Venues Day 2018

Music Venue Trust’s national networking event Venues Day 2018 took place on Wednesday 17 October 2018 exploring the theme The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Sharing Good Practice, Strategies for Overcoming Bad Practice and How to Deal with the Ugly Side of Operating a GMV. Over 500 delegates gathered at Islington Assembly Hall for the 5th edition of Venues Day, the only music industry event designed for the people who run the UK’s grassroots music venues.

MVT patron Steve Lamacq hosted The Magnificent Seven: Anniversaries, Celebrations & Survival Stories. Interviewing the managers of a selection of Grassroots Music Venues who have survived to celebrate a notable birthday, including London’s 100 Club (75 years), Southampton Joiners (50 years) and Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms (25 years).

Steve Lamacq

Steve Lamacq
“Socially, culturally, creatively, we need venues. There are thousands of bands out there and thousands of music fans who’ve had their lives changed by going to grassroots music venues. Let’s never stop remembering how important they are.”


A range of panels, presentations and working groups discussed challenges for venues on themes such as contracts, advertising and promoters. In partnership with Help Musicians UK and The Musicians’ Union the event explored how to address balancing the wellbeing of musicians and crew with the needs of the venue team. Julie’s Bicycle led a discussion on what a good rider looks like, tackling cost, health, waste and recycling. Speakers included musicians James Joseph (Holding Absence), Shauna Tohill (Rews), Matt Johnson (Hookworms) and Daniel Connolly (Sisteray), with a host of industry speakers from all levels tackling the important issues, including Emma Bownes (The O2), Jane Beese (Roundhouse), Mal Campbell (Hebden Bridge Trades Club), Guto Brychan (Clwb Ifor Bach), Tre Stead (Frank Turner Tour Manager), Charlotte Dryden (Oh Yeah Centre) and Alex Bruford (ATC Live).

For the first time Venues Day included a presentation from PRS for Music and PPL to explain their tariffs and answer questions from venues about how and why they collect money from live events. We are delighted that senior managers of these organisations Rob Kirkham (Head of Business Development, PRS for Music) and Jez Bell (Chief Licensing Officer, PPL) were the to head up this session.

Agent and venue networking feature The Sandbox saw a successful return with more booking agencies represented than the previous year. Venue representatives got the chance to spend ten minutes speaking directly with agents representing new and emerging artists, speed networking with the people who can help them get great line ups.

MVT’s Gurus were available for one-to-one advice sessions on topics such as planning, licensing, acoustics, legal, business rates, hospitality and catering. These are the experts who assist with venues contacting MVT’s Emergency Response Service, some of whom were be available to talk face to face with venues who have a problem they don’t know how to tackle.

The emphasis of this event is always on the value of networking, venue to venue and with the many professionals who attend to offer services that can help delegates to run their venues more efficiently. There were short presentations, stands, sharing of good practice and lots of informal discussion time thanks to our sponsors who make this event possible: TicketWeb, UK Music, MusicPlanet Live, Jack Daniel’s, Academy Music Group, Help Musicians UK and The O2.



The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sharing Good Practice
Strategies for Overcoming Bad Practice
How to Deal with the Ugly Side of Operating a GMV


Venues Day 2018 Schedule

Registration & Coffee
Where: Foyer & Main Hall
Marketplace Open / Networking
Where: Main Hall
Intro to Venues Day 2018
Where: Main Hall

Lord Tim Clement-Jones’ Opening Speech

Steve Lamacq presents
The Magnificent Seven: Anniversaries, Celebrations & Survival Stories

Where: Main Hall
with Jeff Horton (100 Club) Mandy Betts (The Joiners), Geoff Priestley (Wedgewood Rooms), Robert Dahl (Cheese & Grain), Charlotte Dryden (Oh Yeah Centre), Elaine McGinty (Fiery Bird)
In an economic climate that has seen so many beloved and iconic venues close, how do you keep a venue going for 10, 20, 25, 50 or even 75 years? And who is opening a new venue? In celebration of 25 years at the BBC, Steve talks with six venues who have celebrated significant anniversaries about how they make it work.



Networking Lunch
Where: Buffet served in 1st Floor Committee Room, Town Hall & Marquee & Main Hall



The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Where: Main Hall, Yellow Room, Blue Room
Panels, working groups & presentations to support and develop your venue (see below)

The Sandbox
Where: Dead Dolls House
Venue and agent speed networking – sessions to build new relationships between venues and booking agents
Meet The Gurus
Where: Pink Room
Bookable 15 min one-to-one sessions with experts or MVT Partner Organisations
Jack Daniel’s Free Pop Up Bar
Where: Main Hall

Wrap Up
Where: Main Hall



The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A choice of panels, working groups and presentations to support and develop your venue.


A Fistful of Dollars – A good contract that works for GMVs and artists
Where: Main Hall

Chair: Jane Beese (Roundhouse)
Panelists: Emma Bownes (The 02), Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson (Hookworms), Tre Stead (Tour Manager, Frank Turner), Barney Jeavons (West End Centre), Hilary Walsh (X-ray)

What are the real artist touring costs and needs? What are the real venue costs and needs? Money doesn’t grow on trees, and 100% of the money is all anyone has. Is the standard music industry contract we all sign supporting everyone to understand that? Is the contract an accurate reflection of what venues and artists need to do together, and if not, what should be in it?

Gunfighters of the Casa Grande – Our partners fighting your cause
Where: Yellow Room

Presentations by TicketWeb, UK Music, MusicPlanet Live & Love Music Hate Racism on their work with the grassroots music venues sector.

Featuring Gillian Henderson, Sarah Slater, John Spellar MP, Richard Taylor, Paul Samuels and Weyman Bennett

How many times are music lovers going to grassroots music venues per year? What’s the main attraction for them? Agent of Change is coming to the UK, but when and how? What progress has been made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? What tools can MPL offer you? How can you support Love Music Hate Racism?

Lost Treasure of the Incas – Our partners helping you to get the most from your venue
Where: Blue Room

Presentations by Volunteer It Yourself, Club Power, Exit Live and Beatstream on offers available to support and develop your venue.

A Fistful of Dollars – A good contract that works for GMVs and artists



14:30 15-minute break

Coffee, tea & water available in the Main Hall



HMUK presents The Forgotten Pistolero – Are you looking after yourself?
Where: Main Hall

Chair: John Robb (Louder Than War)
Panelists: James Joseph (Holding Absence), Kelly Wood (Musicians’ Union), Joe Hastings (HMUK), Dom Frazer (Boileroom)
What are the health and wellbeing challenges of working in a venue? What existing models of support are out there and working? Stress, alcohol, poor working conditions, how can we ask venues to look after artists and crew if they are not looking after themselves? How can we get support to venues, both for themselves and as a means of supporting artists and crew?

For a Few Dollars More – What is advertising for and who pays?
Where: Yellow Room

Chair: Olaf Furniss (Born to be Wide/Wide Days)
Panelists: Shauna Tohill (Rews), Nicky Carder (MMF), Mal Campbell (Hebden Bridge Trades Club), Phyllis Belezos (ITB)
Working group discussion on the standard grassroots venue contract commitment to national advertising. Does this still reflect how venues actually promote shows? What can artists and venues do together to increase promotion? What is it we are actually promoting? Can a show work if a venue promotes it and the artist does not? And doesn’t all this belong in the standard contract?

The Companeros – Your venue as a community asset
Where: Blue Room
Chair: Caroline Bray (Arts Education Consultant)
Panelists: Sam Dabb (Le Public Space), Matt Otridge (Exchange), Allison McKay (The Forum Music Centre), David Plumtree (Cafe INDIEpendent)

A discussion on the differing models of company structure that are enabling grassroots music venues to assert their role as community assets. What models are working? What restrictions do those models create? What opportunities do they create? Learn from venues that are delivering new models of structure.

HMUK presents The Forgotten Pistolero – Are you looking after yourself?



15:45 15-minute break

Coffee, tea & water available in the Main Hall



The Ruthless Four – PPL/PRS presents Tariff 101
Where: Main Hall
Chair: Maria Forte (Maria Forte Music Services)
Presenters: Rob Kirkham (PRS), Jez Bell (PPL)

Whether it’s putting on a live act, playing music in the background to entertain customers between bands, or the disco at the end of the night, music is a core part of running a venue. In this session, PPL and PRS for Music will walk you through all you need to know about how PRS and PPL license music in venues and how musicians get paid for the use of their music. What are the four Tariffs, how are they calculated and how are they applied?

Julie’s Bicycle presents For a Few Dollars Less – Are you actually eating that?
Where: Yellow Room

Chair: Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle)
Panelists: Lou Steaton-Pritchard (Bath Moles), Alex Bruford (ATC Live), Daniel Connolly (Sisteray), Danielle Jones (Blak Velvet Promotions)

Working group discussion on the commitment in the standard grassroots venue contract to riders and hospitality. Is this level of rider still valid or sustainable? What do artists actually need? How can we tackle waste, and what is the impact of alcohol riders on long term health issues? How can we reflect the artist and venue needs in the standard contract?

The Big Gundown – Promoters and Venues
Where: Blue Room
Chair: Sarah Thirtle (MVT Chair)
Panelists: John Rostron (AIP), Sally Ann Oakenfold (Sticky Mike’s/Hope&Ruin), Guto Brychan (Clwb Ifor Bach), Ian Richards (Academy Music Group)

Panel discussion on how promoters and venues currently work together. What are the pressures on promoters from agents/artists, and how do they impact on the pressure on venues from promoters? What are the opportunities to do improve the ways we do things? Who has the short term benefit and who has the long term benefit?



Venues Day 2018 Interviews

View more Venues Day 2018 contributions from:

Adam Westgate, The Red Lion, Kent
Allison McKay, The Forum Music Centre, Darlington
Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party for England & Wales
Barney Jeavons, West End Centre, Aldershot
Bengi Unsal, Southbank Centre, London
Beverley Whitrick, Music Venue Trust
Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah Center, Belfast
Chiara Badiali, Julie’s Bicycle
Claire Mera-Nelson, Arts Council England
David Messer, DMP/Dingwalls, Camden
David Plumtree, Café INDIEpendent, Scunthorpe
Ed Bayes, Mayor of London’s Office
Elaine McGinty, Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC, Woking
Gary Willis, Club Power
Gideon Feldman & Natalie South, Attitude is Everything
Gillian Henderson, Ticketmaster
Harkirit Boparai, The Crescent, York
Ian Richards, Academy Music Group
Ian Shaw, The Asylum Venue, Birmingham
Jane Beese, Roundhouse, London
Jeremy Pritchard, Music Venue Trust Trustee/Everything Everything
Joe Hastings, Help Musicians UK
John Robb, Louder Than War/The Membranes
Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council, London
Kelly Wood, Musicians’ Union
Luke Hinton, The Horn, St. Albans
Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust
Matt Barnwell, Independent Hospitality Solutions
Phil Nelson, First Column Management
Sam Dabb, Le Pub, Newport
Sarah Thirtle, Music Venue Trust
Shauna Tohill, Rews
Steve Lamacq, BBC Radio 6Music
Steve Machin, .tickets
Stu Fletcher, Music Venue Trust