Meeting with Grass-Roots Music Venues


An update from Paul Mc

We have long championed and supported the Music Venue Trust in all their endeavours to help protect the UK’s grass-roots music venues. The number of these venues is being severely challenged and it is naturally vital that everything possible is being done to keep these places open.

I attended one of their regional events recently and was able to get a good update on what is being done to support the owners and managers of these critical music-making venues.

In summary:

  • The Agent of Change legislation is now passing into English Law and Wales/Scotland and Northern Ireland are all gradually starting to follow suit. This key legislation places the onus on the developer and not the venue to make appropriate changes to take account of an existing music venue. This prevents the luxury block of flats being built next to a music venue and then trying to get it shut down due to the noise!
  • Venues threatened with any legislation that might challenge or prevent their existence now have an “Emergency Button” section on the MVT website.
  • The looming EU LED lighting legislation will make just about all existing lighting redundant and would costs the average venue circa £25k to replace. A major push to challenge MP’s and MEP’s is underway to avert or amend this draconian legislation.
  • European grass-roots music venues receive an average of 35% Gross Income support from their governments and grant-giving bodies. The UK, wait for it, does not, typically, get anything!
  • Good news, the PRS Minimum Fee for small venues has now been stopped and will have a major positive impact. As an example, The Musician venue in Leicester ran 104 gigs in a year and had to pay PRS £38 for EACH ONE. When you consider that their average gig brought in circa £500 you can see what a major impact having to pay £38 each time would have had on the bottom line.
  • Business Rates continue to be challenged (as we do with our music shops) and ridiculous hikes still exist (eg The Fleece in Bristol faced an increase of over 400%!).
  • Late Night Levies are creeping into many music venues from more and more town authorities and are often adding circa £6500 per annum to the fragile finances of the venue.
  • Interesting fact…..people drink LESS at a music venue than they do at pubs and clubs etc
  • Concern in Northern Ireland that the finite number of available drinking licenses are too often going to the supermarkets and not the music venues.
  • New group of Regional Coordinators being recruited to support all venues across the Country.

Anyway, the main thing is that we have a proactive group dedicated to keeping these grass-roots venues open and we will continue to offer the MVT all support. These smaller venues are the life-blood of music makers starting in our industry and we must surely all pull together to keep them?