I’m happy to announce this article will be as negative-free as possible. There’s quite enough of that going around.
First the negative though (there is a positive, honestly). Everyone knows the UK live music scene was battered by Covid. Now, among other things, it’s being hit by spiralling energy bills.
So while thousands of fans will enjoy a summer of gigs and festivals, the industry is now facing its next existential crisis – with some venues seeing increases of up to 1,400%, according to one model.
Then of course add in higher food costs and rising rents and rates.Finally, there’s the ever present spectre, of our ever greedy property speculators and landlords circling, looking for money making opportunities by closing down music venues and building luxury flats or putting in chain restaurants.
In London, The Harrison near Kings Cross is one fine example, an absolutely great pub with a tiny jewel of a venue is under threat of closure. In this case, a charming pair of billionaire landlords are asking for £99,000 in back rent for the venue during the pandemic period (when obviously it wasn’t trading due to not wishing to kill anyone). Yup, you read that correctly. The Harrison’s licensee, Paul Michelmore, faces bankruptcy, the closure of a 20-year-old business and, of course, yet another precious grassroots live music venue will be lost. Yay greed!
Currently the UK is losing one small grassroots music venue every month, according to Insure4Music, a company offering insurance to venues. However hope is out there. We have Music Venue Trust.If you’re not familiar with them, they are an amazing organisation trying to fight and stop the closure of so many of our precious small grassroots venues. And if proof were needed amid the doom and gloom that no good deed goes completely unnoticed, look no further than hit band Enter Shikari.
This utterly amazing bunch of heroes (and great band too) are putting their money where their mouth is, in total support of saving local live music venues from closure. They are donating a pound from every single ticket they sell for their February 2024 tour, and giving it to the brilliant Music Venue Trust folks.
Given the incredibly tight margins touring bands now face, this is an outstanding act of kindness, generosity and support to the UK grassroots live music scene. Hopefully other big acts will follow. Remember, most bands begin their careers in small venues like the Harrison or Manchester’s Night and Day (still alive and kicking, thankfully).