Founded in January 2015, the Music Venues Alliance (MVA) is an association of Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) located in the UK. To date, membership has been free. During 2021 Music Venue Trust will be reviewing the MVA structure and membership – all existing members will be contacted about this.
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To join the MVA you must read the information below. If you believe that your venue is eligible please click the ‘Apply for Membership’ button and complete the form. You will hear back from us within 14 days, letting you know if your application is successful.
Joining the MVA immediately makes you part of a network of venues across the whole of the UK. With over 900 members (as of September 2020) the MVA represents a significant proportion of UK GMVs so can speak with authority on behalf of the sector. We regularly consult with members to inform our lobbying and fundraising work, share information and resources and connect people. MVA members receive invitations to networking events. We also have an MVA Facebook Groups specifically for peer to peer conversation, accessible only to members of the MVA.
Is MVA membership for you?
Music Venue Trust was created in 2014 to protect, secure and improve the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues. Prior to MVT the phrase Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) was not in use. This has changed significantly in the last few years and the term is now internationally recognised and used. MVT’s definition is here.
GMVs are the Research & Development department of the UK’s £5.2 billion a year music industry, investing over £160 million every year into the development of new talent, both on stage and behind the scenes. As a result of extensive work across the last five years, this sector has a cultural, social and economic value which has been publicly detailed by MVT and is understood and acknowledged by key stakeholders such as governments, creative industries and the music industry. That body of work relates specifically to GMVs – music spaces which have a dedicated function of promoting and developing new talent.
We recognise that not all venues that programme live music are GMVs; some have a programme of live music that supports musicians performing covers, tributes, others have a mixed programme of comedy, dance, cabaret etc. We recognise that work is valuable and important, but MVT is unable to work on behalf of all spaces which host music. To do so would dilute the research, campaigns, lobbying, tools and general support we undertake in support of our charitable mission. For this reason, when assessing whether a venue should be part of the Music Venues Alliance, we focus on the following questions:
- Is live music a key element of the venue? Is the venue known for its music (rather than for food, drinks, dancing, a beer garden etc.)?
- Does live music take place regularly? We appreciate that this varies from venue to venue, but we have established base lines (see the definition).
- Is the live music on offer predominantly original music? We appreciate that GMVs do sometimes program tribute acts and club nights but, as the research and development arm of the live music industry, the programming of original live music is core to their cultural offering whereas tribute nights and club nights are supplementary.
- Is new music performed? By this we mean new material from established artists as well as new artists (GMVs are often the venues that successful artists return to when they want to try out new material).
It is important to say that the genres of music performed are secondary to the question of development. We are proud to include venues which are incubators of electronic music talent, such as fabric in London or Sub Club in Glasgow. While these venues are also recognised as nightclubs this does not mean that all nightclubs would qualify for MVA membership so please consider the definition and context of this statement before applying.
Also important to discerning whether a venue is a GMV is the intent of the performers. A GMV helps artists to develop their careers, their material, performing skills, connection with audiences and fanbases. If a venue works predominantly with artists who do not aspire to a career in original music, then it is most likely not a GMV.
When is a GMV not a GMV?
MVT recognises that models of GMVs vary across the UK, particularly in more rural areas where we do apply more flexibility in our assessments to account for the fact that smaller communities struggle to support a dedicated GMV. We want to recognise the contribution being made to the development of new talent by as much of the ecosystem as we can. For this reason, we have developed 2 further definitions:
In some parts of the UK, the GMV role as a hub for the development of new music will be fulfilled by a GMP or a GMAS and we welcome applications for membership from these venues. Venues fitting these definitions which exist in the same places as GMVs may also be considered for membership but, as MVT conducts a membership review during 2021, it may become necessary to offer a reduced level of support to GMPs or GMASs to focus on GMVs.
Venues that don’t fit our definitions
If you run/work at a venue that programmes live music but does not fit one of our definitions, please do not apply to join the MVA. This is not because we want to exclude you or do not value the contribution you might be making to your community. It is because the tools, resources, and guidance we offer won’t be useful to you, and the information you would provide to us won’t support us to maintain our focus on our charitable mission.
If you don’t fit one of our three categories of Grassroots Music spaces, we would strongly encourage you to consider joining one of the following associations: