Click on the images to read their testimonials.
Sir Paul McCartney
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.
Sir Paul McCartney
Photo credit: Piper Ferguson
Small, grassroots music venues are essential to the health of the contemporary music scene in the U.K. Without this network, new artists have no opportunity to cut their teeth and essentially train for the bigger stages which provide the U.K. with a phenomenal global musical reputation as well as providing a significant financial boost to the overall economy.
We fully support the great work of Music Venue Trust and City Hall to save the heartbeat of London’s vibrant music scene. When we woz young we had lots of venues we could play in and be seen and heard, our fear is that London is losing that. That would be a damn shame for new bands trying to make it.
I have a page from a waitresses notebook, the numbered kind, with “Mr Soft £20 received Jimmy”. It’s the landlord of The Corner Pin in Stubbins and it was the very first time our band that eventually became ‘elbow’ got paid for performing. The rush it gave you. it’s like, “Wow!” Even just £20. People are prepared to pay to listen to what we love doing. It pushes you forward.
Without these pubs and clubs, musicians don’t develop. They don’t get a taste of what it would be like to live as a full time musician. And without musicians, you’ve got no new music and without new music it’s a very bland and shitty world.
So that’s why we support Music Venue Trust. Because everyone needs a place to start out and you also need to learn how to be in an audience and a lot of those small venues are the first ones that people visit as a music lover.
So for artists and music lovers, these Grassroots places are absolutely essential.
Let’s look after them.
Guy Garvey, Elbow
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.
Steve LamacqBBC Radio 6 Music
These are all bands I saw before they were signed:
Seymour at The Oval Cricketers (before they had the decency to change their name to Blur). Manic Street Preachers at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town.
Elastica at The Camden Falcon.
Radiohead at the Islington Powerhouse.
Again, at The Falcon, a small band called Coldplay.
You know what connects all those gigs?
All those venues are now shut.
All those opportunities are gone.
Every town should have a variety of places where people can go. Every town should have somewhere independent of thought and spirit to provide an alternative place where people can meet and make new friends, and come away feeling engaged and inspired. Every community wants a place that it can be proud of. Somewhere which represents them.
There’s all this amazing music and art which needs a place to go. It might be new music, it might be niché music but it deserves to be seen and heard. I think it’s critical that we encourage people who go against the grain or experiment and give them a space.
I applaud the Music Venue Trust for taking taking on this job. 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.
BBC Radio 6 Music
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.
Photo © Murdo Macleod
We are in a completely different music industry to the one I came into many years ago with just my guitar, my amp and a nice line in plaid shirts. I think it’s probably safe to say that without small venues there would’ve been no Billy Bragg. How else was an artist who was never going to get onto daytime radio or a major record label going to find an audience and build their own reality? Some things are as true now as back then and remain unchanged – the need for small venues up and down the country to support new bands/artists whilst they learn their trade and find their tribe is still top of that list.
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 Venue Trust.
Charlotte BrimnerBe Charlotte
Music Venue Trust is such an important organisation for everyone in the music industry. Whether you are a songwriter, musician, agent, promoter or manager then it’s in your best interest to make sure grassroots music venues are thriving. Without them a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tour in the UK. When I was 14 years old I started searching for local open mic nights near my hometown of Dundee and pretty much all of the venues I played in were small and independently owned. It’s at those venues where I found my love for performing. It created a good environment where I could really discover what music I wanted to make and those early experiences helped me to build my confidence. Being able to develop skills in small venues around Scotland inspired me to take my live show all over the world.I don’t want to imagine a music scene without grassroots venues at the heart of it, and that’s why I’m so excited to be a patron of Music Venues Trust. The success of these venues is crucial to aspiring musicians all over the country.
Neil HannonThe Divine Comedy
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.
The Divine Comedy
Popular music is an art form. Until it starts to take itself seriously as such, on a par with theatre, opera and classical music, it is unlikely to be deemed so by others. I have been performing in public since the 1960s. I may have picked up a thing or two along the way. I try to put on a very good show. However, venue facilities are often woefully short of what is on offer in Europe. The industry has made money, but this has almost never been reinvested into the grassroots. And there’s absolutely nothing from the Arts Council. We trade on the cultural capital of popular music, but seem to feel musicians do better if mistreated. I’m still offered sub standard dressing rooms, as if it were some sort of rite of passage. Give us the opportunity to do good work and we will.
David GedgeThe 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.
The Wedding Present
Without grassroots music venues we, The Wombats, would never have had a hope at becoming the band we are today. We spent 3 years playing tiny venues all over the country, sleeping on promoters’ floors and having adventure after adventure. These local, small venues are nearly always run by music lovers who want to be a part of the local music scene in their town/city and to give bands of all sizes, whether it’s their 1st or 50th show, an opportunity to perform. Without these venues, new local bands wouldn’t have a chance to learn important lessons in live performance skills and all the fun that goes along with it! We recently did a week of shows in conjunction with Music Venue Trust and had such a good time. The atmosphere at every show was electric. All the promoters we met were so happy to see so many beaming smiles and mosh pits and were telling us how much MVT help them and how difficult it can be as a small venue these days. I think these places are one of the most important crucibles of music throughout the world and need to be treated as such by people and governments alike. Without them, the British music scene and the musicians of tomorrow will not have the opportunities they need to hone their talent. We are very proud to be involved and look forward to doing more shows with MVT in the future!
Fickle Friends owe a huge amount to independent venues. Over the past 4 years we have toured across more towns in the UK than we can remember (over 350 shows and counting) but looking back, what connects these shows is the community, loyalty and care that existed in the grassroots venues we played. Without them our experience of touring would be much less memorable and our chance to play to so many loyal audiences would not be there.
Independent venues are to be cherished for artists and audiences alike. We’re proud to be part of the Music Venue Trust and hopefully do our part in helping to defend them.
As a band, we got our start touring the DIY punk scene playing in grassroots music venues around the UK. In fact, every member of Muncie Girls has worked at or organised shows, or been involved with The Cavern in Exeter at one stage or another. Our connection to grassroots music venues runs deep, without these small venues bands like ours would not get booked, we would not have a diverse DIY scene and we would not be able to do what we love. For all these reasons, we are very proud to become Music Venue Trust patrons and fully support the work they do.
I am one of the privileged few who has been blessed with the opportunity to travel the world and have a platform on which my voice is heard and minds are met with a plethora of diverse people; after 8 years of playing venues across the UK, some tiny, some ornate, some dank and so on; there is one residing factor that runs through all the stages we have played and that is Community. The communities that have supported us as a band and weary travellers are built from hard-working and passionate individuals that collectively want for a brighter existence. Without those hard-working communities there would be no place for the audience, and without the audience there would be no meetings of minds for the artists to flourish and learn. The commune of music is where love is born and where revolutions ignite, so for that we will always be grateful to the earnest people that house it and defend their vital walls. All is love.
Joe Talbot, Idles
Small music venues are essential for the growth of an artist, no matter the genre. Yes, the internet has provided new means and ways of interacting and exploring our audience, but it is at these small music venues that we then ‘serenade’ our newfound supporters. Grassroots venues allow me to provide my supporters with a unique, intimate experience. This is why the work Music Venue Trust do is so important.
Jeremy PritchardEverything 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 Music Venue Trust aims to protect.
Catherine Anne DaviesThe 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.
Catherine Anne Davies
Vic GallowayBBC Radio Scotland & 6Music
Seeing my first LIVE gig in a small venue as a teenager was a total revelation. As much as large concert halls or sports arenas can be fun; it was seeing the blood, sweat and tears of someone rockin’ out up close and personal, that really struck me. The intimacy, the energy, the electricity… the sheer visceral thrill. Since then I’ve played hundreds of small venues as a musician, touring across the UK and into Europe; and attended many more as a fanboy, journalist and a BBC Radio presenter. Grassroots venues are like petri-dishes, breeding the next generation of LIVE musician and allowing them to make mistakes and cut their teeth. Without these places, performers cannot properly master their craft and move on to mid-sized and larger rooms. To their credit, shows that small touring venues book and promote are always the most exciting, experimental and cutting-edge on the circuit. It’s cross-genre too – indie, punk, metal, acoustic, electronic, reggae, hip-hop and more all find their feet in these hallowed spaces; and for that we should give thanks. Even today, I’d far rather see an act play a wee, sweaty room than watch them on a screen at the side of a festival stage. Music is in the blood of people in all 4 corners of the UK, and our culture draws fans and followers from all corners of the globe to experience it. For the sake of local musicians who perform on a weekly basis, and the millions of punters who experience those performances; it’s a travesty that many are dwindling away and indeed closing. MVT is doing a fantastic job of raising awareness for these types of clubs, pubs and venues and I am delighted to be a patron. Let’s celebrate and champion these essential music hubs across the UK!
BBC Radio Scotland & 6Music
John RobbThe Membranes, Louder Than War
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.
The Membranes, Louder Than War
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.
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.
Bright Light Bright Light
Bright Light Bright Light
“Grassroots venues are probably the most important thing in the music industry in the UK. Every music fan you can imagine has a “I remember seeing [this huge band] back at my local venue and I can’t believe how huge they are now” story – and that’s such a big part of the magic of live music. From my experience, grassroots venues put so much love and care into their programming, trying to both understand their local area, and push the boundaries a bit so that people can have really exciting new music on their doorstep. Without this kind of venue, people like me would never had their first few shows. Even now, after opening for Elton John for a year, so many of the venues I play are smaller independent and grassroots venues, and so often they’re the most rewarding. Britain has so much talent, and there’s no way for that to shine without the initial platform that these venues provide.”
Bright Light Bright Light
The Pearl Harts
The Pearl Harts
Throughout the U.K. we have played many great shows in rooms and venues both as The Pearl Harts and for other musical projects. These venues have a deep musical history engrained into them and hold the raw spirit of what made us fall in love with live music. We hope that this raw spirit lives on today in our own music at our own shows thanks to these stages.
Many of these venues are supported by local music fans who work tirelessly and often as volunteers to keep the live music scene alive. They are the life blood of this industry and are crucial to bands like ourselves to continue to develop and grow our craft. We’re proud to be patrons of the Music Venues Trust.
The Pearl Harts
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.
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.
Jason IleyCEO & Chairman, Sony Music UK
Jason Iley, CEO & Chairman, Sony Music UK
Jason Iley is CEO & Chairman of Sony Music UK and chair of The Brit Awards.
“Sony is committed to supporting and developing artists from the grassroots to festival headliners. We recognise the vital role that Grassroots Music Venues play in that journey, providing an essential platform for artists to be able to take their first steps and develop their audiences. These venues are the heart of our music communities and we support the work of Music Venue Trust to protect, secure and improve them.”
CEO & Chairman, Sony Music UK
Barry DickinsInternational Talent Booking
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.”
International Talent Booking
Geoff MeallCoda Agency
Geoff recently joined Coda Agency after 25 years as The Agency Group/ United Talent Agency where he was managing director and head of Music UK. 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 clients he’s represented through this system including Muse, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The Zutons, Super Furry Animals
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 ThomasXray 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’s3smaller 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 BuckCoda 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 Baskerville13 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 Music Venue Trust and the work that they are doing.”
George AkinsDHP Family
George Akins, DHP Family
George has been MD of DHP Family since 1994 and has overseen its growth from the operator of a single flagship venue Rock City into a live music promotion company with a portfolio of award winning live music venues in Nottingham, Bristol and London. With a concerts business staging more than 1,500 shows a year across small indie venues up to stadiums, with acts like Ed Sheeran, Garbage, Nick Cave, Flaming Lips, Rufus Wainwright, George is a strong believer in the important role grassroots venues play in the live music eco-system.
“We welcome the fact that the government is looking more urgently at business rates for music venues. This is certainly an issue for many venues across the country, but it is far from being the only issue. Rent increases, unhelpful bureaucracy and redevelopments are all hitting small venues, especially in the capital. Fundamentally, small venues showcasing grassroots, contemporary music should be seen as cultural venues – in the same way as concert halls and arts theatres – which are eligible for subsidies. We are in great danger of losing the bedrock that has enabled the UK to be one of the world’s great sources of forward thinking music.”
Kerry McCarthy MPLabour
Kerry McCarthy MP
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.
Kerry McCarthy MP
Lord Tim Clement-JonesLib Dem
Lord Tim Clement-Jones
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.
Lord Tim Clement-Jones
Nigel Adams MPConservative
Nigel Adams MP
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.
Nigel Adams MP
Patrick Grady MPScottish National Party
Patrick Grady MP
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. Music Venue Trust 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.
Patrick Grady MP
Scottish National Party