Browsing Tag

Live Music in 2022

What Can Save the UK Music Industry?

How Can the Music Industry Be Saved

With issues continuing to amass in the music industry, more people are starting to despairingly speculate on what can save it. Earlier this year some people banked on the ham-fisted benevolence of Elon Musk saving the day, while others pinned their hopes on opportunities opened up by the metaverse and music NFTs.

Realistically, there is never going to be a catch-all solution that gently cradles all musicians from the cut-throat nature of the industry and uplifts it from the increasing economic strains. Nor will there be a return to how things used to be – no matter how longingly we long for it. Instead, the individual issues within the music industry need to be addressed before there can be a discussion of how it can bolster some resilience in an era where even the most robust markets are feeling the increased pressure of the cost-of-living crisis.

The Three Biggest Challenges That Need to Be Overcome in the Music Industry

The Lack of Government Support

In 2022, the UK music industry is now one-third smaller than in 2019 due to the hat-trick devastation caused by inflation, Brexit, and the pandemic. The calls for government support are getting louder and louder in an attempt to quash the blow of the rising costs of touring and keeping the lights on in venues.

Manchester’s Dave Haslam was one of the many voices calling for support in a recently published article in the Guardian, which followed the trajectory of the decline of the music industry through the years and called for government intervention. The government support would ideally involve a freeze on alcohol duty, reductions in VAT, and relief on business rates, to prevent the closure of even more clubs and venues across the UK. Removing the red tape imposed by Brexit to help touring musicians is also a prominent request in calls for governmental intervention.

Keeping the pressure on politicians, especially the newly appointed Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan, by reminding them of the value of the multi-billion-pound industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of people, is more important than ever. With Rishi Sunak at the top, it’s easy to give into apathy, given his recent declaration that “the state can’t fix all your problems”. If you care about the future of the music industry, fight for it, don’t just hope that someone will do it on your behalf!

The Economic and Ecological Cost of Touring

National and international tours are how many artists attempt to make their music careers economically viable now that streaming services such as Spotify are reigning over CD and vinyl sales. But with the increasing awareness of the carbon footprint of touring confounding the economic unviability due to the inflated prices of fuel and just about everything else, how long can the massive shows go on?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to contemplate the ecological impact of artists heading out on tour and living their dreams of finding themselves in a new city every night and playing to a sell-out crowd. Unfortunately, the planet is hotting up; the music industry can’t put their heads in the scorched sand any longer and pretend it is not contributing to the massive existential problem.

A study published in 2010 reported that the live music industry annually generated 405,000 metric tonnes of emissions in the UK alone. That is enough energy to power 46,000 homes. While there is no shortage of greenwashing festivals with their token efforts, such as banning plastic cups, it isn’t going to cut the mustard if we are going to achieve net zero by 2050.

Whether you like it or not, the reality of touring is being reshaped by climate change. But that doesn’t mean that live music needs to be wiped from existence. It does mean that we need to consider the ramifications of the environmental impacts and start to place more value on smaller-scale local and regional performances. If communal music traditions met artistic needs for millennia, why should they be discarded now? Local and grassroots music is the overlooked, slightly less glamorous backbone of the music industry. If neglected for long enough, everything else will crumble.

Unfair Royalty Cuts from Streaming Platforms

There are a lot of popular misconceptions around streaming platform royalties, namely that services such as Spotify pay their pitiful revenues to the artists directly. Before royalties reach artists’ and songwriters’ bank accounts, they go through distro companies, record labels and copyright management companies, who take a sizeable chunk for themselves.

Spotify takes a 25% cut of the revenue, the recording owners take 59.9%, and the songwriters and publishers share a 15.1% cut. While it is easy to paint Spotify as the devil incarnate, the real issue is the complexity of copyright law which commodifies music and exploits artists in the process. For the same reason it took The Rolling Stones until the 70s to make any real cash, the struggle is the same for any contemporary artist signed to a record label that was drafted to bleed them dry.

The decline of the major record labels as artists are seeing the light and opting for an independent music career is a step in the right direction but it is easier said than done for independent artists to succeed. Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper proved it is possible to be successful and independent, but that doesn’t mean it is viable for all artists. Especially given that thousands of new tracks launch on Spotify every day, and almost 80% of artists on Spotify have a monthly listener count that is less than 50.

So, to answer the question of how can the music industry can be saved in short, the answer is recognising that the current framework of the industry needs a drastic overhaul. From tearing up the copyright laws which exploit artists instead of protecting them to recognising why the live music industry is really up against the wall to accepting the over-saturated unsustainability of the industry. Something has to give before the music industry goes further than a 1/3rd slump in market value.


Article by Amelia Vandergast

How to Promote a Concert in a Fragile Live Music Industry

Gig Promotion

Whether you have been asked by a promoter to sell tickets to an upcoming show or you have put on your own gig, there are a few golden rules on how to promote a concert you should follow to boost your attendance, and hopefully avoid every artist’s fear – playing to an empty room.

While it is true that artists are currently struggling to sell out their tour dates with 2022’s Mercury Prize winner, Little Simz forced to pull their tour due to financial constraints along with Animal Collective also struggling to budget for their tour, this isn’t a sign that you should give up the ghost just yet.

Before you put your blood, sweat, tears and own funds into playing live, make sure you are playing smart. A common mistake new independent artists make when they don’t have a band manager to push them in the right direction is playing too often in their hometown.

Times are tough, and even if you have a loyal fanbase that will do their best to support you, if you’re playing every month in your hometown, don’t expect to magically find new fans that will come out in support of you. Or that your most loyal fans will shlep from their busy lives time after time when they know that they will probably see the same show they’ve already paid their good money for.

Circle-jerk gigs are killing live music scenes up and down the country – don’t be a part of the problem! With that warning out the way, we will move on to how to effectively pull a crowd to your live dates to make sure that the attendees aren’t solely the support acts and people working at the venue.

8 Ways to Promote a Concert

1.       Circulate Videos of Your Past Live Performances

We have all been to gigs after falling in love with a band’s records, only to be sorely disappointed by what the live show entails. If you thrive in the domain of live music, make it known to your fans by creating promo videos for your live dates using footage of your past shows that can be posted across your social media channels. Additionally, share any good quality fan-made videos from your last gigs and post live content to YouTube and other streaming platforms.

2.       Reach Out to People Individually or Offer a Cheap List to Friends

Many independent artists boost their attending lists by offering access to a cheap list for their friends, family, and industry figures, such as journalists, photographers, and A&R reps. That personal touch can be what it takes to convert someone considering attending the show into a ticket holder. Go carefully with this approach; don’t hound people into paying for a ticket! Always use discretion.

3.       Utilise Gig Listing Platforms and Publications

Many local newspapers and online music publications run features every month to let readers know what is happening in their city. Rather than sitting and hoping that your gig will be picked up by the editorial team, be proactive in your gig promotion efforts to make sure that your upcoming shows have the best chance of being noticed. Using Manchester as an example, The Skinny, All Gigs, Visit Manchester, and Manchester Gigs all promote upcoming live events, along with other national sites, such as Skiddle and Song Kick.

4.       Choose a Crowd-Pulling Support Act

If you have free reign over who opens for you, decide wisely. Book a local opening act that has a proven fanbase and is willing to put the effort into pulling a good crowd. Rather than just roping in your friend’s bands in an act of nepotism, consider if your fans would want to watch this band too. After all, gig-goers are far more likely to stump up the cash for gig tickets if they think they will enjoy the entire evening, not just an hour’s worth of entertainment they will have to go out of their way for.

5.       Plaster Your Gig Dates Everywhere

If you have Spotify for Artists, you can easily upload your tour dates to the platform, so the next time someone flicks through your discography, they will see all of your upcoming tour dates. As Spotify is one of the main ways music fans discover music, it makes sense to use Spotify as free advertising for your upcoming gigs. Similarly, if you have an official artist website, which every artist definitely should, all of your upcoming (and past) gigs should be listed here too.

6.       Create an Event Page on Facebook

Even though you may not be able to trust who is coming to gigs via the attending and interested lists on your Facebook event pages, Facebook events are one of the best ways to circulate news of new gigs. Be sure to keep the page updated with the necessary information, such as who is opening the show and the set times. Many disagree that set times should be published as this discourages gig goers from watching all of the bands, but by publishing set times, you’re more likely to boost attendance by letting fans know how to arrange their travel plans.

7.       Get to Grips with Digital Advertising

If your budget allows it, promote your gigs and tours via Facebook, Instagram and Google adverts – just be sure to set the appropriate parameters. For an efficacious digital advertising campaign via sponsored ads, ensure that you are only targeting the right geographical audience and people who have seen your posts before. For bands who can’t afford paid ads or are reluctant to use them, email marketing and using local hashtags can also increase the number of ticket-holding gig goers.

8.       Don’t Rule Out Conventional Means of Advertising

Social media may dominate a worrying proportion of our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean that gig promotion solely has to happen across digital platforms. Team up with talented graphic designers to create an eye-catching gig poster that can be used online and printed and plastered across the town or city you’re playing in. Ask local businesses, such as bars and shops if they would mind putting your tour poster in their window – the worst that could happen is that they say no.

Article by Amelia Vandergast