Whether we acknowledge it or not, our local music scene has become half of what it used to be. Local music venues across the UK are closing down more and more, due to increased cost to sustain (from wages, rent, and the lack of money from fans), and noise complaints from residents in smaller towns. The lack of customers visiting and supporting our music scene has began to hit an all time low, with many young people choosing only to support the bigger, more popular artists instead of finding those still growing.
My first experience at a local venue was Bedford’s ‘Esquires’, a small venue known by many as an important part of Bedfordshire. Watching my friend, Alfie Templeman, play multiple shows here over the last few years has taught me how few people support upcoming artists nowadays. The crowd always remained friends and family, as well as the odd few adults having a night out, but lacking many of the younger generation supporting the music scene. Without these venues, many musicians would lack a place to perform and grow on stage, however it remains disheartening to see how many do not support their local music venues and artists.
35% of London’s live music venues have now closed since 2007, but the affect has been widespread across the UK. For example, Bristol’s ‘The Fleece’ has struggled after raising rates in 2018, and local residents began complaining about noise. Another common theme across the difficulties in small music venues remains the aspect of making little money from ticket sales. Promoters and bands receiving larger amounts of profits than venues causes a lack of money to sustain the venue, and therefore if people don’t purchase food or drink in venues, it can also cause our local music scene to slowly die out.
While this remains a tragic thought for many, we must be aware that with our support and money, we can bring change. These venues can prosper with the addition of more locals supporting their music scene, and what is there to lose? We could all find a local star, and watch their career blossom knowing you were one of the first to visit their shows. Our favourite bands came from the same places, performing to people who had never heard of their names, and it’s important to give back to those who are still finding their way.
Words & Pictures by Tatiana Whybrow