If you followed this link, it’s highly likely that you attended a festival this year and aren’t they great? Did you have a good time? The music, the atmosphere, letting it all go for the weekend its such a buzz isn’t it? It’s probably highly likely that you also discovered a few bands you’d never heard of before as well, which again is also great.
What never fails to shock me though is that people will spend a whole weekend at festivals with some travelling miles and booking time off work but yet don’t support the music scene thats happening up and down the country in the small venues and clubs in their own towns every single weekend. For between £4 -£10 you can catch 3 or 4 brilliant bands and relive that same excitement every single Friday and Saturday.
A study in 2017 found that festival attendance reached 30.9 million people in 2016, which is brilliant and good news for our economy but what about the most vital part of the live music industry, the smaller venues who put on live music week in week out and who are struggling to survive?
I attended Tramlines this year amongst many other major festivals, what I loved most about Tramlines this year was the fact that even though they had moved the intercity festival out of town and up to Hillsborough (which I must add is fantastic), the free Fringe festival was bursting at the seams, screaming out to me that people enjoy unsigned music just as much as they love the mainstream. The quality and energy of the bands on the fringe was phenomenal, as it is every year. The crazy thing is probably over 50% of these bands have played Sheffield before, if not once but a few times to a fraction of those crowds.
So just why are promoters and small venues struggling every weekend to draw these very people in? With closures of small venues rife, thanks to the pressures of gentrification, the musical nightlife is constantly under threat and it’s the same story up and down the country.
Where do you think our famous, much loved artists that we watch at these major events began their careers?
In the small, intimate venues thats where. Local communities need to step up and support fresh talent and develop an ethos to help our new artists who are cutting their teeth, grow.
It’s the old adage of ‘A dog is for life isn’t just for Christmas’ and after yet another year of successful festivals people should consider actually making a conscious effort to support new music all the time. A quick google search of music venues in your area will bring up a whole host of gigs that showcase new music.
The grassroots scene is the platform for tomorrow’s festival headliners, lose them, lose the future.
Definitely, something to think about.
The grassroots music sector and its importance gets a lot of press but little attention is given to actual people who bust their guts week in week out to keep these venues and bands going for very little or in most cases no financial gain. So while I am here I want to give all my fellow promoters, bands, door staff, magazines, photographers, artist liaisons and anyone else who is putting time and effort into keeping the unsigned music scene alive for very little, a massive pat for all their hard work and say thank you for a phenomenal summer and year so far. I appreciate every single one of you.