Are venues and live performances still important?

On blackboards around the UK, small venues such as The Key Club in Leeds are trying to advertise shows. But, when the gigs start time is drawing near and there are still tickets to be sold, the question is, are live music and venues still the forefront of the music industry or a declining feature? Typically, people would think that audiences prefer to see their favourite bands in a tiny, cramped, yet intimate gig space. Where they can get up close and personal with their idols. However, with more and more little venues struggling to sell tickets is this assumption beginning to be wrong? 

Tasha Cowie, lead singer of Divides from Glasgow, has quite an intriguing opinion on the public’s interest in live music. “Over the last couple of years. Five years maybe, it’s got better. I think maybe when I was a wee bit younger it was great but people still grudge to pay for gigs now. Even we find, like Dave was saying the other day, the difference between £5 and £6 for a gig can be a massive difference, it can be a yes or a no. And people still complain about those kind of things.” Supporting this, band mate Andy Cook added: “When you pay £6 for five bands that’s good value for money but people don’t realise that’s good value and you know you could turn up somewhere else and pay £7 for three bands and that’s not as good.” For lesser known artists trying to make a living, it’s clearly never been harder to break even, let alone make a profit from doing what they love. Concert ticket revenues have been on the rise since 2006, but is this just from more gigs being put on, or more people buying tickets?

“Over the last couple of years. Five years maybe, it’s got better. I think maybe when I was a wee bit younger it was great but people still grudge to pay for gigs now. Even we find, like Dave was saying the other day, the difference between £5 and £6 for a gig can be a massive difference, it can be a yes or a no. And people still complain about those kind of things.”

Supporting this, band mate Andy Cook added “When you pay £6 for five bands that’s good value for money but people don’t realise that’s good value and you know you could turn up somewhere else and pay £7 for three bands and that’s not as good.” For lesser known artists trying to make a living, it’s clearly never been harder to break even, let alone make a profit from doing what they love. Concert ticket revenues have been on the rise since 2006, but is this just from more gigs being put on, or more people buying tickets?

The music industry has never being more reliant on revenue from live performances due to the introduction of streaming sites such as Spotify and Apple Music, which only provides the band with a small amount of money from each time their song is streamed from the websites themselves. With Spotify specifically, the artist gets no more than $0.007 per play, which is clearly drastically lowering the amount they make from streaming, as opposed to selling, their music. In reaction to the lessened amount an artist makes per stream, there was a legislation based around live music passed a few years ago by the House Of Lords. On this, Lord Evans of Temple Guiting said, “the Government would like to see more live music; they are doing everything they can to encourage this, and we are working to that end.”

Rob Felicetti of Patent Pending has always loved playing live music, no matter what the size of the venue is. “There’s awesome things about playing really gigantic venues to a billion people and playing the smaller, more intimate clubs. My two favourite shows I’ve ever played are actually split up this way. Download festival in 2013 was such an incredible experience. There was a literal sea of people and they were all stoked! Everyone was participating and just having fun and it was just this huge thing to be a part of. Academy Two in Newcastle is so much fun every time we play there. It’s this little upstairs room and everyone goes nuts. People just pile on top of each other and it gets all sweaty and gross, but it’s like one big party with your homies!” The idea of people piling on top of people is highly appealing to some audiences, it’s one of the things that causes smaller gigs in little venues to continue to take place. If it was not enjoyable, tickets would not be sold.

A similar gig to the Academy Two’s took place in the petite Key Club in Leeds. With sweat, dripping from the ceiling, a broken floor, and people sticking together more so than if they were covered in glue, this is another Patent Pending gig in a small venue that went right. Perhaps this will happen for other bands with this specific venue, perchance it will become a Chinese whisper told by staff that ends up with Patent Pending apparently destroying the whole venue. The thing that matters is that the band enjoyed it, the audience loved it, and a gig such as that most certainly wouldn’t happen in a larger venue.

In the views of a lot of bands, and with support from statistics, the live music industry on a whole is doing well. It may be that the closure of venues, specifically in London, and the struggle for smaller bands to break even is a sign that us as the public need to take more of an interest in the lesser known gigs going on. Go to these smaller shows and see what they’re all about. It might even be putting a bit more money into live music so venues such as The Cockpit can be refurbished and reopened, give a bit of variety back to venues! Live music and the continued running of venues relies on the public’s reaction and interest, if that is not there then neither are these features. The most important factor is that venues and live music are not declining features of the music industry, at least not at the minute. It is vital to keep these attributes alive and kicking.

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