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.
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.
Ellie RowsellWolf Alice
Without independent Grassroots Music Venues, I’m not sure my band would be where we are today. They offered me a chance to play without knowing the first thing about how the industry worked. They bring originality, equality, opportunity, character and spunk to the cities they reside in and now more than ever is the time to fight to keep them going!
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.
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.
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
I can’t wait to get back out to play live again. It means everything to me. It’s also why I’m thrilled to become a patron of Music Venue Trust. I have always loved playing at the smaller venues around the UK and I often prefer seeing bands and artists play in the more intimate venues. This is where most artists start so without these venues music in the UK will not continue to thrive.
We both started playing live music at local venues from the age of 15, and the UK’s Grassroots Venues have been essential to our journey. We toured relentlessly around the UK in the back of cars and vans for ten years before Oh Wonder, and these small venues helped give us a voice and an invaluable opportunity to experiment, learn and develop into the artists that we are today. There is nothing more powerful than being on stage and looking out into the eyes of the crowd, and these intimate rooms are the perfect place to connect with an audience. Without them there would be no playground for young musicians and developing artists who need a stage to get their foot in the door of the music world. Our favourite shows still tend to be in smaller rooms, where the atmosphere is electric. These venues need to live on and keep their doors open to up and coming talent across the UK.
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.
As a music artist, you want the best for your career. You want to perform at the massive venues, the arenas to thousands of people. But that sort of thing doesn’t just happen overnight. It is and should be a journey, a journey that small music venues are an integral part of. In fact, some of my most memorable performances have been in the more intimate venues, with a couple hundred people enjoying the show.
Having just completed a self-managed and self-funded tour I am painfully aware of the scarcity of small music venues across the country. That’s why the work of the Music Venue Trust is so important, not just for protecting our existing venues but also for fostering the right environments in order to bring new venues into existence. I want to make sure there’s always somewhere dope to perform and that’s why I am honoured to be a patron for the MVT.
For the last 24 years I have been lucky enough to perform yet also attend so many of my favourite shows in small venues across the UK; these Grassroots Venues are the beating hearts that pump the lifeblood through our musical communities, the springboards for your favourite new band, the spark where it all begins.
Without these pubs, clubs and venues existing, the live scene as we know it will be diminished forever. Can you even imagine a world without live music? Without the sheer joy, excitement and glorious sense of solidarity it brings to us? We MUST fight to save these venues and many of the people’s livelihoods who work there. It is our duty as artists to all club together and put on a united front, for the sake of the future of live music. Thank you to Music Venue Trust, it is an honour to be asked to be a patron and I vow to help them and Grassroots venues in whatever way I can.
Grassroots Music Venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene and I’m absolutely delighted to join Music Venue Trust as a patron, but also deeply, deeply worried about what is currently unfolding around the country. Venues have been shut for months now and the bills are mounting up – MVT have been shouting about this loudly. It was heart-breaking to see the troubles at beloved Manchester venues the Deaf Institute and Gorilla – I was so pleased that someone stepped in so quickly to preserve their future, but I know that many venues around the country will not be so lucky.
I will be doing all I can to amplify their voice, the work of MVT has never been as important as it is now as the whole of the live sector is staring down the barrel of a virus shaped gun.
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
There are not enough words to describe the importance of live music venues. Simply, without them, our world would be worse off. They are where we find hope, make friends, feel encouraged and feel safe to be ourselves. We must protect them at all costs and allow them to continue to be a bedrock of our non-working lives, by supporting those whose cherished work it is keeping them healthy. Live music is an ecosystem and Music Venue Trust are vital in keeping it protected.
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
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.
Supporting the Live Music scene, and in particular supporting your local music venue is something that both myself and all my Skindred band mates are all extremely passionate about. If you come to a Skindred show you will usually hear Benj tell everyone in the room to support their local venues and to support live music on a local level. There are 4 individuals in Skindred all with different local venues that mean the world to them. Mine is Exeter Cavern.
It was playing these great rooms that initially gave us, along with many other acts, our start. For that we are eternally grateful. We would work there, play shows there and hang out there. The support these venues give young creative people is astonishing. With so many great local venues having to close down in recent years I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that people keep supporting live music on a local level. Plus there are so many great new bands out there to check out.
We have just finished a 32 date UK tour and played at some amazing venues. These venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene so keep buying tickets to see music of all genres at your local venues and help keep them in business and music alive!
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
Catherine Anne Davies
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
Ferris & Sylvester
Ferris & Sylvester
We met each other as solo artists, playing the underground music scene in London. Spiritual Bar is an intimate folk/blues venue in Camden founded and run by the legend, Rafael Pesce. Since it opened, it has been a stage, living room, hangout and a home to both musicians and lovers of music. We’ve met some of our dearest friends there and it’s how we met each other. The bar survives on people’s love of music and desire to be part of something special. Especially in such a big and competitive city as London, places like these are gems and need all the help they can to stay open and thrive.
Together and apart, we’ve played so many unforgettable venues across the country just like Spiritual Bar, without which some of the biggest musicians throughout history wouldn’t get a chance to dig in and develop their craft, night after night. In our case, this has been the most important part of our development. From when we first started, we’ve played over 100 shows a year, sometimes to just the bar man, sometimes to thousands, and we’ve built a following through playing at independent music venues, upon which our career can grow.
The relationships, memories and comfort that can be found in these venues are priceless. It can be a lifeline for communities to have a creative, inclusive hub and we will continue to do all we can to keep these magical places in existence.
Ferris & Sylvester
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.
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 honoured to be a Patron of the Music Venue Trust. Every musician’s primal instinct is to perform, and those baby steps require a nurturing environment in which to blossom. Music venues around the world from the local church hall to the stadium play an invaluable role in the creative process, allowing an artist’s confidence, technique and craft to flourish. But it does not stop there. Every artist will return to venues of size and location continually throughout their lives, renewing bonds with loyal fans as well as forging new creative avenues. Many of us return with great affection to stages we have trodden many times before, often encountering the same dedicated promoters and sound engineers, often combined into several passionate roles. We sigh at the loss of a venue not through nostalgia or sentimentality, but for the missed opportunities for ourselves as well as future generations. Protecting the network of grassroots venues is to secure livelihoods, access to the arts and to art itself.
We are a London band through and through: our first show in Sin on Tottenham Court Road, our first properly paid show down east in Passing Clouds, sharing stages with everyone from dubstep producers to 12-piece Souk Souk bands to Brazilian Electronic. These venues gave us the space to grow and flourish and harness our sound. You cannot put a price on that level of variety, opportunity and creativity that London’s Grassroots Music Venues provide, to musicians and audiences in the city and beyond. Also, it’s good business, yeah.
I honestly don’t know where I would be without the Grassroots Venue touring circuit in the UK. Not only as an artist but as a music lover, these places are the building blocks of the musical community. A venue is so much more than a room where gigs take place – it’s walls soak up every show that goes on within it, creating a history of live music right before our eyes and ears.
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!
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
I’ve been very fortunate to experience all sizes of venues, both with The Magic Numbers and also with my solo projects. We live in a different age now to when we/the band started, and in many ways those intimate venues are more important than ever. It was where it all started for us, the foundations of our music.
There’s nothing quite like standing on a stage playing and singing your songs, and hearing others sing them back to you… But there’s nothing quite like doing this in an intimate venue, filled with music lovers who want to be there, to hear every word, experience something special together and surrender to those pin-drop moments. Grassroots Music Venues have and will always be an integral part of our musical culture, they are fundamental to the process of becoming an artist. As a music lover they are also my favourite places to go and see live music.
Many Grassroots Music Venues work tirelessly to promote and support artists they believe in, it’s not done from a money-making belief, which is the same spirit with which we create music… We all do it because we love it. It is an unspoken way of life. I am very proud to be a patron of Music Venue Trust and support their efforts entirely.
The Jellyman’s Daughter
Sound of The Sirens
When we first formed The Jellyman’s Daughter we cut our teeth gigging in a wide array of Edinburgh’s amazing venues. Getting these first few gigs under our belt was essential in the development of our sound and learning how to perform live. Sadly so many of those venues have had to shut their doors. In the last few years alone we’ve lost The Electric Circus, Studio 24 and The Picture House (which turned into a Spoons) to name just a few that were once the heart and soul of our wee music scene. Also, when touring internationally, approachable independent venues are vital in providing a platform for us to reach new audiences.
If we don’t save these venues, where are up-and-coming bands going to get their start, and how can we nourish and promote fresh new talent? It is really important to us that we do all we can to help Grassroots Venues thrive in what is now a really tough climate.
The Jellyman’s Daughter
Holding Absence would not be a band without our local music venues, we grew up surrounded by live music, spending our teen years on Womanby Street in Cardiff. We were and still are lucky to live in a city where our music venues are still working so hard and putting on numerous gigs a week. We played our first gig at Fuel Rock Club on Womanby Street, an independent and well-loved venue that can only continue to exist as a live music venue with the help of the Music Venue Trust.
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
Sound Of The Sirens
Sound of The Sirens
We support the Music Venue Trust – an organisation that fights to keep the foundations of the Music scene alive in the UK. These smaller venues are the first steps of the ladder that all Musicians must climb. There is no journey without them. They represent an opportunity for everyone to access Music, to watch Musicians grow, to meet band members. We have had the opportunity to watch Coldplay and Mumford and Sons supporting bigger bands in a small venue on our doorstep. This was incredibly inspiring. These smaller venues are where the magic begins and if we lose these wonderfully creative and accessible hubs …..it will change Music for everyone.
Sound of The Sirens
Luke La Volpe
Luke La Volpe
©Simon M Scott
It’s an absolute surprise and honour to be invited to be a Patron for the Music Venue Trust. When I looked at who else they have as patrons I was in shock. The past few weeks have been difficult for absolutely everyone on the planet and I was thinking of ways I could do something positive and all I really have to do that with is music.
When I came across the MVT and found out what they do for Grassroots Venues it was a no brainer to put something together to help them and spread awareness. Sofathon Singalong started out as a little idea to play an online gig and get some of the people I know in other bands involved and it obviously struck a chord. It’s unreal that enough artists stepped up to turn it into a 24 hour online festival in just two weeks. Some of Scotland’s best talents all pulled together to create an amazing live music event from our own homes with hundreds of thousands of people joining in from theirs.
Every artist starts off in these Grassroots Venues, including all the other MVT patrons, however big they’ve got, and without them you have no music business. I’m glad to be part of such a great initiative and will do my bit to ensure that the venues survive and can have us all back playing in front of people before too long.
Luke La Volpe
Grassroot venues are imperative in supporting up and coming artists and providing the necessary foundations needed to get music to the masses. Without grassroot venues, many artists careers would take a very different shape and it would be much harder to bring communities together.
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
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
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
Phil TaggartBBC Radio 1
Once you are bitten by the bug of live music there is no going back. I started putting on my own gigs in a tiny room above a pub in my hometown of Omagh when I was 15 years old. The sound system buzzed like a selection of old fridges strapped together filled with plutonium, the venue smelt like yesterdays beer stomped into the carpet and the ceiling was barely tall enough for anyone over 5 foot but it was perfect. Artists need these venues to learn their trade. F1 drivers don’t start out on the Silverstone track in a perfect car, you have to earn it.
15 years later and I am still putting on shows in slightly larger venues throughout the country. The reason being that you can drum up an energy and a vibe in those smaller rooms better than you can in the bigger ones. Nothing will ever beat being flung across a moshpit, losing a shoe, getting showered with a random projectile pint of beer. I feel a strong responsibility to try and give that experience to the people that come through the door at my Slacker shows.
When I was playing bass in a band we played every small venue Ireland had to offer and they ranged from the technically proficient, to the bizarre, to the ‘this isn’t a venue it’s a small shed with a plug.’ I feel strongly about the protection of these places because if we don’t chain ourselves to their metaphorical gates then where are the next generation going to play? The Tesco’s or Gastro Pub built in its place?
BBC Radio 1
Abbie McCarthyBBC Music Introducing, Kent
One of my favourite things to do is go to a gig – that amazing, excitable atmosphere, getting to hear the songs you’re obsessed with performed live, feeling a connection in that moment with your favourite artists, sometimes discovering exciting new acts and meeting fellow music fans. It’s such a buzz and that’s why since I went to my first gig aged 12, there’s not a week that goes by where I’m not at a live show.
Many of the best shows I’ve been to have been in tiny independent venues around the country. It’s the most special feeling when you’re watching an act with only a handful of other people & you can tell they’re going to go on to huge things, you know the magic memory of that intimate gig will stay with you forever. I started my Good Karma Club night to give new artists a platform to develop & learn their craft and we’ve had some incredible performances over the last few years. Without one of my favourite local venues, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, the likes of Slaves, Everything Everything & Frank Turner would not have grown to be some of the best live performers on the planet. Socially, culturally, creatively, venues are crucial, we must protect them at all costs!
BBC Music Introducing, Kent
Sarah GoslingBBC Music Introducing, Devon & Cornwall
© Em Marcovecchio
Grassroots Venues are where I’ve solidified friendships, developed my passion for discovering soul-shakingly great new music, and had some of the most memorable and defining experiences of my life. The first piece of music journalism I ever wrote focused on the importance of small town venues supporting new music, and it’s been the central core of every piece of broadcasting I’ve done since then.
Without them I wouldn’t have the incredible job I do today, the unsigned musicians I work with would be left without audiences to hone their craft with, communities would lose their beating, jumping, dancing heart, and the world would lose its technicolour. Yet despite this the most pivotal venues of my youth – and the early stages for all my favourite mid-size bands – are now closed. Only a handful remain in the South West, and they can’t keep up with the demands for stage time made of them from musicians across the entire artistic spectrum. Like plants without room to grow, they become stunted, left with nowhere to develop and unfurl the leaves they didn’t even know they had. We need a broad spread of music venues catering to all tastes, just as is commonplace with theatres and galleries. The music industry can’t be expected to fend for itself any longer, and creative lives can’t survive without these venues. That’s why I’m incredibly proud to be a small cog working to protect them as part of the Music Venue Trust.
BBC Music Introducing, Devon & Cornwall
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.
Ross WarnockUnited Talent Agency
Ross Warnock is a live agent at United Talent Agency where he has worked for the past 17 years. Ross currently represents a wide range of talent across multiple genres including; City and Colour, Monster Truck, Richard Thompson, BABYMETAL and Slaves (MVT patrons).
“At United Talent Agency we are focussed on artist development at every stage of an act’s career and we believe those first steps at Grassroots Venues are vital. As well as playing a key part in the early career development of so many acts, smaller venues are often vital community hubs with an underrated cultural significance. In the UK, we are fortunate to have cultivated an extensive network of independent venues and these important institutions need to be protected and supported.”
United Talent Agency
Alex BrufordATC Live Agency
After 10 years of touring internationally as an artist, Alex Bruford started work as an agent at Reprise Agency in London. Alex founded ATC Live Agency in partnership with ATC in 2011, and ATC Live now represent 300 artists including Mac DeMarco, Big Thief, The Lumineers, Shame and Sleaford Mods and books tours worldwide.
“Music Venue Trust is doing a fantastic job of supporting and championing Grassroots Music Venues. My own touring taught me first-hand how important these venues are in developing an artist’s career – they are they crucial first step in building a fan base. A well-run Grassroots Venue that warmly welcomes the artist, provides good facilities and a great audience experience is something we should all cherish. Now as an agent it’s become clear to me that many of these venues are often single-handedly responsible for keeping local music scenes alive and are so important to the community. We must do all we can to support them.”
ATC Live Agency
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