UK charity the Music Venue Trust recently shared its annual report which described 2023 as “The most challenging year for the Grassroots Music Venue (GMV) sector since Music Venue Trust (MVT) was founded in 2014.” In this article, we explore the state of the grassroots music scene and pick three ‘must-see’ gigs in London in collaboration with live music experts Skiddle.
Grassroots Music Venues – Five Key Stats from 2023
- There are currently 835 GMVs in the UK
- Which attracted 23,657,220 audience visits in 2023
- There were 187,040 events
- 1,683,360 individual artist performances
- GMVs employ 28,223 people
The number of Grassroots Music Venues has decreased by 13% in one year (960 in 2022 to 835 in 2023). Of these losses, 51.4% were found to have fully closed as trading businesses and 48.6% had ceased hosting live music.
When you realise 81% of GMVs operate in rented premises and the average rent paid by these venues experienced a yearly increase of 37.5% it’s easy to see why venues are struggling to stay afloat.
But there are some positives. There was a slight increase (+1%) in capacity utilisation and the average number of events put on by the GMVs was 22% higher than in 2022. These contrasting statistics suggest that public demand was likely not a factor in the loss of the 125 trading GMVs. Overall demand for live music has remained broadly consistent and is being met by the remaining GMVs increasing their supply.
Get out there and support live music
It’s clear grassroots venues and emerging artists need your support more than ever, so we’re collaborating with live music experts Skiddle to showcase some of the best gigs you could attend in London in the coming weeks.
Congratulations on surviving January, surely the longest month in history. Payday is finally here and that Dry January effort really should be rewarded with a proper night out.
Here are our three picks from the Skiddle What’s on guide.
1. The Vintage Explosion – 7th March (Union Chapel, London)
If you love vintage soul, then you need to know The Vintage Explosion. Sir Rod Stewart recently described lead singer William Hitchell as the best white soul singer I’ve heard.
In the past 12 months, The Vintage Explosion have had three No.1 albums on the Worldwide iTunes Blues Album Chart, No.3 on the Worldwide iTunes Album Chart as well as top ten on the US Billboard Blues Album Chart. Sold Out a 14-date UK Tour, were specially invited to perform at the BBC Big Birthday Bash on TV as the house band and made their live debut on national TV on This Morning on ITV.
Catch them live at the stunning Union Chapel before they take over the world and tell your friends you heard them first.
2. High Fade – 10th Feb (Oslo, London)
Try listening to High Fade and sitting still, trust me it won’t happen. Scotland’s freshest funk band are on their debut UK headline tour and you owe it to yourself to be in the front row. The energy levels here are irresistible, this promises to be the night out of the year so far.
3. This Feeling – 9th Feb (The Macbeth, London)
This Feeling knows a thing or two about discovering live talent. What started life as a monthly club night in London 15 years ago and has organically become the UK’s number one promoter of emerging acts. Tour alumni include Catfish and the Bottlemen, Blossoms and The Struts to name just three.
This four-band line-up consists of CUSP, Superdays, Five Lines and Magnolias. Who all deserve your ears!
If you love the boys in the band, this is your perfect night out. Indie is alive and well. Check out the four bands in advance.
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Words Mark Knight