COVID-19 and The Music Industry

COVID-19 and The Music Industry

My Thoughts and How We Can Help

Music has been a saviour for so many.
Now it is our turn to save music.

I don’t know where to start with this. All I know is that I hold an immense passion for music and I want to help in this pressing time. I hope that through writing, I will be able to do so.

Sadly, unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you will be more than aware of the current health crisis our world is facing. It is without doubt that this is a worrying and uncertain time for almost everyone, and honestly I am struggling to process it all myself. It feels as though we are in some dystopian universe. Unfortunately however, I am more than aware that this is indeed real. I am continually trying my best to remain positive amongst all of this chaos, but it isn’t proving to be an easy task.

Almost everywhere you look COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, is being talked about. It has sent our world into a state of panic, and has had an impact on each of our day to day lives. In particular, a part of our world that I hold very close to my heart is being hit hard. The music industry, and at its very core, our independent venues and emerging musicians.

Many independent music venues exist as small businesses. With mass gatherings such as gigs being discouraged for the time being, they will struggle to survive. Recently many of them have made the completely selfless decision to close amid this health scare. They have put the health and safety of everyone above their businesses.

Other venues have no choice but to stay open, not for thoughtless reasons, but because heartbreakingly they have no other option for their future to remain intact. Officially the government haven’t yet forced music venues to close, which means that by closing, many will not be covered by insurance. They have been placed in a very awkward situation. Anger and vengeance are being directed towards venues if they close, and if they stay open, which is awful to witness.

Whether these venues close or stay open, is not what I want to dwell upon in this post, as I know this is currently a topic for debate. However, I urge that from reading this, you join myself and many others in helping to support these venues and emerging bands in whatever way we can. We are all music lovers, and when this all hopefully comes to an end, we have to ask ourselves – how will we feel if these venues cease to exist? Without venues there will be limited spaces for our emerging artists to flourish and we could lose a very big part of our culture too. That could be the harsh reality we are potentially looking at in the not so distant future. 

Organisation such as the Music Venue Trust and Independent Venue Week are posting regular updates and information on how you can support venues at such a crucial stage. Each venue in your local area will also be keeping everyone up to date via social media too. It is worth keeping an eye on your favourite bands too, as they may be feeling a little lost, especially if they had a tour planned.

I have been scouring the internet and my brain for ways to help, and have compiled a little list of some ideas which we could try, to reach out and support music venues so that they remain loved and looked after during this difficult time. Likewise many bands have had their tours postponed too, so they will need lots of love and encouragement. Please use these tips for both.

♡ Follow, share and like their social media posts. Build up future audiences. Keep the momentum and love for live music going

♡ Look out for online gig streaming. Many local venues and bands are now looking towards this as an alternative to real life gigs

♡ Keep hold of tickets for shows that have been cancelled and rescheduled for a later date, instead of requesting a refund

♡ Sign the MVT Petition for our government to force music venues to close so that they will have further financial support

♡ If you can afford to and fancy an addition to your wardrobe, buy their merch. Many of your favourite music hubs have t-shirts and merchandise you may never have known about. Now is the time to look. Bands will have vinyls and all sorts online too, so check out their websites.

♡ Organise or contribute to a fundraiser, again this one is only if you are financially happy to. Don’t feel pressurised. 

♡ Keep talking about our live venues, don’t let them fade away into the background. Future dates outside of March/April are still in place for now. Hype up your favourite bands and music venues on social media! They will still have tickets to sell online. 

♡ Love and support one another. If you don’t agree with a venues choice to close or stay open, then sending a torrent of abuse their way certainly won’t help anything. Support and encourage bands to keep writing and recording songs. We will never stop listening.

Always be kind. 

♡ Blast your favourite music out LOUD! By doing this you are also supporting musicians in a huge way! We may not be able to go to a gig, but we can cheer ourselves up all the same.

Music is a powerful message. 

Basically I am of the belief that we’re better solving this together than apart, despite the social distancing of course.
We’re all going to need each other in this situation. Music Venues, Venue Staff, Gig Promoters, Musicians… the list goes on. The Music Industry as a whole and fans alike, I’m talking to you. We all require our wonderful music community more so now than ever, so let’s remain a glorious crowd.

Music has been a saviour for so many. Now it is our turn to save music.

If you have any further suggestions on ways we can all help, please comment below.
I kindly ask you to share this post far and wide.

I’m sending lots of love to you all!

Together we can make a difference ♡

Independent Venues: The Heart of Music – Part 2

Independent Venues: The Heart of Music – Part 2

The Community Spirit Surrounding Independent Music Venues

Together we are the music community. All of us care for and love our Independent Music Venues. It is our spirit and dedication that will keep the heart of music beating.

Since I’ve started my blog I have felt more involved in the warm, friendly community of our music scene than ever before, and it has truly overwhelmed me how kind and encouraging everyone has been towards my writing. I have been so welcomed into such a friendly and supportive network, that makes up our music community. Everyone involved in the music scene has an ultimate shared love, of helping talented emerging artists to grow, but with this exists a fantastic sense of belonging, passion for music and care in the way music is manifested, that is far more intricate than I ever realised before. In my local area, names in the industry are all so encouraging of one another, it is truly beautiful to behold. However you are involved within the music scene; whether you are a fan, someone who works within it, or are part of a band, then you must see that this lovely community are so important. Hence why we must protect our Independent Venues at all costs.

Independent Venues provide spaces for bands to perform, and for music to flourish. They hold moments, they hold memories, and are such brilliantly vibrant places to visit. Despite all being home to the same purpose, none are carbon copies of each other. Each has their own quirky design, décor and a valid place within the community. Independent Venues have a charm and spark about them, which I personally think you’d struggle to find anywhere else. They are run by a team of hardworking individuals, that are supported by equally as hardworking organisations, along with musicians.

Now, more then ever, we need to support our Independent Music Venues. Many of them have been in danger of closure over the last decade, and a lot have unfortunately had no choice but to close in recent years. Crippling business rates and economic struggles have made maintaining these venues a lot of work, and this is a terrible shame as they are such a fundamental, and loved part of our music scene. Thankfully for those that remain today, there has been some marvellous news arriving from the UK government recently. A 50% reduction in the business rates of small and medium sized music venues, releases a staggering £1.7 million back in to the live music sector. This is a huge, rejoicing moment for these venues, that have been provided with a helping hand needed to survive financially. This announcement came from the Music Venue Trust. An organisation established since 2014, working with immense drive to support these music venues and fight for their survival.

MVT Logo

On a local scale, across the UK in each town or city, there have been outpourings of care and generosity in helping our much loved venues to remain in business throughout difficult times. However, despite everyone’s best efforts, before the announcement was made, certain situations involving closure were inevitable. In the last year alone, Cardiff has sadly lost both Gwdihw and 10 Feet Tall’s Undertone, which has broken the hearts of our Capital. We’re an adoring city of music with a thriving scene, yet there have still been venue closures. Independent Music Venues are primarily businesses of course, but they are also so much more than that. These venues are workplaces to an array of staff, a stage for incredible rising musicians, and a place to enjoy and make memories for music fans.

Despite the continuing fight against closure, there is one important word to hold on to and remember, this a fight. It’s an ongoing one and it may not be easy at times, but it is one we strongly hope and believe we can win. There has already been great support with government funding. It is worth remembering though, that by doing something as simple as buying tickets, visiting these venues and showing your love for music, you are helping to support these venues and keep them alive too. A small act can make all the difference.

Horizons Presents Gruff Rhys at Clwb Ifor Bach (IVW 2020)

Many organisations host brilliant schemes which in turn support venues also, by enabling emerging musicians to begin touring and performing within them. In Wales there are currently some wonderful funding schemes for musicians available from companies such as Horizons Cymru. An example of this is their Launchpad. This scheme is currently open to bands and artists based in Wales, who are starting their musical journey. Up to £2,000 can be offered to each successful applicant, funding activities that will help them reach their musical aspirations. If you are interested, or know someone who is, then applications will need to be emailed to Horizons by February 9th. Further details can be found on their website which I will link below. By supporting emerging artists, these companies harbour the existing potential of music venues, but also help them to grow.

Caring individuals and organisations in each locality keep their music community knitted together. These wonderfully kind and passionate people provide the heart and drive behind our venues, true champions who help local venues to thrive. Our music community is made up of many different shapes and sizes, all of whom work equally as hard to protect and nourish different areas of the music scene. These people help to create a music hub, which allows music venues to thrive, despite economical challenges. Independent Music Venues will never stand alone. Take for example Cardiff’s Womanby Street, home to a number of music venues and a variety of similar bars and supportive neighbouring businesses. The music scene there is second to none, it’s always lively, quirky and vibrant, providing a wonderful atmosphere of hope, that music is certainly set to remain.

Venue owners and staff, promoters and event organisers, journalists and bloggers, bands and musicians, fans and so many more. Together we are the music community. All of us care for and love our Independent Music Venues. It is our spirit and dedication that will keep the heart of music beating.

The final post in my series, Part 3, will be shared on Friday. Thank you all so much for reading.

Read Part 1 on Why I Love Independent Venues here:


Independent Venues: The Heart Of Music – Part 1

Independent Venues: The Heart Of Music – Part 1

Part 1: Why I Prefer Gigs in Independent Venues

I have been an avid gig goer for a number of years now, and during this time one recurring thing has become apparent to me, that I felt would not only be interesting, but crucially important to write about. In the heart of this blog itself, you’ll see that I do not hide my preference for attending gigs in smaller independent music venues, over larger corporate arenas and stadiums. Following on from Independent Venue Week, through a series of posts I will be writing, I want to share with you the many reasons why I love smaller venues, show you the wonderful community that comes with them, and help bring recognition to hardworking venues that I’m sure you’ll love as much as I do. I hope to inspire you and in turn highlight how truly important these venues are to the local music scene.

Intimate Gig Experience

It wasn’t until I became older and my music tastes developed, that I discovered smaller local venues, and it’s safe to say that from the moment I did, I fell in love. For me, a smaller venue provides a much more intimate gig experience. Home to a gorgeous array of musicians, longing to perform and passionate in doing so; I have been able to see so many unique, talented bands and musicians in a very short space of time thanks to my local venues.

More Connected With The Bands

Independent venues are often smaller in size, and due to this enable a better view of the stage, and what I have found to be much more intricate gigs. On almost every occasion I have attended smaller venues, I have been provided with a happier, more enriching experience. I personally feel closer and more connected with the band I’m watching, and find that it’s nice to have musicians playing at a level where you can interact with them, rather than them being miles away, separated by barriers and a sky-high stage. I love a gig where band members are able to dive into the crowd if they so wish, not ones where they’re so far away you can barely see their faces unless you’re stood at the front.

The Amazons, at Clwb Ifor Bach, February 2019

Able to Speak to Bands and Musicians

More often than not, you will also get the chance to speak to the bands and musicians, before, during and after the gig at independent venues. I have met and spoken to musicians I absolutely adore in smaller venues, and although larger arenas and stadiums can offer meet and greets, it just doesn’t quite have the same appeal to me as a band that are just mingling around after the show for the love of it. I’ve had drinks with my favourite band members, and even become friends with some of them simply through interacting at gigs.

Myself and Trampolene’s Jack Jones

Smaller Crowd Helps Reduce Anxiety

Independent venues tend to house a smaller crowd, which is great from the perspective of being able to watch a band and interact with them. However, a smaller crowd can also be a huge benefit for a much more meaningful reason, which could help support more people than you’d realise. Due to these venues being smaller in size, they generally allow for an overall easier gig experience, by having less people in them. A smaller crowd, reduces the swell of gig-goers, and the common problem of pushing and shoving that puts so many off going to see a band. Although of course this may vary depending on the genre of gigs you prefer. I’m not the most confident person in the world, and as a result I don’t always enjoy being crammed into a larger venue with thousands of people, especially if I’m standing. Personally, I find smaller venues far less anxiety-inducing, and would argue that these venues make being able to watch live music much more accessible for those who may have anxiety, autism, or phobias which often make them feel uneasy and distressed amongst a large group of people, especially a boisterous crowd. Smaller venues have clear entry and exit points, and everything is in easy reach, thus reducing the claustrophobia effect which many people can find frightening in an overwhelming, crowded environment.

Matt Maltese at Clwb Ifor Bach, 16/11/19

Low Price of Tickets

The next point I wanted to talk about was how incredibly worth your money, a ticket for an independent venue is. Ticket prices do not often rise above twenty pounds, which makes seeing a band in a small venue an amazing bargain. Also many smaller venues cut out the admin and booking fees that can be attached to the cost of tickets purchased from giants in the industry. The low cost of tickets at these venues, mean you can afford to go to more gigs as a result, and in turn you will get see a lot more bands and musicians. Not to mention all the better for visiting that precious merch table. Keeping costs low also allows you the means to visit a variety of local venues of the same nature, many of which even host free gigs or club nights that don’t require a ticket for entry. I cannot emphasize enough how important exploring your local venues is, if you have five minutes spare take the time to look them up and follow them on social media. See what they have to offer. You never know who may be appearing on stage next.

Tickets for Trampolene in the Bunkhouse at just £8.00 each

Multi-Venue Events

Local venues bring so much variety to the scene, by not only hosting amazing worthwhile gigs, but also special events. All-day gigs and charity events can be a regular occurrence, and these usually have a high number of acts on the bill, allowing you access to not just one but half a dozen of brilliant musicians. Just last week, I attended a gig hosted by Horizons Cymru, which was free and only required a contribution to Children in Need on the door. There were eight different musicians in the lineup, all of varying genres and I thoroughly enjoyed. Events like this are not uncommon amongst independent venues, who are passionate about what they do and love music. In addition, many local venues often collaborate together through multi-venue weekend festivals such as Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival and Swansea’s Fringe Festival. These events bring your local venues together, by hosting different bands in each one and giving them the opportunity to showcase themselves to a wider audience throughout the event. Bringing the music community together. Tickets for events such as these are usually very reasonable also, for the multitudes of entertainment they have on offer. If you fancy trying a multi-venue event for yourself, Ritual Union is Bristol’s answer, and this will be taking place at the end of March. I will link further information and tickets at the end of this post. 

Supporting Emerging Bands, Culture and Economy

By attending local venues you are not only helping to support your local economy, but you’re also helping to nurture culture within your town or city. Local venues allow you to support and help grow wonderfully talented emerging bands and musicians. In return, you get to see these bands at the very beginning of their career. I can say from experience, that it’s such an incredibly humbling privilege to witness a band developing their music career. Even the most famous have started somewhere. As I touched upon at the start of this post, smaller venues allow you that space to be at one with a band, you can get to know them, support them and follow their journey. To think that attending a gig in a local venue can allow you this pleasure should make anyone want to buy a ticket for their next gig right this second. Smaller venues are home to so much talent, and many of these musicians are more than capable of really making it big. For example, Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival, hosted a set from Sam Fender a few years ago when he was only just stepping out in to the music industry, and look at how successful he is now. Even if bands you see at smaller venues do not initially make it big as the industry would define, then I’m of the opinion that I’ve gotten to know and see some absolutely wonderful, talented individuals, and that is certainly not time wasted. Bands are so grateful for your support at local venues. If you don’t choose to go to these gigs, then you’re not giving these emerging bands and musicians that chance to prove themselves. Support what they have to offer you, and you’ll have an amazing time doing so, discovering some fantastic new music in the process.

Discover Your Own Unique Music Tastes

I have my own unique flare and music tastes that I am overwhelmingly fond of, and I have these musicians and lovely venues to thank for it. Smaller venues have allowed my love for music to truly flourish. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Music will allow you to find yourself, if you give it the chance. By supporting independent music venues you are enabling this opportunity.

A photo of me

The Community Spirit

The last and most crucial element in why I love small venues so much, is the wonderful sense of community they bring with them. This leads me on to the next part of my series ‘Independent Music Venues and the Community Spirit Behind Them’ which I will be sharing with you in a couple of days time.