26 January 2018 | Live

A world without independent music venues is a world that we don’t want to live in

A bleak look at what life might be like if the UK lost its treasured independent music venues

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Written by Rosie Dodds

You’ve heard the news, you’ve seen the headlines, and you probably signed the petition to save fabric - Britain’s nightlife is seriously under threat. It’s estimated that we’ve lost more than half of London’s live music venues since 2007, and the rising number of closures is showing no sign of slowing.

The decline of London’s best loved venues boils down to a number of factors: mounting rent prices and business rates, increased scrutiny over licensing, greedy property developers, and noise complaints.

"Music lovers old and new can claim to have witnessed the makings of their favourite artists on the small stage."

So in turn, to tackle these issues, the public have taken to social media, public petitions, and charities and campaigns such as The Music Venue Trust and Nightlife Matters in an effort to protect the establishments that have formed the backbone of Britain's music scene since the dawn of the last millenium.

This Monday will mark the beginning of this year’s Independent Venue Week, a seven day celebration "of small music venues around the UK and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out.”

The celebration - which has run annually since 2014 - aims to preserve the value of the sites that have served as testing grounds for some of the biggest artists around the UK. Whether it was The Six Pistols at The 100 Club in 1976 or Florence and the Machine at Bush Hall in 2008, music lovers old and new can claim to have witnessed the makings of their favourite artists on the small stage - for many the experience is a right of passage.

Therefore, to have these venues wiped out, Britain would not only lose the birthplaces of its best loved bands, but worse, it would lose the culture and community that is formed around these establishments. Music serves as a form of communication that acts to unite fans, promoters, musicians, and other participants alike, and the presence of smaller venues allows these bonds to be formed at an early, organic stage.

Without independent music venues there would be nowhere for musicians to refine their skills and build a fanbase before moving on to larger venues, and as a result, music enthusiasts would no longer have a place to turn to for finding new artists.

"Music serves as a form of communication that acts to unite fans, promoters, musicians, and other participants alike"

The task of finding new talent would consequently be left to the industry’s music moguls who traditionally align themselves with mainstream music, and thus, the future of music would be limited to YouTube stars and peppy 14 years olds handpicked from elite drama schools - a very depressing prospect indeed.

This year Independent Venue Week will take place in venues across the UK, from Glasgow to Guilford, and will champion the likes of Goat Girl - the DIY band who have made numerous efforts to take the gigging scene back to basics - as well as Honeyblood, Frank Turner, and Isaac Gracie.

You can find the full list of venues here, so get on down to your independently run local and keep the UK’s music scene alive - yes, that’s an order.