser, Alistair McDonald, gives some background to the festival, lays out some ideas for best practice around accessibility, and offers some more general advice to …
2017 saw the fourth instalment of the (hopefully) now annual Venues Day, which gathered over 300 venues from across the UK in one room. The day was kicked off by an impassioned introductory speech by BBC Radio 1’s Steve Lamacq in which told the assembled venues and promoters that ‘We must never stop telling people how important you are’ and …
Anyone following the Live Music Exchange blog will be well aware that the UK has seen an alarming number of small music venue closures over the past decade or so. The latest venue under threat is The Cellar in Oxford, an underground 150-capacity venue which has been a music venue for more than 45 years. The owner, St Michael’s and …
Today we feature a repost of an article by Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr in The Conversation discussing the debate about headliners at Glastonbury and other festivals. Controversy around the Glastonbury line-up, given the vagaries of the British weather, is an even more reliable feature of the festival calendar than photographs of mud dwelling festival-goers. This year, Norman Cook, one of …
This week’s blog post is by Brighton-based musician, Chris T-T, and was originally published on his website. In it, he examines the ongoing issue of the lack of diversity in festival line-ups and recommends looking further down the bill to better assess the future ‘direction of travel’ for gender diversity at festivals. Note that the original article was originally posted …
Is Liverpool really a global music city? Ahead of a public discussion at Constellations on 4th May which sees the launch of the Liverpool Live Music Census (part of the UK Live Music Census project), Craig G Pennington makes the case for a Liverpool City Music Office, run by the city’s music community. Craig is the Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of …
Anna Cowan, is 17 and lives in Glasgow. She, along with 3 of her friends, founded and run the campaign, Girls Against, to fight against sexual harassment at gigs. This blog post was first published in 2016 on the Girls Against blog. I believe all powerful political movements and campaigns begin from a sense of anger or alienation; the feeling that …
This blog is an introduction to the resources available for workers who may be interested in becoming a member of a tour’s road crew. Gabrielle Kielich provides guidance to some of the information available and we invite readers to comment and suggest additional resources in the comments box below. Road crew — or “roadies” — are an important part of …
UK Live Music Census begins amidst concern over the threat to gigs from budget tax – UK Live Music Census team
The UK Live Music Census – a Live Music Exchange project – began at noon yesterday, on Thursday 9th March. The first strand to the data collection exercise – snapshot censuses in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Brighton and Southampton – finished today at 12 noon. Volunteers have been out and about trying to get to every live music event in …
This week’s blog post is by guest contributor Gareth Whitehead, who manages Bullet Dodge Records, regularly promotes House and Techno events, and lectures in Music Business at New College Lanarkshire. In it, he highlights the issue of high DJ fees and the booking agents who ask for them, and questions whether there is now a need for collective action against …
This week’s blog post is by Live Music Exchange’s own Martin Cloonan, who, with John Williamson, has just completed an important piece of work on the social history of the Musicians’ Union (for more on this, listen to Martin on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed). This piece is about how the policy of ‘needletime’, brought in to protect the musicians …
As we announced back in November, the Live Music Exchange team are currently working on an exciting new project, the UK Live Music Census, the first exercise of its kind anywhere in the world to attempt to measure live music activity across an entire country. Yesterday the University of Edinburgh published a press release about the Census and it has …
In this, the last blog post of 2016, Live Music Exchange’s own Simon Frith reflects on his 25-year tenure as the chair of the judges of the Mercury Prize to consider what has – and hasn’t – changed within the UK record industry over the last quarter of a century. On September 15, after Skepta was awarded the 2016 Mercury …
Shining a light on the ‘murky market’ of secondary ticketing – Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive of the Music Managers Forum
Annabella Coldrick is Chief Executive of the Music Managers Forum (MMF). She appeared before the UK Parliament’s Media Sport and Committee on 15 November when it discussed the issue of Ticket Touts. Here we publish an edited version of the notes which Annabella prepared for that meeting.
With the Presidential election taking place tomorrow, we repost a recent piece by Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr in The Conversation about the long and often fractious history of the use of pop in U.S. election campaigns.
From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury: The Impact of British Music Festivals – Emma Webster and George McKay
A new report, written by Emma Webster and George McKay and published online last week, highlights the impact of British music festivals and shows that festivals are now at the heart of the British music industry, forming an essential part of the worlds of rock, classical, folk and jazz. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Connected Communities programme, the report is based on a critical literature review of more than 170 books, papers and reports.
In today’s blog post Zósimo López, of the University of Santiago de Compostela, discusses the historical and currrent formulation of musicians’ organisations in Galicia, Spain, along with the impact of the wider economy on collective labour activities in the music industries.
Live Music in the Online Age: Findings from the research project Clouds and Concerts – Anne Danielsen
Today’s post – by Professor Anne Danielsen of the University of Oslo – outlines research into the digital environment to explore the new relationships between live and mediated forms of music resulting from online communication and distribution.
This week’s blog post is by Live Music Exchange’s own Emma Webster, in response to The Times‘ leader about the removal of nightclubs from the ONS ‘basket of goods’ in March 2016. The post draws attention to The Times’ seeming horror at the inefficiency of the process, a latent hatred of nightclubs, an implicit fear of gathering crowds, and the delight in the pursuit of individual rather than group pleasure. The piece offers a defence of nightclubs from an economic and social perspective, and questions the real motives behind the glee of the author in chronicling the demise of the nightclub sector.
As a new show covering Beatles recording sessions at Abbey Road premiers at the Royal Albert Hall, Live Music Exchange’s Adam Behr writes in The Conversation today about talking to the show’s producer, how the Beatles changed the status of the record in popular music, and the challenges of depicting that process on stage.
To mark the publication of our academic article on the live music ecology, the LMX team is publishing our original discussion notes. These illustrate the origins of the ideas that inform the article but include points that weren’t further developed (and perhaps should have been). We thought it worth making public—particularly in relation to this topic—an aspect of the academic process that is usually hidden.
In this week’s post we’re pleased to present Neil Cooper’s stirring address to Edinburgh’s Live Music Matters Forum at Usher Hall last week, organised by City of Edinburgh Council. His overview shows that that the cultural life of a city cannot be taken for granted in the face of urban development.
Dr. Beate Flath of the University of Paderborn discusses her the intersections of music/sound, (digital) media, economy and the aesthetics of the everyday in relation to live music and digital mobile devices.
Robert Kronenburg explores the idea of a ‘Music City’, a term starting to be used more widely to describe initiatives being developed by some cities that recognise popular music as a key part of their heritage and identity and as a possible vehicle for regeneration and cultural tourism.
Response to PRS for Music Popular Music Concerts Tariff review – Mark Davyd (Music Venue Trust) and John Markey (Young Aviators)
In December 2015, collecting society PRS for Music published a summary of responses from its consultation on the terms of its Popular Music Concerts Tariff (‘LP’) that is applied to ticketed live popular music events such as concerts and festivals. To discuss the document, we asked Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust to comment from the perspective of live music venues, and we asked John Markey, drummer and backing vocalist in Glasgow band Young Aviators, to give the perspective of a musician in receipt of PRS royalties.
Kevin Milburn’s post charts the shift of live activity in London from the early 1960s to the present day from the west to the east and southeast, highlighting the closure of significant venues along the way, including the Lewisham Odeon, as played by The Beatles. The post shows that such sites were not threatened by lack of use or decline but instead because of being based in areas newly attractive to investors, alongside other external factors, a story very pertinent at a time when, according to one report, London lost 30% of its venues between 2007 and 2015.
This week’s blog post was written by music industries blogger, Bob Lefsetz, and originally published in the regular Lefsetz Letter. In it, he examines the live music and ticketing industries, and Adele’s attempts to beat the touts for her latest tour.
Matt Brennan attended his first Airwaves Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, in November of this year. He also went along to the industry “Nonference” daytime programme hosted by Iceland Music Export. This blog post reports on the five things he learned from the experience.
Emma Webster’s blog post listing ten things learned at Venues Day 2015, from the need to make some noise about the issues facing small venues, to whether audiences are getting older, to suggestions of adopting the French model of a ticket levy to raise revenue for venues.
The Edinburgh Live Music Census Report Launched Today – Adam Behr and Emma Webster with Matt Brennan
This week’s blog post marks the release of Adam Behr, Emma Webster and Matt Brennan’s report on the findings of the Edinburgh live music census, held in June 2015, including highlights from the report, subsequent recommendations to Edinburgh City Council, and links to the report itself.
This week’s blog post explains the rationale behind the Musicians’ Union Fair Play Venues scheme. Sheena Macdonald – Musicians’ Union Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland – discusses the background to the scheme and opportunities for musicians to participate. I came to my job at the Musicians’ Union (MU) as a fan, a fan of live music. And like …
The PRS for Music Review of Popular Music Concerts Tariff is in progress (‘Tariff LP’). Originally scheduled to end on June 8th, it has now been extended to September 30th. While the review continues, and as we await the findings, Kenny Barr introduces some of the main issues at stake.
Neil Cooper is an arts journalist and critic who writes extensively for The Herald, The List and other publications in Scotland and beyond. Active in promoting, and protecting, Scotland’s live music scene, he provides an overview here of the rich variety of musical assets in Edinburgh – and the challenges they face.
Today’s post contains information about an important new research project in Edinburgh being run by the Live Music Exchange team. There are opportunities for live music practitioners and audiences across Edinburgh to get involved. Read on to find out more and do get in touch if you’re interested.
What makes a music festival? Context versus content, and the case of Festival Number 6 – Steven Brown
With festival season coming up, Steven Brown of Glasgow Caledonian University reflects on his experiences at Festival Number 6 – winner of the best under 15,000 capacity festival at the UK Live Music Awards – and on the relationship between musical content and social context at festivals.
Throwing A Lifeline To Grass Roots Music Venues – Horace Trubridge
Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union reflects on his experience of music venues and the increasingly challenging environment in which they operate. He suggests that if a healthy grass roots live scene is key to the emergence of the talent which fuels the music industry, shouldn’t the industry be doing more to help?
Towards the close of 2014, Pompaloose’s Jack Conte posted a detailed breakdown of their 23 date US tour income and costs, and provoked a lively blogosphere debate. With the dust settled, Live Music Exchange’s Professor Simon Frith discusses what can be learned from the post and the spectrum of perspectives it mobilised.
Ben Challis, barrister and General Counsel for Glastonbury Festivals Limited among other things, writes about the European festival association Yourope’s Standard Terms for festivals booking artists and performers for live performances, the aim of which is to protect promoters from signing contracts which force them to provide services/Riders which the promoter does not see until after the contract has been signed.
Live Music Exchange’s Professor Simon Frith discusses the audience as a collective and then questions its sociological role in concerts and the problems that attracting an audience poses for promoters, arts organisations and academics as they engage in audience building and audience research.
The Cultural Value of Live Music from the Pub to the Stadium: Getting Beyond the Numbers – Adam Behr, Matt Brennan and Martin Cloonan (2014)
This report was produced as part of the Arts and Humanities Council’s (AHRC) Cultural Value project and with the co-operation of UK Music, the Musicians’ Union and PRS for Music. It looks behind the headline numbers to examine the relationships between venues and provide a qualitative illustration of the live music ecology in three locations – Camden, Glasgow and Leeds.
NEW REPORT LAUNCHED: The Cultural Value of Live Music from the Pub to the Stadium: Getting Beyond the Numbers
Today’s post marks release of a new report by Live Music Exchange team members Adam Behr, Matt Brennan and Martin Cloonan – The Cultural Value of Live Music from the Pub to the Stadium: Getting Beyond the Numbers
In this week’s blog post Kelly Wood, Live Music Official at the Musicians’ Union, outlines the background to the Fair Play Guide, along with it’s reception, and looks to the future at plans to expand the Fair Play initiative and offer venues the opportunity to get involved.
This week’s blog post is by Live Music Exchange’s own Matt Brennan, this time writing in his capacity as part of an AHRC project investigating the cultural value of live music. In this post, he connects recently completed work on live music at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, to a new research project on the ecology of live music venues throughout the UK.
This week’s guest blog post is by COO and Founder of WeGotTickets, Dave Newton, in which he explains how and why paperless ticketing systems are more environmentally friendly than more ‘traditional’ methods.
In today’s post, Kenny Forbes places the development of the Glasgow Hydro Arena into a historical context. He compares it to the legendary Apollo, and makes some observations about what the differences between the two say about the live music experience, and how it has changed.
In this week’s guest blog, musician Graeme Smilie looks back at some of his own memories on the road as bassist for Emma Pollock, Unwinding Hours, The Vaselines and Karine Polwart. He sets up a typology of touring musicians – those who love it and those who don’t – before offering his own enjoyable take on his four favourite venues across Europe and the USA.
‘Can somebody help?’ The Live Music Exchange guide to dealing with illness or injury at live music events – Emma Webster
Catherine Tackley writes about amateur music-making from a personal point of view, touching on the social benefits of musical interaction, the changing relationship between audiences and performers, and the value of amateur music-making to the music economy.
This week’s guest blog is by Simon Frith, in which he muses on the perennial problem about musicians playing for free and suggests that the problem of ‘playing for free’ is caused by the ‘exploitation’ of live musicians by the people who make money out of them.
Guest blogger Alison Eales writes about Glasgow’s regular jazz sessions in this week’s blog, and finds a dynamic scene which features a mix of trad and jazz styles across the city, both indoors and in the city’s outdoor public spaces.
Attitude is Everything – working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry to improve access to live music – Suzanne Bull
Today’s guest post is by Suzanne Bull MBE – Chief Officer at Attitude is Everything – a project working towards improving access to live music for disabled people. Here she explains the origins of the project, the philosophy behind its continuing work with market leading festivals and venues, the Charter system of best practice and the forthcoming State of Access report.
Today’s guest post by Jonny Walker – singer, songwriter and founder of the Association of Street Performers – comes in the face of recent moves against buskers by Camden council, which is considering draconian restrictions and fines. In advance of the council decision next week, Jonny outlines the ramifications of these proposals and the relationship of street music to city life.
A repost of a blog post by Dr. Stephen Henderson, an authority on event marketing and management and Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University. Here he discusses the matter of ‘impact’ and points towards the need for a clear-sighted approach to defining it.
Professor Simon Frith (University of Edinburgh) interviews Paul Latham, Chief Operating Officer of Live Nation UK and Chairman of Creative and Cultural Skills. Together they discuss Paul’s career in live music, the current state of the industry and the future of live music in the UK and globally, the relationship between the live and recording industries, and issues around secondary ticketing.
Eileen Hogan, of University College Cork, discusses the annual Arthur’s Day celebration and the relationship of Guinness – along with its parent company Diageo – to live music, along with the wider implications of corporate sponsorship for cultural activity and identity.
Visual artist Jenny Soep discusses her experiences of drawing live music, the pros and cons of using ‘traditional’ and digital materials, her personal guidelines for drawing live music, and links to other artists who draw or visualise live music in one form or another.
Today’s guest post is by James Hadfield, an English writer and photographer based in Tokyo, where he writes about music and other subjects for The Japan Times and Tokyo TimeOut amongst others. In this piece he looks at the ubiquity of pay-to-play, or noruma, in the Japanese capital.
Following last week’s post about what makes for a healthy ‘musical city’ Adam Behr looks at the concepts that underpin the legislative agenda on live music, and the issues that surround the difference between music and noise.
In the latest addition to the ‘Live Music 101’ series of theory-based posts, Emma Webster and Adam Behr seek to offer some answers to the question of what makes for a good city for music and set out various formulations as to what makes for a ‘healthy’ live music ecology, an examination of the interplay between national and local policy and the musical city, followed by a case study of Glasgow as an archetypal ‘healthy’ musical city.
This guest post is by Laura Merry, part of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s network of young Trailblazers. In it, Laura introduces the recent Trailblazers report on the subject of disabled access at live music events and provides a first hand account of some of her own experiences.
Opportunity to contribute to ‘The Purple Guide to Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and Other Events’ (Draft) – Events Industry Forum
Using the example of Low at the Rock the Garden show, Andrea Swensson questions the unspoken contract between artist and audience to ask what it actually is that we are buying when we purchase a concert ticket.
Today’s guest post is by Dr. Abigail Gardner, Subject Group Leader for Media courses at the University of Gloucestershire. Here she discusses festivals, and heritage acts, in the context of how audiences experience them and their roles as living ‘archives’ of personal and musical history.
This is the latest in an occasional series of posts originating from ‘The Musicians’ Union: A Social History’ – an AHRC and ESRC funded research project based in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow. Dr. John Williamson looks back at the origins of the Musicians’ Union, on the occasion of its 120th anniversary last month.
Music Licensing and Sustainable Nightlife: Germany’s “GEMA- Tarifreform” Debates – Luis-Manuel Garcia
Our latest guest post is by Luis-Manuel Garcia, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. It provides a brief overview of the author’s in-depth article for Resident Advisor. Here he explains the background to the dispute that has erupted regarding the German royalty collection society’s proposed tariff reforms and their potential effect on the nightclub scene.
Dobe Newton, organiser of the live music census in the state of Victoria in Australia, gives some background to the census, a discussion of the research process, an overview of the findings and also comparison with wider industry figures.
This week’s blog post was written by music industries blogger, Bob Lefsetz, and originally published in the regular Lefsetz Letter, republished here with permission. In it, he shows how Kid Rock bargained with his merch company, and his promoter and ticket agent, in order to get a fairer deal for the fans.
This guest post by Lucy Bennett discusses the effect of mobile phone technology on live events – connecting them to fans outside the gig whilst disrupting and altering the nature of audience engagement in the venue itself.
House Concerts: Some Reasons for their Popularity in the Contemporary Music Industry – Gerard Moorey
In our latest guest post, Dr.Gerard Moorey of the University of Gloucestershire, looks at the history of concerts held in private homes, and some of the reasons for their resurgence in the current musical environment.
With stars like Rihanna and Justin Bieber back in the news recently for late appearances on stage, Adam Behr takes a look at stage times, backstage rituals and the common ground as well as the differences across the spectrum of musical activity in the ‘star system’.
Today – Thursday 28th March 2013 – sees the publication of the first volume of ‘The History of Live Music in Britain’ since 1950, written by Simon Frith, Matt Brennan, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster, published by Ashgate.
This post is part of an occasional series originating from ‘The Musicians’ Union: A Social History’ – an AHRC and ESRC funded research project based in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow. Here, Martin Cloonan describes the Union’s dispute – up to and including appearances in court – with George Formby’s musical director Bill Main, and how they illustrate the legal and political climate around labour relations of the era.
Sheffield-based singer-songwriter Neil McSweeney explores the idea that, for a healthy live music ecosystem within a locality, there might be an optimum number – or at the least, a minimum provision – of rehearsal spaces, recording facilities and performance spaces for a given population with a given demographic make-up. In doing do, he paves the way towards further research while highlighting its importance for policy makers and local governments.
Maps are increasingly integrated into our everyday media consumption and there’s a growth in mapping musical activity – by academics, communities and businesses. In today’s post, Adam Behr tries to unpick some of the different motivations, methods and implications of mapping the music.
Today we present a guest post by Asher Baker, an acoustic punk singer songwriter from London who performs under the name Chapter Eleven. Here he draws upon his experience of many gigs across the country to offer guidelines on how to organise a small scale DIY tour.
In this addition to the ‘Live Music 101’ series of blog posts detailing the themes and ideas that developed over the course of our initial live music research project, Emma Webster offers a model of economic risk that includes the promoter, and also defines three broad ticketing (revenue) models the promoter can use in order to recoup their initial investment.
Last Summer Howard Thorpe of ABLE2UK staged his first concert for disabled awareness. Based on the website, ABLE2UK, the night welcomed the likes of Steve Cradock, Miles Kane, Frank Turner, Billy Bragg, Mystery Jets, and Friendly Fires for a five-hour benefit concert at Camden’s Roundhouse to fund more disabled facilities at festivals throughout the UK. He talks here about five ways to improve such access.
Professor George McKay on ‘Festival, Industry, Place, Community’: Live Music Exchange Cardiff, November 10th 2012
This video is the keynote address from the Live Music Exchange: Cardiff event, November 10th, 2012. Professor George McKay gives a wide ranging presentation, which covers the history of music festivals in the context of the music industry, and also deals with its relationship to a sense of place in terms of both society and geography.
Jeff Thompson explains the concept behind the Off Axis Network, a proposed UK-wide network of musicians, promoters, and venues. The network aims to empower grassroots musicians by establishing a national ‘gig swap’ system by which musicians can build credit via an online system, which will then enable them to play all over the country.
The Musicians’ Union’s Live Music Kit: A guide to hosting and promoting live music in accordance with the Live Music Act 2012
An introduction to the MU’s free Live Music Kit which contains advice for venue owners and publicans on how to run successful live music gigs in accordance with new and existing legislation, and demonstrates the benefits of live music within pubs and venues, in terms of increased clientèle, sales and revenue.
The annual Festival Awards conference was held on Monday 3rd December 2012 at the Roundhouse in Camden, London. Live Music Exchange was there and brings this report of what was learned about the UK’s festival industry this year.
John Wardle is one of Australia’s foremost advocates for live music. A musician and teacher, his research and campaigning work has led to involvement in music policy at both state and federal level. As a leader in the Raise the Bar campaign, he was instrumental in the removal of New South Wales’ Place of Public Entertainment Licenses in 2009, which has freed up the provision of live music there. He was also a source of advice for the UK Live Music Forum’s campaign for exemption for small gigs, which culminated in this year’s Live Music Act. His latest success comes with the introduction of the Small Venue License in South Australia, which does away with the ‘needs test’ and a separate process for an entertainment license. Here, he discusses this new development and explains what work there is still be done.
As the Stones roll into town for their anniversary shindig, with accompanying media hullaballoo, it seems timely to take a look at their place in the modern music environment. Following Martin Cloonan’s autobiographical celebration of their history and its place in his own life, Adam Behr makes the case for their continuing relevance to developments in how popular music is consumed, examining their role as an emblem for rock music in the context of current discussions about ticket prices.
Our research into live music has thrown up a number of venue typologies. This blog post in our Live Music 101 series aims to critically evaluate what is on offer, drawing on industrial, sociological, and architectural perspectives; the post includes previously unpublished work by Simon Frith.
Following on from Lord Clement-Jones’ blog post about the Campaign Against Leafleting Bans, Dr Emma Webster’s reply is based on her personal experiences as a flyerer, and on her doctoral research into the promotion of live music. In this post, she identifies a number of reasons why flyering is a vital part of grassroots live music promotion, including branding, networks, and cost.
Lord Clement-Jones, one of the driving forces behind the Live Music Act 2012, is now involved in a campaign to protect small-scale cultural and community events from local authority restrictions on flyering. In this blog post, he explains why he believes that leafleting is a key civic freedom and one vital to grassroots events.
Live music clubs in New York: An explorative study of cultural & organisational change – Fabian Holt
In today’s post Fabian Holt, of Roskilde University, uses the Live Music Exchange website to present a working paper on the evolution and organisational culture of mid-size venues in New York. Taking as his primary case study the Bowery Presents chain of venues he traces the gentrification process back to the Fillmore auditoriums, described last week by Steve Waksman. His analysis ties changes in venues audiences to narratives of ‘cool’ in modern business practice and consumer habits, along with their self-definition as distinctive and discerning.
This week’s guest post is by Steve Waksman, Associate Professor of Music and American Studies at Smith College and author of ‘Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience’ and ‘This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk’.
He is currently researching the history of live music in the U.S. from the 19th century to the present and looks here at how archival material about Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore illustrates changes and tensions in audience behaviour at rock concerts in the 1960s.
Emma Webster’s look at two very different independent festivals in the south of England – with a breakdown of why one was more enjoyable and some thoughts on what makes for a good festival experience.
Nathan Clark on the history of the Brudenell Social Club and live music promotion in Leeds – Live Music Exchange Leeds, May 4th 2012
Nathan Clark, general manager and promoter at the award winning Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, talks here about its history, its unique status and the DIY ethic at its heart. He also touches on the Leeds music scene more generally and the wider relationship between promoters, venues, acts, government and the academy.
The UK live music industry conference – Live UK Summit 2012 – was held at the Radisson Blu Portman Square in London last week. Three representatives from Live Music Exchange – Adam Behr, Matt Brennan, and Emma Webster – attended the event. This post contains a summary of the key things they learned there.
In the third of our series on the theories that underpin our research into live music, Matt Brennan and Emma Webster attempt to define the promoter and how they operate, in an extract from ‘Why Concert Promoters Matter’, originally published in Scottish Music Review in 2011. The authors analyse existing accounts of live music promoters and offer their own analysis of what a promoter is and does, concluding that promoters may use one or more of three basic models of promotion within rock and pop: ‘independent’, ‘artist-affiliated’, and ‘venue’.
Today’s post by Professor John Izod, of the University of Stirling, has a historical bent and concerns the fate of musicians employed by cinemas in the 1920s. In many ways the issues facing musicians then were a world apart from those of today although one of the advantages of historical research is that it allows us to take a step back and adopt a broader view, which can reveal patterns that pertain over the longer term – to look back at the resonances between the disruptions to our current status quo and those that it brought about in the past.
Adam Behr looks at some of the coverage of the Pussy Riot trial in the wider context of the questions it raises about music, politics and censorship. What are the dividing lines between musical and political statements? As the dust refuses to settle on this case, we examine some of the problems of the relationship between music and politics, and the need to maintain vigilance in the face of repression.
Today’s guest contribution is by renowned scholar Professor John Sloboda, a leading writer on the psychology of music, Emeritus Professor at Keele University and Research Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Here he introduces research into Understanding Audiences and post concert events which allow creative musicians to elicit feedback from audience members in a constructive environment.
Our latest guest post features Dr. Mark Doffman, from the University of Oxford, introducing his research on improvised jazz performances – digging beneath the apparent mystery of spontaneous musical group creativity to examine the interactions and gestures that lie beneath and the context in which they operate.
In March 2012 Live Music Exchange supremos Martin Cloonan and Simon Frith got together to chat about music and politics in the context of Simon’s academic career. Here we present an edited transcript of the interview.
This guest post looks at the ways in which wristbands are put to use beyond simply serving as a token of entry to a concert. The focus of nostalgia, and collectors items in a burgeoning marketplace, their applications outlast the event itself and he gives some insights into the resale market as well as looking to the future and the growing use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tagged bands.
In an introduction to new joint research taking place at the Universities of Brighton and Stockholm, Karolina Doughty looks beneath the surface of busking and street music to provide an account of the different cultural and policy debates surround the practice and how they fit into the ‘affective management’ of modern cities.
Dr Paul Carr on Higher Education and the Live Music Industry (video) – Live Music Exchange Leeds, May 4th 2012
This is a video from the Live Music Exchange, Leeds event. It features Dr. Paul Carr, Head of the Music Academy at the University of Glamorgan, discussing the research that led to his recently published report ‘Playing Wales: the relationship between higher education and the live music industry in Wales.’ The paper covers the methodology of the research, including an online questionnaire, and looks at some of the specific features of the Welsh live music landscape. It also examines ways in which Higher Education institutions can build a more mutually productive relationship with the live music sector, including techniques such as giving credits for industrial experience, helping musicians to apply for grants and engaging in knowledge transfer partnerships.
In the second of the ‘Live Music 101’ series of blog posts detailing the themes and ideas that developed over the course of the initial live music project, Simon Frith examines the political economy of live music, and defines two basic models of performance as a starting point with which to examine the economic transactions between artist, venue, audience, and promoter.
This is a video from the Live Music Exchange, Leeds event that featured a panel of academics and representatives from Leeds and beyond. The theme of the conference was ‘Interesting Times for Live Music’ and the panel discussed the threats and opportunities to local live music in the current economic downturn. Chaired by Martin Cloonan (University of Glasgow), the panel featured, Simon Frith (University of Edinburgh / Mercury Prize), Whiskas (Live at Leeds Unconference / Honour Before Glory / ¡Forward Russia!), Nick Simcock (Dead Young Records/Oporto), Ben Kirby (Manager of The Subways).
Now that The Games are almost afoot, naysaying is an increasingly unfashionable position. They’re here now – enjoy. Not the most consistent of arguments – it’s like saying, “I’ve been threatening to crash your house and hold a party for weeks, but now that it’s in full drunken flow, you’re as well grabbing a beer and getting into the swing of things”. I ponder here on a couple of the issues arising from later curfews for Olympic gigs in public parks than others that have taken place this year.
In the second of our occasional series – Anatomy of a Gig – doctoral student Steven Brown explores the 2011 Roger Waters gig at the 02, examining the experience from pre-show to post-show to unpack what made the event so special.
To mark the recent fiftieth anniversary of The Rolling Stones’ first gig we revisit Martin Cloonan’s candid examination of his experiences of them live through the years, his motivations set against a wide ranging account of how their career has been intertwined with his own life alongside the popular culture and society of the UK.
Hamish Birchall is interviewed by Martin Cloonan about the Live Music Act 2012 and the campaign that led to it. This is a session from the Live Music Exchange Leeds event that deals with the background to the Act and some of its possible effects.
The first in a series of posts that detail the themes and ideas developed over the course of research into the history of live music in the UK. Here, Simon Frith takes a materialist approach to live music, examining the factors necessary for a live music event. Simon also offers an initial typology of performance spaces and examines how the venues in which live music events take place have affected the evolution of live music promotion.
We present a PechaKucha presentation (20 slides of 20 seconds each) by Evangelos Chrysagis, a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Here he presents findings from 18 months of fieldwork in Glasgow where he investigated the practices of the local DIY music community.
Professor Christopher Bailey (Director &Co, The Cultural Marketing House) chairs a panel of leading figures in the progress from idea to inception of the arena, due to open in 2013. Jean Dent, OBE previously Interim Chief Executive, Marketing Leeds and Director of City Development joins him, along with Marin Farrington, the current Director of City Development and John Knight, the Regional Vice President of SMG – the venue operators. The background to important decisions about the nature of the arena are covered, along with the unique features of the venue are covered, as are broad ranging theoretical and practical questions from the floor.
Robert Kronenburg of the University of Liverpool contemplates the task ahead as he starts a British Academy/Leverhulme funded project to write the history of popular music performance architecture, which will build on the typology of contemporary popular music performance venues that he has already developed.
Music festival season for young, inexperienced, and unsigned artists, can be a time spent anxiously waiting to see whether they are one of the chosen few selected to perform on the ‘unsigned stages’ that are present at most major festivals in the country.
Less well known than the much-touted exposure that they can bring an unsigned band is the introduction that they bring to the PRS whose collection of revenues from events like festivals is hotly disputed by promoters. Here, Matt Brennan discusses the implications and advantages for unsigned bands of a relationship with the agency.
One of the pioneers in the field of popular music studies, Dr. Dave Laing (from the University of Liverpool) presents valuable work on assessing the economic value of live music globally, collating data from international sources to present an overview and a sense of how the live sector compares with recording industry.
Adam Behr reflects on the concert in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, calling into question the drive for an all encompassing concert experience, and considering some of the problems of this model of event.
Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live) is interviewed by Simon Frith (University of Edinburgh/Mercury Prize) as part of the Live Music Exchange, Leeds event on May 4th 2012. Stuart covers topics such as his career history, the role of the promoter, the issues facing the live music industries, ticketing and setting ticket prices, the importance of festivals, the male domination of the live music sector, and the increasing importance of digital media.
A post by Dr. Stephen Henderson, an authority on event marketing and management and Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University. Here he discusses the matter of ‘impact’ and points towards the need for a clear-sighted approach to defining it.
Jazz drummer and tireless music campaigner Hamish Birchall was a driving force behind the recent passage of the Live Music Act which frees up smaller venues to provide live music. In this post, he answers some questions about the campaign and the Act itself, for which many musicians and venues will have cause to be thankful.
Live Music Disasters: An Introduction and Bernard Levin’s ‘On a memorable performance of Spontini’s La Vestale’
Adam Behr looks at some of the reasons why a live music event might cross the line from merely ‘bad’ into disastrous, in an introduction to Bernard Levin’s memorable and hilarious account of one such disaster.
Fabian Holt of Roskilde University considers the relationship between festivals and branding along with the management and control of diversity in musical and geographical spaces. In addition to being a distinct field of production, live music is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation in placemarketing, tourism, urban and regional development, and in cultural and economic policy-making.
Simon Frith reflects on personal experience and its role in our recollection of gigs. He considers physical mementos, such as tickets, and the emotional investment we make in gigs to look at how memory interacts with music, and its history.
This first in a series – Anatomy of a Gig – introduces a space for people to comment objectively about live music events that they have attended, to build a resource for promoters and musicians on what works and what doesn’t work at a gig. In this way, the Anatomy of a Gig series will review the gig as a live music event rather than reviewing the music per se. Emma Webster kicks off with an account of a John Bramwell show.
In the second of our guest blog posts, Dr Dave Allen from the University of Portsmouth writes about popular music in Portsmouth from 1944 till 1969. For more about the project, see the website here, or read Dave’s excellent blog. Pompey Pop In 2010 I came to Edinburgh University to describe my project “Pompey Pop” which covers popular music in …
A Story As Old As Time – guest post by Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary, Musicians’ Union
In the first of our guest blog posts, Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, writes about the up-coming London 2012 Olympics and finds that, as usual, musicians are getting a raw deal. If you have had a similar experience or would like to join the debate, please do leave a comment underneath the post. A Story as …
Following on from last week’s post about the demise of Sonisphere, a couple of new points have arisen:- 1) As posited by John Muir in response to my post last week, it seems that the reason for the cancellation of Sonisphere was as a result of poor ticket sales, claimed by The Independent to be because rock and metal fans …
In the light of yesterday’s announcement that Kilimanjaro Live’s Sonisphere festival has been cancelled, today’s blog examines some of the factors that have caused the cancellation of festivals over the past few years. Sonisphere is not the only ‘big’ festival to cancel in 2012, of course – The Big Chill’s organisers, Festival Republic, announced in January that 2012 would be …
Get into live music – or not . . . Since I was little, I always wanted to be a live sound engineer and even now I can quite happily spend an evening watching the mixing desk rather than watching the band on stage. I went to a gig last week and did exactly that, and it got me wondering: …
More bad weather for the Edinburgh live music ecology, with chilly conditions across Scotland, and for other activities. The situation for local live music is already problematic given Edinburgh’s disappearing venue situation. Now, changes in the law to come into effect, appropriately enough, on April Fools’ Day threaten to put more tacks in the road for artists and enthusiast promoters …
Last week’s Dispatches documentary about the secondary ticketing market has sent a squall of feedback through the public discussion channel on the live music sector, notwithstanding that some voices have been suggesting that the matter needed airing for some time now. Amongst them, our own Martin Cloonan has offered a substantive account of issues regarding the status of the ticket …
Edinburgh sometimes feels like a ghost town after the Festival – a city with a hangover, figuratively and literally. After a theatrical and musical binge when it feels like every back room and every spare courtyard is a venue, we return to a shrunken version of Auld Reekie. Maybe it seems a bit early in the year to be making …
Welcome to the blog for the Live Music Exchange. We are a new resource for stakeholders in the U.K live music sector and beyond including- promoters, agents, venues, musicians, production crew, academics, policy makers, third sector organisations and audiences. We are part of a knowledge transfer project emerging from three years of in-depth and wide-ranging research into the social, cultural …
RECENT BLOG POSTS
Lockdown delay: how music venues will be impacted by uncertainty over relaxing restrictions – Patrycja Rozbicka, Adam Behr and Craig Hamilton