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Independent Venue Week: Is IV24 An Exercise of Futility?

Independent Venue Week

Following the announcement from Music Venues Trust (MVT) which disparagingly revealed that 2023 was the worst year for UK venue closures after 125 venues showcased their last performance, 4,000 jobs were lost, and 14,500 events were cancelled, there is growing speculation over whether Independent Venue Week (IVW) can make a modicum of difference to the 80 music venues which are currently in crisis. This crisis is exacerbated by the cost of living, high rent rates, and increased utility costs. The Trust’s CEO, Mark Davyd, has called for “radical intervention” from the government, the music industry, artists, and fans to prevent further closures.

Is IVW24 An Exercise in Virtue-Swathed Futility?

IVW24 is set to take place from the 29th of January to the 4th of February. Once again, it is being marked as a seven-day celebration of music venues up and down the UK and the people who tirelessly attempt to keep them afloat.

But is it really anything more than attaching the IVW logo to gig posters for events scheduled to take place in the IVW timeframe? Is it enough to convince music fans to come out in droves to see up-and-coming and established bands? I, for one, am struggling to see the impact that Independent Venue Week will have on ticket sales. Even though I would love to see the initiative have a profound effect and give venue owners a reprieve from their financial anxiety, optimism is in short supply in the wake of the 193,230 opportunities that were lost for musicians through the closure of venues in 2023.

Sure, IVW has developed a line of merchandise. Even though there is absolutely no indication that purchasing one of the t-shirts will contribute to the rising costs of keeping the lights on and the PAs plugged in at music venues. And Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq will be taking their BBC 6 Shows on the road, but it feels as though the music industry is going to need to put a far juicier carrot on the end of the stick to amp up the enthusiasm to purchase gig tickets. Stephens and Lamacq’s tour is a step towards raising awareness and support for these venues, but it underscores the need for more substantial and sustained efforts to safeguard the future of the UK’s music ecosystem.

“IVW is nothing more than an opportunity to promote big acts, not independent music. As a volunteer at an IVW event, I was treated poorly, working tirelessly without even so much as a bottle of water in return, meanwhile the venue staff didn’t get paid for the extra hours put in – so much for celebrating them. Every year it gets more contrived.”anonymous

With music fans more mindful of their budget than ever before given that there is no end to the cost-of-living crisis in sight, it is somewhat naïve to expect this event can even make a dent in the financial strain felt by independent music venues.

What is Independent Venue Week?

Independent Music Venue Week is a celebration of the spirit and uniqueness of independent music venues. It’s akin to a week-long festival, but instead of being confined to one location, it sprawls across the UK’s independent music venues, showcasing their importance and the diverse talent they support.

Origins and Evolution:

Inception (2014): IVW was launched in 2014. The idea was to shine a spotlight on the heroes who own and run these venues. It’s a nod to the places that often serve as the nurturing grounds for musicians, offering them their first stages and helping to shape their careers.

Growth and Development: Over the years, IVW has grown significantly. From a handful of venues in its early days, it has expanded to include hundreds of venues across the UK. Each year, the event sees a series of gigs and talks taking place over a week, usually at the end of January or the beginning of February. This timing is strategic, as it falls at a quieter time of the year for these venues, giving them a much-needed boost.

Impact of COVID-19: The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the live music scene. IVW adapted by incorporating virtual events and fundraising efforts to support struggling venues. This period highlighted the fragility of independent venues and galvanized public and industry support for them.

Key Figures and Involvement:

Sybil Bell: The founder of IVW, Sybil Bell, has been a crucial figure in the initiative. Her vision and dedication have been instrumental in driving the event forward and raising awareness about the importance of independent venues.

Artists and Bands: Each year, a mix of well-known and emerging artists participate in IVW. These artists often have a personal connection to these venues, having started their careers on similar stages. Their involvement brings attention and crowds, vital for the venues’ survival.

Partnerships and Support: IVW has garnered support from various organizations, including Arts Council England. Partnerships with music industry bodies, media, and sponsors have helped in amplifying its impact.

Government Recognition: The initiative has also previously received acknowledgement from the UK government, highlighting its cultural significance and the need for supporting grassroots music venues.

In Conclusion

To truly make a difference, IVW and similar initiatives must go beyond annual celebrations and become part of a larger, concerted effort to address the financial and structural challenges facing independent music venues. This could include advocating for policy changes, creating sustainable funding models, and fostering a culture of continuous support from the music community and the public. Only through such comprehensive and ongoing efforts can the decline of these cultural hubs be halted and reversed.

For more music news, keep following our blog, which has recently been voted by Vuelio as one of the top 10 UK music blogs in 2024. We always have room to feature new music from up-and-coming artists and help them cut through the oversaturated static. Submit new music today.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Patreon Has Finally Added Free Fan Membership Tiers

Even though Patreon has been gaining popularity as a platform, many independent artists still feel uncomfortable with setting up a profile and tapping their fans for cash in exchange for exclusive content.

We get it. It is an uncomfortable position to put yourself in, especially if your social media posts announcing your profile result in tumbleweed and you are conscious of the economic times we are all trying to navigate. Knowing disposable income is dissolving, Patreon has moved with the times and finally added free fan membership tiers. But that isn’t the only innovation from the platform, which can now facilitate Direct-to-Fan digital sales; in a similar way to Bandcamp.

While Bandcamp probably isn’t quaking in its metaphorical boots quite yet after the change was announced on the 21st of June, it is a major milestone for the subscription-based platform. Going forward, the platform will enable creators, including musicians, to hawk their digital wares to fans on the platform. In a press release, a spokesperson for Patreon dubbed the new changes as a mark of a new era of creative control.

Obviously, the platform will make its own gains from becoming a new form of e-commerce platform; however, they chose to market it as a new way for their creators to strengthen their relationships with their communities and build sustainable businesses.

Patreon is quickly becoming the antithesis of platforms such as TikTok, which makes it easy to become a viral sensation overnight and impossible to create long-lasting and meaningful connections with their communities.

How Do Patreon’s Free Membership Tiers Work?

The new membership tiers are free-to-use for fans and creators alike; the platform created the tiers to build a ‘freemium gateway’, for new artists and creators to bolster their fanbase on the site.

Creators already established on the platform will also benefit, as they can add more casual fans and diehard fans who don’t have the cash to burn on memberships to their community.

There are two main benefits for artists and creators:

  1. Once fans are on the platform, they will get a feel of it and potentially be more likely to pay for a paid membership to their favourite artists’ exclusive content.
  2. Artists can send updates to their community through the Patreon mobile app and via the web without needing to pay for sponsored posts or having to negate algorithms that will diminish the reach of posts.

How to Sell Digital Products via Patreon

Getting your music and other digital products in as many places as possible is important for independent artists looking to expand their reach by casting their nets as wide as possible.

Now, along with ensuring that your music is on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Tidal and Apple Music, you will also want to publish it on Patreon.

As of June 2023, musicians can sell the usual digital wares, such as songs, albums, and EPs, via the platform and any other form of digital content, including artwork, music videos, live performances and podcast episodes. The site now facilitates global payment processing, which will make downloadable files accessible to the general public and fans with memberships alike.

To sell your music or other downloadables via Patreon, create a product page and set a price for your content. Once your browsable shop is open for trade, you can publicly share the shop on social media platforms, your official website and other streaming services which make it harder to see any revenue from your audience’s interest in your music – we’re obviously talking about Spotify here!

For commerce sales, Patreon will keep a 5% percentage of all sales, plus fees for payment processing, applicable taxes, currency conversion and payouts. For paid membership fees, the percentage is slightly higher at 8%.

You can read the full update on the Patreon website here.

How Popular is Patreon in 2023?

In the last decade since Patreon’s inception in 2013, the platform has become one of the most successful ones of its kind. As of February 2023, Patreon:

  • Has over 8 million active Patrons.
  • Allows its creators to collectively make over $100 million each month.
  • Has over 250,00 active creators, with over 220,00 having at least one patron.
  • Has paid $3.5 billion to its creators.

A few months ago, we wondered what has the potential to replace Spotify and considered Patetron as an option. With these two new major shakeups, the platform has become a frontrunner in the race, at least for artists and creators with hardcore fanbases willing to part with cash to support them. It may not be able to boast the same seamless and effortless streaming capacity yet, but who knows what the future holds for the platform.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Four UK Government Shakeups Independent Artists Should Note (Surprisingly, They’re All Positive)

Government Shakeups

It will take a lot for the sitting government to improve their reputation in the run-up to the next general election. Nevertheless, in the past two weeks, there have been four major government shakeups that independent artists should note and celebrate. Make that five if you want to celebrate the victory of Boris Johnson’s resignation and the subsequent resignation of his #1 simp, Nadine Dorries.

There may still be a lot to lament in the current economic and cultural climate and while the points outlined below certainly don’t absolve recent political sins or will be of any immediate comfort to those hit hardest by the recession, they do prove there is light at the end of the tunnel and optimism for a fairer future for artists and creators isn’t futile.

Four UK Government Shakeups Independent Artists Should Note

  1. The UK Government Announced £77 Million of New Funding for the Creative Sector

On the 13th of June, a press release was circulated into the public domain to share the ambitious plans of growing the UK economy by boosting creative industries and building a pipeline of talent and skills. After setting aside £77 million in new funding, the government is aiming to create 1 million more creative jobs by 2030; in just seven years, the creative sector is expected to be worth £50 billion in the UK.

Rishi Sunak somehow found the time to stop appeasing the Little Englander racists with his incessantly dehumanising ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric to identify bolstering the creative industries as one of his top priorities. Whether he stays true to that intent and pledge is another thing entirely, but at least it makes a refreshing change from him donating $3 million to a US college to build a computer lab.

The additional £50 million is expected to be poured into ‘regional creative clusters’, and there will be extra funding for music venues and allowing the next generation of new music talent. Video game studios and London Fashion Week are also expecting a sizeable cash injection in the coming years.

Read the full report, including statements from Rishi Sunak, the Culture Secretary, Lucy Frazer, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, here.

  1. The UK Government Increased Funding for the Music Exports Growth Scheme

In more positive funding news, the Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS) funding will increase over the next two years to £3.2 million. Thanks to this funding, British artists attempting to build an audience overseas will gain additional support.

While it would probably be more beneficial to cut the red tape that is restricting UK artists from touring, working, and shipping their records and merch throughout Europe, it is a welcome move, especially for the record label body, British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which has been crying out for more funding in the past few years after the financial struggle brought on by the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.

The interim CEO of MEGS was delighted with the UK Government’s recognition of the excellent ROI that MEGS offers and believes that the funds will efficaciously go towards supporting independent artists.

  1. The Universal Basic Income Trials Are Underway

If you read Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman, you will know how promising the trials of Universal Basic Income (UBI) are in the UK. The trials may be small, with a modest number of 30 participants, but if successful, they could shape the landscape of the creative industry in the years to come.

All participants in the trial will receive a ‘basic’ income of £1,600 a month for the next two years. The trial will monitor if a UBI scheme could simplify the welfare system, reduce poverty, boost overall well-being and provide security in the labour market.

This new Government Shakeup may not directly impact musicians in the imminent future, but now that it is harder than ever to create a comfortable income via music and AI is arriving to add even more uncertainty to the creative industries, the potential changes in the labour market could be exponential.

Artists and creators would be given the freedom to make moves in their music careers without worrying about how they will correlate with commercial potential and profit. It could amplify the importance of the catharsis and satisfaction within the creative process while the pressure is taken off trying to capitalise on creativity.

Of course, ego-driven artists would still like to count their worth in the £s they have brought in via their music, and there will always be those who want to keep music as an elite club while the working class breaks their backs doing menial work and has no extra capacity for creativity, but fuck those guys.

  1. MPs are Advocating for Fairer Streaming Royalties for Artists and Songwriters

Earlier this month, it was announced that the UK Government, along with music industry experts, will be launching a plan to investigate fair pay for musicians. The imitative was spurred by the recommendations from the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee after hearing the frustrations of musicians.

The working group will look into how musicians and songwriters are unfairly paid by the streaming giants, Tidal, Apple Music and Spotify. The chair of the CMS committee, Dame Caroline Dineange MP, believes that there is extensive work to be done to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for playing a central role in the success of the streaming industry.

Although, independent artists won’t want to hold their breath on this government shakeup either, in 2021, a UK parliamentary inquiry decreed that the royalty system needs a complete reset. Notably, they are yet to find the reset button!

Article by Amelia Vandergast

The Impossibility of Legacy in the 21st-Century Music Industry


When history leaves no room for modernity; when nostalgia is a greater incentive to engage with ‘culture’ than contemporary innovation; when legacy pedestals went out of production in the 90s, what hope is left in the music industry?

The post-pandemic era of music is becoming increasingly alien to what we have known before. It is not technology adding tentacle-ESQUE appendages to the industry. For the past 50 years, the rapid rate of technological progress has been integral to the way music has embedded into our daily lives. Industry oligarchs relentlessly pushed for progression to increase profit margins with every artist gambled on. Now that digital streaming services have reached the pinnacle of music consumption convenience, there is little to anticipate. Sans Musk embedding Neuralink chips in our skulls, and we can stream music directly into our brains.

We can point the finger at the culture of streaming platforms until Rigor mortis sets in, ignoring the three fingers pointing back at ourselves with our strange transfixion on the past that dictates modern-day legacies do not last.

The unattainability of legacy especially rings true within the confines of indie, rock, and alternative music. The alluring sentimentality of nostalgia and reminiscence is the real reason why fame is fleeting; success is slender in supply and why music fans are now eulogising their only music icons on Facebook every five minutes.

Even if an independent artist hits number one in the official music charts in 2023, it means almost nothing in terms of standing in the industry. It is only a matter of time before they downrank under the perpetual dominance of Nirvana, Nickelback, and Pink Floyd.

To go full circle on how streaming has affected the music industry, the contemporary irrelevance of official music charts has even started to change how albums hit the market. Why bow to the pressure of raw sales when streaming is king? And in the words of Post Malone, why compromise the artistic and authentic integrity of a record to ensure an arbitrary number that is no longer of any consequence is reached?

The Fame-Talent Dichotomy

As someone who has spent the past six years in the music industry listening to new artists, I find it impossible to subscribe to the theory that the fixtures in the rock n roll hall of fame are portraits that contemporary artists cannot hold a candle to.

The painful awareness of the off-kilter correspondence between fame and talent is something the average music consumer will never see. If they did, they would be infinitely more open to the suggestion that living and breathing artists who aren’t inches from being six feet under are as capable of ground-breaking music as the artists made divine in their blind eyes.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing, people playing musical instruments and indoor

The addiction to the bittersweetness of sonic nostalgia is undoubtedly a stark sign of where our collective psyche stands at this strangely sour point in history. Yet, if we continuously ignore the irony between the statements that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” and the complete unwillingness to listen to what they ARE making, we are setting a generation of artists up to fail. Not that it is surprising people of a certain age are somewhat ambivalent about that. Given what they have done to the rest of society and the economy.

While there are sniffings of viral TikTok fame for some contemporary artists, one-hit-wonders can only get with their passive fans in their unsustainable careers. As a new generation comes of age, they are shown that history is required for legacy – unless you’re lucky enough to get the jump up from nepotism or selected as a media plant.

Music as a Mausoleum: A Tale of Two Cities

As a Manchester-based music journalist, I’m no stranger to music cultures led by ancient tastemakers and epitomised by records that have been collecting dust since the 80s. I’ve long since accepted that my words, no matter how sharp, will never be as cutting as the people twice my age who can say they were in all of the right places long before I was cerebral enough to string a sentence together. But this isn’t about me. It is about the absolute exception to George Santayana’s rule of; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Making my first trip to one of Liverpool’s most iconic music venues, The Cavern Club, showed me just how insidious the fetishization and fixation of legacy truly is. Tawdry statues of the Beatles scaled the walls with endless ephemera as a reminder that they were once here. Like graffiti on a dirty public toilet door, they were stamped in history. Tacky memorabillia enshrined behind glass tempted tanked-up tourists to grab a kitsch piece of history and ignore the glaring commodification of culture that reminds every artist that steps foot into that venue that their legacy will always be less-than.

The Beatles Image In A Wall In The Cavern Club, Liverpool, UK Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 81903358.

While there should always be room to rhapsodize artists that were integral to the inspiration of many, became the soundtrack to many lives and earned themselves a place in history, there should still be enough room for fresh talent to breathe.

Yet, there is little oxygen left for new and emerging artists to share. Creative sparks diminish as soon as they are lit in our suffocating atmosphere where cover bands get all the cash and artists with any modicum of distinction about them are chastised for sticking out from the mould.

Mindless connections with music and music culture are infinitely more dangerous than the perils of Spotify and Ek’s ilk. You can’t keep your head in the sentimental sand for decades, pop back up for daylight and bemoan the changing technological tides that have removed gatekeepers for many, and provided the platforms for even more.

Article by Amelia Vandergast