Mark Davyd FRSA
Founder & CEO
The small music venue circuit is the breeding ground of British Music. It’s where musicians learn their craft, what works, what doesn’t, it’s where they build the fan bases that take them to the labels that export them across the world. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the small venue circuit is the foundation stone of UK Live Music, a multi-million pound industry employing hundreds of thousands of people across the world, all starting from that first faltering step onto a tiny stage. We have to act together to ensure UK musicians and music fans continue to have access to this essential part of UK music heritage. The Music Venue Trust has an achievable plan which we hope everybody; audiences, musicians and industry, will get behind and support.
In the UK there remains an enormous discrepancy between public funding for certain styles of music over others. We all know that we have some of the best pop/rock/punk/indie musicians in the world, yet the support for the small venues in which they develop their skills and stagecraft is incredibly limited. I would love to see the network of independent music venues recognised as forming an integral part of the UK’s art infrastructure. I think that the Music Venue Trust can help achieve this.
Chris Prosser Owner of Suspicious Marketing Group
Director of the International Live Music Conference
Every year at the ILMC (International Live Music Conference) we discuss the root to success for a band from a live point of view. With theatres, arenas and stadiums to one side the only factor here that isn’t a variable is the club circuit. Without it we don’t have the breeding ground for new bands. We have see the careers of new artists being compressed into ever decreasing timeframes and we have seen their ability to make money decline also. The one thing we can control is the place where they will be born and nurtured and to me the Music Venues Trust is the nursery where that will happen.
Simon Hilton Owner of REVL8 Ltd.
Every artist or band’s apparent “overnight” success story is always preceded by 10,000 hours of hard graft. For UK bands, their 10,000 hours plays out in grassroots Live Music Venues up and down the country, as they finesse their chops and hone their stagecraft. Music is the most powerful language we possess. There’s nothing can beat it. I’ve breathed the same air as thousands of bands and been taken to extraordinary places by the magic they create in live environments. Recently, I saw two legendary and essential music venues, The Astoria and The 12 Bar Club, both dear to my heart, disappear from the London landscape for all the wrong reasons, and I am keen to ensure that similar venues are protected and supported to prevent this from becoming a regular occurrence.
Jeremy Mills LLB TEP FRSA Legal Advisor
I was fortunate to grow up around aspiring musicians and have access to an incredible range of live music on my doorstep. Experiencing music like this, at its rawest and closest, has had a huge impact on my social network and tastes, and I am delighted to be part of the Music Venue Trust. We have been working hard to identify legal frameworks that can support this important resource in the future.
Lohan Presencer Chairman of Ministry of Sound
I began my career in music as an entertainments officer in a University Student Union, booking everything from bands playing their first ever gig’s in the Union Bar to all night raves to no.1 artists playing in our larger venues. There is no more visceral example of how important grassroots music venues are in the development of young and upcoming artists. At that time there were multiple music venues and clubs in every town, catering for every taste and creating the vibrant music culture that Great Britain has become famous for. Since then we have seen a dramatic decline in music venues for multiple reasons; economic, planning and development, licensing and changes in culture. What remains is a pale but still vibrant shadow of those glory days. The work that MVT does is critical in highlighting the plight of music venues and supporting their passionate owners and operators with the challenges that they face daily. Music has given me a fantastic career and I’m honoured to be able to support MVT in maintaining and creating more of those opportunities for passionate musicians and music lovers.
Sarah Thirtle Director of Business Support Programmes at Creative United
Grassroots music venues may be small, but they’re mighty. They form a vital part of the foundation for our thriving music industry. They are also the places where friendships are forged, people fall in love, hearts are broken, minds are blown, inhibitions are forgotten, experiences are shared, inspiration strikes, happiness is attained, careers are begun, and music gives meaning to life. Imagine how much poorer would we be if we lost these places that shape our lives as young adults and provide spaces to bring communities together over the years. Grassroots music venues have given me so much: opportunities to grow as a performer and musician, and as a professional in the creative industries. Being involved with the Music Venue Trust is one way I hope to make sure these opportunities aren’t lost for others. If our wonderful music industry is to continue being the influence it is on the world, we must protect our grassroots music venues, ensuring they can be thriving businesses, well equipped to provide stages for talent to develop across the land and for the continuation of ‘good times’.
Jason Dormon Owner and co-founder of Tunbridge Wells Forum
I really love watching music in intimate spaces, it’s an experience that can’t be matched. For me, it’s how a performance should be shared; the instant crack of the snare, a moment of serendipitous creative genius, a true and very real connection between artist and audience. Small venues are where the bands of tomorrow cut their teeth and learn their art. For the audience and other musicians it’s the best place to be truly inspired. For many years this small circuit has been powered on passion, love and a quest for artistic excellence by the performers that play, the audiences that listen and volunteers that want to make things happen. Unfortunately, in the modern climate this alone is now not enough, with these important venues being sold and developed into the latest high street fast food franchise for short term financial gain. The Music Venue Trust is such a simple idea yet provides the ideal solution to protect these invaluable spaces.
Sybil Bell Founder of Independent Venue Week
Local venues are the lifeblood of the live music scene. It’s where bands start out, some of whom go on to play huge arenas around the world. It’s where they learn their craft, both musically and in terms of learning to be on the road. For fans, having somewhere well-run that brings new and exciting music to town is an essential part of the local community. There’s something very magical about going to see a band that you don’t know very much about and that experience when you’re two or three feet away from them – it’s something that can’t be repeated. We need these venues to give opportunities not just to the bands and the teams that support them but also to people who want to learn to work in the live industry and be the next generation of stage managers, sound people, lighting engineers, bookers and promoters. The Music Venue Trust offers the most realistic and robust route for these venues to be preserved and ensure that they will be around for years to come.
Contact the Board of Trustees
You can contact our Board of Trustees directly by email at [email protected]
The Music Venue Trust is proud to be supported by musicians from across the UK. Our first Patrons are Frank Turner, Mark Morriss, Neil Hannon, Enter Shikari, David Gedge (The Wedding Present), Jeremy Pritchard (Everything Everything), Moya, Andy Dunlop (Travis) and Savages.
Sir Paul McCartney Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to play in venues of all different shapes and sizes, from tiny clubs to massive stadiums all over the world. Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different. I support Music Venue Trust because artists need places to start out, develop and work on their craft and small venues have been the cornerstone for this. If we don’t support live music at this level then the future of music in general is in danger.
Neil Hannon It is my honour, indeed duty, to be a patron of the Music Venue Trust. Right now bands and artists are more reliant on live music to build and support their musical careers than ever before. Small venues are where most musicians start their careers, develop their songs, and first connect to their audiences. They are our superstar nurseries and as such are absolutely vital to the future success of live music in the UK and Ireland. We all know the problems small music venues are facing, every month seems to bring the news that we’ve lost another icon of the music scene to developers, planning issues or due to declining audiences. But perhaps with proper support and investment we can protect the venues that we have left, and ensure they can start many more bands and artists on a path to success.
Frank Turner I’ve made my career playing live in music venues, which were also the place where I found my passion as a kid. Music venues are the locus of our corner of culture, a vital part of our world and a great contributor to our economy. It’s as important to look after the smaller end of the scale as the larger, and the Music Venue Trust plays a great role in defending them. I’m happy and proud to be a part of it.
There are many great small rooms in this country who do great work with limited resources, and they should be applauded and supported. There are also great bands, great musicians and great audiences who love music and deserve the best. It definitely seems a shame that when you ask musicians around the world about the touring conditions in the UK, backstage, PA system quality… you don’t get a more positive response. I come from years of touring the UK and experiencing the worse and the best, it isn’t a secret for anybody : there is still progress to be made. The music industry can definitely affect a change. Labels, managers, big promoters, booking agents, artists and bigger live venues can group together and start to repair the UK’s reputation in live music by supporting initiatives like the Music Venue Trust.
The grassroots venues are the lifeblood of the internationally respected and loved UK music scene. All the great bands have come through them and they provide vital social spaces in increasingly corporate town and city centres. We must preserve not only our heritage but our future.
We have been touring for a relatively short time and we were shocked that even since we started, several iconic venues that we have played have gone for ever – 12Bar Club being an obvious one. We will never be able to play The Cockpit, The Marquee, Madam Jojos, Arches and neither will any band coming up behind us. We believe that music is such a huge and important part of what makes Britain great; people all around the world pay attention to British bands. Can you imagine not having ever had David Bowie or the Beatles, nor now having Ed Sheehan, Adele, The Rolling Stones, Muse?!! – all different, but all British and all started out in the venues and clubs we play in now. If we don’t start to wake up to the slow, insidious shutting down of these grassroots nurturing grounds we will lose such an important part of our cultural richness. We know that we cannot do this on our own, but being part of Music Venue Trust’s efforts gives us confidence that we will not only stop the rot, but turn it completely around.
Salient points regarding Enter Shikari and its position on “small venues”:
1) Enter Shikari cut its teeth playing small venues the length and breadth of the UK over a period of 2 years+, so knows from whence it speaks.
2) Small venues are the bootcamp that prepares a band for taking on the bigger venues and festival stages that hopefully make up its live future.
3) Enter Shikari strongly believes the UK music industry should do more to support small venues.
4) Enter Shikari is proud to add its name to the list of patrons of Music Venues Trust.
David Gedge, The Wedding Present
I’ve always maintained that The Wedding Present are, essentially, a “live” band. By that I mean that one of the main reasons I started playing music in the first place is that I was really excited and inspired by seeing other people’s concerts. So, when it came to my turn, it was incredibly fortunate that there was a network of small venues across the country where we were able to play live. In those venues we honed our craft and developed our style… and obviously enjoyed some memorable nights in the process. And the same applies to countless other artists, of course, which is why these places are so vital. There’s nothing like an intimate venue to experience the raw energy of a band.
Jeremy Pritchard, Everything Everything
Were it not for presence of the Tunbridge Wells Forum while I was growing up, I very much doubt that I would be a professional musician now. The same would be said of countless other individuals who have been inspired and nurtured by similar community live music venues – Southampton Joiners, Bristol Thekla, Oxford Jericho, Manchester Night and Day, Hull Welly, Newcastle Cluny, etc. The UK music industry needs to do more to support its live grassroots, and government needs to recognise that the health and future prosperity of this important British Industry relies on us nurturing these seeds. Very often the commercial value of the property outweighs its commercial value as a music venue, but never its social or cultural value, which is what the Trust aims to protect.
The small venue circuit is absolutely vital to an active and vibrant music industry. Without these gigs how are artists supposed to start making a career for themselves, improve as performers and build a fan base? They are a fundamental part of artist development, especially for those signed to small labels as I am, who cannot throw large sums of cash at instant success. Fans have to be earned, and that can only be done by going out and playing to people. I have learned so much from playing these places, and have had some of my best performance experiences in them, that intimacy can never be replicated in bigger rooms. People will argue that fanbases are built on social media now, but a like on Facebook can never replace seeing a new act for the first time in a small room. We must do everything we can to protect this network.
Andy Dunlop, Travis
These classic little venues dotted around Britain are the Petri dishes in which British music was cultivated over the last half century. To see them disappear would be a crime and in an age where all our town centres are becoming increasingly indistinguishable, we would be denying future generations an independent and individual place to experience live music. They are every bit as important to our cultural heritage as any country house and fundamentally, still provide a cultural service. It’s great that the Music Venue Trust has stepped in to do something to protect them.
Catherine Anne Davies (The Anchoress)
Grassroots and Independent venues are the classrooms in which musicians learn and hone their craft as well as providing vital social spaces for audiences throughout the country. It is our duty as artists to preserve these spaces, not only to safeguard the heritage and future health of our culture as a nation, but also to continue to provide alternative social spaces in which people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures can explore and express themselves safely and freely.
I’ve been a touring musician for 20 years now both as a solo artist and as a session guitarist for a number of bands. I was 15 when I joined my first band and we played pretty much every small London rock venue. Many of those venues sadly no longer exist. Touring continues to be a major part of my life and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to support the Music Venue Trust in their vital work in protecting Grassroots Music Venues.
Without Grassroots Music Venues we would never be where we are. They are crucial for new bands in so many ways. Support your local venues!
The Music Venue Trust is supported by key figures in the UK Music Industry; agents, managers and labels working with artists such as Muse, My Chemical Romance, Black Eyed Peas, Everything Everything, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics,The Vaccines, Noah And The Whale, Bombay Bicycle Club, Paramore.
Our music industry Patrons are Barry Dickins (ITB), Geoff Meall (United Talent Agency), Scott Thomas (X-Ray Touring), Paul Buck (Coda) and Angus Baskerville (13 Artists).
Barry Dickins, ITB
Barry Dickins is co-managing director of International Talent Booking Agency and started his career more than 40 years ago arranging gigs for the the likes of The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience and Otis Redding. Today, ITB’s roster of more than 200 acts includes: Adele, Mumford & Sons, Aerosmith, Kasabian and Biffy Clyro while Barry himself represents such artists as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young, and ZZ Top.
“New bands get me excited. I still love the Clash, one of my favorite bands of all time. There are still going to be other bands that come along, like when I saw Mumford & Sons in a little club in London with 150 people. Artists have to learn their trade and touring is how you learn it. The small venue circuit we have here in the UK is one of the best in the world. It’s vital we do all we can to protect these venues.”
Geoff Meall, United Talent Agency
Geoff has been at the London offices of leading worldwide booking agency United Talent Agency since 1992, becoming Managing Director in 2008. Geoff is a huge supporter and believer in the small venue scene in the UK and holds true the belief that the longest lasting careers come from those artists who pay their dues working up through from small venues. Through the years he’s booked many of his largest clients including Muse, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The Zutons, Super Furry Animals through this system. In April 2013 he booked a 30 days in 30 dates tour for King Charles across the country. “The small venues of the UK play such an important role in the development of so many bands’ careers and it’s imperative that we as an industry do all we can to support those rooms and promoters who strive to provide such a valuable entertainment option for their communities.” Outside of the Music Industry Geoff is a keen cyclist and a rabid supporter of Liverpool FC.
Scott Thomas, Xray Touring
Scott Thomas is one of the founding partners and managing directors of X-ray Touring, one of the world’s leading agencies. He became an agent in 1990 and through his career has consistently worked in the UK’s smaller venues to develop acts from Manic Street Preachers & Stereophonics to Bombay Bicycle Club and even putting pop superstars such as The Black Eyed Peas through the clubs early in their career before taking them to festival and stadia headliners. “I think as wide a possible selection of small venues throughout the country is essential for the growth of new artists in whatever genre. There is no replacement for the development an act will undergo in their first 50-100 gigs and what is learned there bears fruit on the stages of arenas, festivals and stadia. These venues are also essential to get people into the habit of seeing regular live music on their doorstep.” Beyond the music business, Scott is an avid fan of live sport and Welsh rugby in particular.
Paul Buck, Coda Agency
Paul Buck has been at Coda Agency for just over 4 years and has been an agent for over 25. He currently represents the Vaccines, Everything Everything, Noah and the Whale, Palma Violets and Savages and has consistently supported small music venues throughout his career. “I warmly welcome this new initiative; small local venues are important to musicians and audiences alike. The Music Venue Trust has an important role to play in the future of live music in the UK.”
Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists
Angus Baskerville is a director at 13 artists an independent booking agency who represent artists such as Radiohead, Duffy, The Arctic Monkeys, Paolo Nutini, The Stone Roses and The Alabama Shakes. Prior to the last 10 years where Angus has worked as an agent he worked as an artist manager and in A&R for London Records.
“As an agency that has over the years helped with developing artists from the embryonic stages of their careers thru to stadium show level we can’t stress strongly enough the critical importance of the independent venue network that we are lucky to have in the UK. This network of venues needs to be maintained, nurtured and supported. In particular the current situation with regards to the recent noise abatement legislation needs urgent attention from the government, as we can’t afford to have these small venues shutting down at the rate that is currently happening. The life blood of many cities in the UK is in the cultural scene that revolves around music venues, and a crucial part of the process of developing artists is being able to play in these venues. We need to make sure that the support is there for small venues to operate in what is a very challenging business environment – the current situation where every day new stories of venues shutting because of unsympathetic neighbours just isn’t sustainable. For these reasons 13 artists fully support the MVT and the work that they are doing.”
The Music Venue Trust has support from all three major political parties.
We are working with politicians, local authorities and national agencies to create a legal framework that protects and secures the future of live music venues. Our political patrons are Kerry McCarthy (Labour Party), Nigel Adams MP (Conservatives) and Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Liberal Democrats). Each of our Trustees and Patrons has written a special message for us explaining why they want you to support this project and what live music means to them.
Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour)
The establishment of the Music Venue Trust comes at a critical time. There has been a worrying decline in small music venues and the irreplaceable loss of classic venues, such as the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. Just recently in Bristol, there are signs that Government changes to permitted development rights to change use of buildings from commercial to residential are causing problems for some of the city’s best-loved venues. Small venues have always played a fundamental role in breaking and nurturing new music – their survival is important for ensuring that successful bands continue to emerge from the grassroots (from “a bunch of guys” getting together with “some shitty old instruments”, as Dave Grohl puts it), and not just from the X-Factor or the BRIT school. They also help maintain Britain’s thriving and diverse alternative music scenes, for those bands that may never play to larger audiences. But critically, they also help sustain the cultural scenes and creative economies of many towns and cities, creating employment and attracting people into city centres. I am very pleased to help support the work of Music Venue Trust in its innovative plan to help small music venues to carry on, as part of a protected network.
Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Lib Dem)
I am delighted to have been asked to be a patron of the Music Venue Trust. Small venues are the bedrock of live music industry and the incubators of new talent. My Live Music Act was designed to clear away some of the red tape tape which surrounds them but if they are allowed to disappear it will all have been in vain. The Music Venue Trust is the start of the preservation fightback.
Nigel Adams MP (Conservative)
I am delighted to support the work of the Music Venue Trust. Like hundreds of thousands of people in this country, I love watching live music and visiting venues large and small. We have world class music venues right across the UK that grow and nurture our amazing talent. These venues also provide huge benefit to the local economy as well as the obvious cultural benefit. Unfortunately, many venues are facing challenging times whether it is local authority planning and licensing issues or broader challenges and I am more than happy as a patron of the Music Venue Trust and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music to continue to champion this brilliant cultural sector.
Patrick Grady (SNP MP for Glasgow North) Live music is always a unique experience, and small venues are absolutely crucial for growing and nurturing new talent – and as more intimate settings for more established artists. Glasgow is one of UNESCO’s global cities of music, and the sector is an important part of the economy as well as our famed cultural and creative scene. MVT has an important role to play in protecting and supporting live music venues, and I look forward to working with the Trust and cross-party colleagues in Parliament to make sure we maintain and develop venues in Glasgow and across the country.