Death of the London Music Scene: Part 1

Madame Jojos

Original article by Jimmy Mulvihill, founder of Bally Rehearsal Studios in Tottenham Hale reposted by our very own Massimo Zeppetelli

Usually we use our Facebook page to spread funny pictures or to draw people’s attention to local matters, but today we wanted to make a much more serious point that we think is very important – that based on the feedback that we hear from well over 50-80 bands, other studios, promoters and a lot of other people we come into contact with, as well as our own personal experiences, the London music scene is well on the way to dying a slow death – London is fast becoming an awful place to be in a band.

We, the team at Bally rehearsal studios in Tottenham, make our living from the music industry, and before working here we were in bands, sessions musicians, live promoters and studio engineers, so for us music is not only a passion but also a way for us to put a roof over our heads.  We have 5 studios, and 99% of the sessions that we have are between the hours of 11am – 11pm.  That’s 84 hours a week to cram in as many sessions as we can to meet the various costs that we have.  Back in 2005 our costs were £1,700 a month, and today they are £3,200 a month, yet in the same time the disposable income of the bands that use us has risen by a fraction of the amount.   While the amount of studios we have have grown and our customer base has expanded, the task of meeting bills and paying rent has grown more difficult as time goes on, and it would be a lie to say that there are not many times that such concerns worry us.  There have also been many times that we have felt like writing a blog post on  this matter, yet with the time constraints of “London living” we never really found the time to do so.

Over the Christmas period, with extra time on our hands, we finally had the chance to catch our breath, and in doing so we gained a fresh perspective on things when we noticed a lot of press attention about different parts of the music industry that suggest there is an incredible disconnect between the people who are actually within the grass roots of the industry,  and the public and media’s perception of it.  We also think that such a disconnect could have a massive impact on the music industry in the future, and so we wanted to offer our perspective. As it is a matter close to our hearts, we have gone into a lot more detail than usual and split them over into 2 blog posts, each of them about 8 minutes of reading, to let the bands that come to our studios, and the ones that don’t, about our experience of working in the London music industry. If anyone has any thoughts, please comment below :-)

So here we go…!

THE DEATH OF THE LONDON MUSIC SCENE: PART 1

The music industry is one of the most competitive industries imaginable, and London is its epicentre. For hundreds of years many acts from all over the world have traveled here to use the capital as a launchpad for their careers, and there are also numerous bands fortunate enough to have been brought up here.  Like a goldfish that grows to its bowl, their ambitions grow to the size of their potential market, and considering their market is more than 10 million people, this means that we deal with a lot of bands who have grand ambitions and a focus to match, and this genuinely makes working in a rehearsal studios one of the more enjoyable jobs that we could imagine.

1Yet progress is not always easy, and the vast majority of bands that come to rehearse will talk to us about how the band is progressing for them.  We are also thankful that many bands feel that they can be honest with us, with many of these conversations being focused on the immense challenges that they face as a band –  like how they only managed to pull 18 or 19 people to their last gig, just under the amount needed to get paid, but how they are hopeful that their next gig will be more successful, or how the promoter of the show had failed to even try to match bands with their stylistic counterparts.  We see bands working hard getting flyers printed, with money being saved for new recordings, new songs being worked on, and demos being placed on the desk for other bands to take, and this entire process is based around one simple idea –  progress: writing songs that are better, getting more people to come to concerts, getting better recordings made,  getting more press coverage, etc.

Although the bands work hard and there is a genuine abundance of talent amongst them, it would be a lie to say that the rewards that the average band gets for their efforts is anywhere near what they hoped, or that is it even approaching what they deserve. In the majority of cases their progress is stunted and they fall short of their potential due to factors other than their musical ability or dedication to their craft. Based on what we see, the biggest stumbling block bands have is not based around their talent, work ethic or focus to their music.  Instead, it is everything else apart from the actual music that they find the most challenging – things like getting people to come to their gigs, getting radio play, making enough money from gigs to cover their costs, and finding the time in their busy schedule to rehearse. There are some bands that have come to us that have gone on to be very successful, while other bands that were equally as talented never made the same progress as they were simply unable to get the same breaks .  When people hear their music the reaction is positive, it just so happens that not enough people hear it in the first place.

3

Amongst all of this hard work and struggle there is genuine hope and optimism, bursts of progress here and there and a mix of successful and not so successful gigs, but thankfully, in the case of the vast majority of bands, they also tell us how much joy being in a band brings them and how they are happy despite their lack of commercial success and critical acclaim. It’s great to hear from bands who have this attitude, not only because it shows that they are in a band for the right reasons, but also as it means that the entire fate of the band does not rely on factors that are out of their own control.  Yet it is still very frustrating to see so many bands not get the commercial success that they deserve, and the worst part of it is that in most cases it is down to reasons other than the quality of their music.

If a band made poor music and never became successful that would be fair, but when you see bands make great music yet end up being held back because they do not have enough money left over after paying for their rent, transport and bills to invest in the band, or how their fan-base cannot afford to come to gigs despite really wanting to as they have increased tuition fees, or they cannot afford the transport to the gig, it becomes incredibly depressing. Sadly the only conclusion that we can come to is that as London becomes more populated, more expensive and more gentrified, it is also slowly becoming an awful location for a band to be based in.

The end of Earl’s Court

2

Every now and then you also get glimpses of huge optimism of what London can offer bands who, until recently, were also just starting to make their way in the music scene.  During the Christmas period we read this article about Bombay Bicycle Club playing a sold out gig at Earl’s Court, with Dave Gilmour coming out on stage to play two songs with them, one of them being Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”   It’s something that most bands could only dream about, and it’s great to read these success stories to balance the stories of less successful gigs.  To see a band that first started rehearsing at Bally as teenagers, who were talented, hardworking, lovely people getting such success fills us with hope that other bands can also hope for the same, and that somehow all of the effort that bands put in will be rewarded.  One minute they were washing their own cups in our 99p plastic washing up bowel, the next minute they are playing to 10,000+ people.  It helps to encourage bands that such success is still possible, and that there is some kind of correlation in the efforts that bands put in, and the results that they get for this effort.

It would have been great if that is what the article had been about,  but sadly it was not a congratulatory pat on the back for them. Instead it was about how it was the last ever gig at Earls Court, a music venue that has stood since 1887 but is now being demolished to make way for a property development, with flats that will be sold from  £595,000 in the first phase.  It would seem that as housing is worth more than music venues, the music venues have to go, and it further brings home just what a challenge bands have, particularly in London.  Of course more housing is desperately needed here, but to lose so many historic music venues to do it shows what scant regard there is for the music scene in the capital.  The people who are making the decisions as to what direction London goes in seem to have given no concern at all to it’s musical heritage.  None at all. Bands are entering and investing lots of their own personal money into an industry that is deemed expendable and irrelevant by the powers that be, despite it bringing in £3.8 billion into the UK economy in 2013-2014 and being such an integral part of the UK’s culture and identity.

4

New bands based here have so many challenges: both the smaller and larger venues are being closed down, rehearsal studios are being bulldozed, noise regulation rules are cutting the opportunity to set up their own studios, while the rise in the cost of living makes it harder for them to find the time to create such great music, and harder still to sell it to their fan base who have less disposable income to spend.  Their fanbase are working longer hours and so have less chance to see bands live, and musicians can barely find the time to build up a buzz about their band.   The odds are stacked against them, and when you work in a rehearsal studios you get to see many more of those challenges when you chat to bands. We have seen numerous bands give up, loving the process of making and playing music but growing tired of having so many other challenges to overcome.  Speaking honestly, there are so many bands that we talk to that share in the same frustrations that it is clear to see that this train of thought is becoming more and more common.

What does the media and government have to say?

Madame Jojo's

Over the Christmas period the media was giving blanket coverage about how “only 8.4Million people watched the X-Factor final, the lowest ratings since 2004“. 10,000 people turned up to Wembley Arena to watch it live, and the media were calling it a “disappointing decline.”  All the while, the winner of the show was getting lots of publicity, and the lure of the show was growing.  The single released by the shows winner claimed the Christmas #1 slot, with earnings of £4Million in the first year being predicted, so it’s decline can’t have been that bad, yet still the media seemed to feel the need to draw all of our attention to it.  By contrast in the week before the X Factor final, the 12 Bar Club announced that they were closing. Another London venue lost, in a building that has been standing since 1635, in addition to (off the top of my head) The Bull & Gate, Infinity, Powers Bar, The Luminaire, The Walthamstow Standard, The Peel,  The Flowerpot, The Astoria, Madame Jojo’s, The Buffalo Bar, The Joiners Arms and numerous other venues have all closed down in London in recent years. The 100 Club nearly closed after “it’s rent increased from £11,000 to £166,000, in the 25 years since 1985,” but thankfully that was saved.  It was a rare source of optimism.

Instead of the media concentrating on the demise of the real music scene, an industry that has added a genuine wealth of cultural, economic and creative wealth to the country for over 60 years, as well as the challenges that many bands today encounter that puts the future of this industry at risk, they instead choose to focus on how a TV show has a small drop in viewing figures, forgetting to mention the £6Million in revenues that it generated from the advertising breaks in the final alone or the further millions that came in from the premium rate phone lines. The viewing figures were a few percent down, and (apparently) that’s a real shame. Meanwhile, a music venue that has stood for 380 years that will be demolished to make way for a more profitable and more generic business gets little attention, and the media couldn’t care less.  They couldn’t give less of a shit if they tried.

7

Within all of this there is an irony: the most successful star that the X-Factor has produced is Leona Lewis, and her most popular single was a cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run”, a band that spent 9 years on the underground circuit before their 3rd album propelled them to the mainstream. They were only able to build their success by coming up on the same circuit that is now being disassembled in the fight for quick profits, and they got little help from the media. When Lewis covered their song, the media gave her all of the attention she needed, despite the fact that she had been exposed to over 10 million a week, every week, for 3 months in a row, and had a fanbase in the millions.

The 1% of musicians get 99& of the coverage

All of the attention in the music industry seems to be going to the people who need it least, with none of it going to the grass roots and it is causing irreparable damage.  In 2008, the government declared that Glastonbury Festival had generated more than £73 Million for the UK economy, and since then both the attendance and the money spent at the festival has risen despite the economic challenges that the country has faced. The average small business in Glastonbury earned an extra £3,000 due to the festival, an incredible economic impact, but without the infrastructure needed to support such bands we will lose the next generation of great talent that could play at the festival that this country should be proud to be supporting, and with it the economic and cultural benefits that they bring with them. Again, the media and the government seems to not care.  Not one bit.

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2 years after £8.9 Billion was spent on the London Olympics “to create the sporting success that the UK can be proud of,” little concern seems to being shown to protecting the musical legacy of the UK. If there is one industry that the UK has consistently punched above it’s weight at in the last 60 years it is the music industry, and when you consider the size of the UK, with less than 1% of the world’s population, the fact that (according to the official charts) 6 of the biggest 14 biggest selling bands of all time come from the UK, more than any other country in the world, the UK should be doing what they can to preserve the tradition of such great success.  If only 0.1% of the amount of money spent on the 2012 Olympics could be spent on the grass-roots of the music industry, that would still be £8.9Million and the results could be incredible. Employment could be generated, exports of British products could rise, our culture could develop, VAT revenues could be increased, kids could be given a focus and great music could be created.

More than £1Trillion is made available to bail out the banks based on their integral place within the UK economy, with $850 Billion actually being spent, yet despite the music industry only needing infrastructural investments of a fraction of the amount, literally 0.0001% to 0.001% of that total,  it does not appear to be forthcoming. As a result the slide of the unsigned music industry in London continues, with venues and rehearsal studios being closed down to generate more short term profits, and more and more bands moving elsewhere to find more lucrative music scenes. It would cost too much to build around the Astoria, with it being cheaper to demolish it.  Flats above a music venue bring in more quick taxes in stamp duty,  so they are given preference.  Despite short-term thinking and the chase for quick profits over long term stability being behind the economic crash, this practice is being continued by a government that risks killing the careers of bands that could go on to sell 100 million records, with each record generating VAT revenues of £1.66, simply to generate more quick profits in the housing market.

Bands that come to us say that the promoters are demanding more and more tickets need to be sold to secure shows, and the promoters we talk to say this is due to their costs rising too, with some saying that they need to bring in over £400 in ticket sales to break even. As a result, it is getting harder and harder for new bands to make progress, and the London music scene is taking a hit because of it.  Promoters are unwilling to take a chance on a band that is less established which stops new acts coming through,  and the music industry starts to get stale from promoters concentrating on bands who have an established fan base, re-booking them again and again.  Whatever way you look at it that’s incredibly sad, and if the media had any kind of perspective on the matter, THIS would be a better place to focus their attentions on rather than X Factor.

 

Joiner051114

It is great to see this article about the closure of Earl’s Court, as it brings attention to an important matter – that London seems to see music based businesses and establishments as an unwanted inconvenience that need to be sidestepped instead of an integral part of the capital. It is just such a shame that attention needs to be brought to such a matter in the first place, and a shame that both the government and the music media seem to care so little about it happening to even address the problem.

Back in the 1950’s Detroit was built upon the motor industry, and as a result the vast majority of household’s had a band new car on their drive.  Come a Saturday morning the bonnet would be buffed,  the wing mirrors shined and family photos would be taken next to it. As a result of the families income being earned from the motor industry, there was a massive sense of pride to be associated with it, and it was held in high esteem.  Kids dreamed of following their fathers into the car factories, and people spent 20,30 or 40 years in the same jobs, creating incredible economic stability.  In the 1970s and 1980s the US government decided that it would be better to export these jobs to cheaper labour markets in an effort to “economise,” to save more money in the short term,  and as a result the factories declined, jobs in the factories became more scarce, less consistent and less prestigious, and the city’s fortunes took a nosedive that matched the output of it’s car factories.

The city hit a crossroads: is the motor industry worth investing in?  They decided that it was not, and with it a whole generation of workforce was wiped out. Within years unemployment was rife, crime rocketed and the city’s soul was ripped out.  In 2014 the decision was taken that whatever money was spent on the city should be spent on ripping down buildings to prevent the risk of squatting. At exactly the time it needed rebuilding the most, the bulldozers moved in. Detroit, for years known as the “Motor City” had abandoned the very thing that the city had been built upon, the auto-mobile, and as usually happens when the foundations are ripped out, the city fell down.

Peel

Many people have used London as the bedrock of their development, but naturally London does not have the same dependence on music that Detroit had on the motor industry.   However, it would be naïve to disregard the massive contribution that the music industry has made to London’s coffers as chump-change. Areas such as Brixton, Notting Hill and Hoxton have been able to attribute at least a part of their development to their vibrant music scenes, and there is no doubt in the part that music plays in the UK’s  economic growth, and yet this is being eroded at a staggering rate.  With the amount of venues that are being closed down, the rising cost of living, and the concentration of the population of London ever increasing,it seems that the future of London and the future of the music industry just do not mix.

When bands get huge London is happy to reap the rewards for that success, but it is not willing to help bands reach that stage.  It is happy to take the hundreds of millions of pounds of economic boost that the gigs in Hyde Park bring with them, yet they put restrictions in place that means that power to the sound board is cut while Paul McCartney and Brice Springsteen are having a jam in front of 60,000 people –  in case some neighbours are disturbed. It is an act that is as symbolic as it is inflammatory,  and it shows how the council and authorities do not even attempt to hide the contempt that they holds the music industry in.  They simply take the benefits without giving anything back, much like a parasite.  As a result, the capital will be financially richer, but an infinitely poorer place to live.

Every day we see bands working hard, trying to do what they can to make great music, and hopefully create the next generation of a successful music industry. It is just a shame that the local authorities in London are not putting in the same effort, and that the mainstream music media is not doing their part to make sure that the issue is addressed to the extent that it should be.

Astoria_theatre_london_oct_2008
Massimo Zeppetelli works at Bally Rehearsal Studios in Tottenham Hale. This article was written by the founder, Jimmy Mulvihill. Part 2 is coming soon!

Zassimo

Massimo is a musician, producer, photographer, writer, footballer, cyclist and someone who loves computers and all things technological ever since he owned an Amiga. So basically a geek.
He works at the quirky Bally Rehearsal Studios in Tottenham, North London where many of the bands mentioned on Fresh on the Net come to rehearse.
Massimo lives in a hospital. You can find him on Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram, and at massimozeppetelli.co.uk.

18 Comments

  1. Great article Massimo :-)

    You are so right! But so long as the world keeps turning, people will make, perform and want to watch live music, so though I agree that rising costs and spiraling property prices are suffocating London for Londoner’s who (like myself) crave the old places. There is little to be done to stop the tidal march and influence of new money in to the Capital. If we just ‘let things be’ for a while it is possible that the cycle will continue and a empty soleless Capital will once again breed many of the great little back street venues we all love to remember. The unpleasant, but I think unlikely alternative, is that London will morph in to the biggest and most boring gated community in the world! If your in a hurry for a change though, get out of the smoke and pile down to the West Country. The Bristol, and surrounding scene is now very reminiscent of my ‘Pub Rock’ haunts of the late seventies :-) Only a lot friendlier :-D Keep on doing what you do and hanging with ‘like’ folk and all will be fine my friend! :-D

    xo HH

    Obviously sign all relevant petitions as well!

  2. Fantastic piece, and, I completely agree with you on the issues outlined and how heartbreaking those venue closures are. I would love to see a political party make arts and culture part of their manifesto to the electorate I really would. I’m a novelist and my debut Gunshot Glitter is seeped in music. So many venues have closed that influenced the vibe of that story, I fell in love with many up and coming bands in places such as The Luminare and Madame Jojos, it makes my head spin that a venue like The 12 Bar is no more, it deserved a heritage plaque not demolition.

  3. Thank you for the positive responses and for reading the whole post :-)

    Herbert – you’re right, I think there will be a cycle. But first London will have to become so stale and dreary. I have indeed been tempted by Bristol and also Liverpool! I found Liverpool to be so friendly, welcoming and with a great music scene.

    Yasmin, The Luminaire was actually my favourite venue in London. I was absolutely gutted when it closed. One with such a respectful ethos for musicians.

  4. Massimo, I remember the sign near the bar! The one that told peeps to shut up and listen to the bands in no uncertain terms! It was brilliant. And their loos with all those band posters was amazing. That place had so much character :) I saw a band called Hush The Many ( Heed The Few) play there, the singer of which (Nima Tehranchi) now fronts Arrows of Love, who I can see have used your studio.

  5. Adam J. Qüæck/Titus Monk

    Some great points here. Good article. It astounds and terrifies me that London’s scene is suffering. What hope does the rest of the (often ignored) country have if the capital is failing at the key and basic points? Cardiff & Glasgow I do know to be thriving but Manchester.. Well the Night & Day is fighting to stay open, what does that say about the scene there?

    Do you think that perhaps the reason there is so much apathy towards the up and coming, the future generation of musicians and artists this country has to offer is because of the internet and how easy it is to “get music out there”? Is there a big blind spot or perhaps collective misconception from the music industry at the moment with regards a band’s ability to be independent and successful? Can they honestly think we have it too easy cause we may have a bandcamp page?

    I don’t know, I can’t quite figure it out, the mentality that is. I’m aware that record sales have plummeted in recent years due to streaming etc. I’m aware the beast is changing. But what is the cure? If there needs to be one at all? Perhaps an age of enlightenment is required? God knows, I’m rambling now.

    I just get the distinct impression that more and more people are sitting at home listening to soundcloud & spotify (because it’s so easy and convenient) than going out to watch live music, venues are becoming more and more unlikely/unwilling to part ways with cash, or anything that even resembles a wage. And what use is it having your music heard if you can’t put bread on the table?

    The industry is a strange place to be at the moment, I don’t honestly think anyone knows what’s going on. There are polarised positives and negatives that’s for sure.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and much love.

  6. Jim

    A fascinating (if worrying) read. The odd thing is that London feels a lot more busy and vibrant than it did 10-15 years ago, and that’s in the cultural areas, not just the building sites. That has pushed up the cost of being in London though, from living to performing (and everything in between), hence the pressure on venues etc, which is a concern.

    As for great new artists making a breakthrough it’s probably always been hard, but as least with places like soundcloud, and music sites like Fresh on the Net, there are more ways for artists to reach an audience, and for music lovers to help spread the word about great new musicians. Here’s hoping that in the coming years though, the London based ones are able to perform not just virtually, but on a stage too!

  7. tony koorlander

    Great thought provoking article. As one who gigged in the early 1960s..came to work in Central London in 1969…and loved the small venues..the huge diversity..the camaraderie…and the reasonable income of the era..it is no surprise to see the disproportionate mess of our economy today ruining the life of our culture and great live music explosion. We are looking at a disinterest spawned by short term home entertainnent values. The lack of free cash in the pocket…reducing number of full venues. All tied in to a myopic misdirection of our young society by inept and absurd government policies over the last 50 years. The picture is not one of anything else than lack of disposable income and fear of something indefinable set loose by repeated government publicity about terrorist threat levels. People still go to live music events..but they don’t have the money to do it so much..especially if living in overpriced London. The super rich..the bankers…the government..have all screwed so much out of our economy that we are in a strapdown scenario. The fatcats have created thin peasants…. so sad..so frustrating..so predictable.

  8. Joan

    Informative, thought provoking, depressing. And – sorry – bit of a whinge. Wish you’d included some recommendations. What could we do? Absolutely right about the absence of media and government/political support. What to do? What’s the musicians union doing? Do copywrite laws need to be changed, how? Won’t hurt to write to MPs. You are so right that the UK/London benefited hugely from the success of the music industry in the past and could in the future. Unfortunately, the best bet might be to enter the discouse the system understands: economics.
    Looking forward to part 2….

  9. Hey Zassimo,

    That’s a really great article. I’m an independent music producer/sound engineer working with independent bands, and I can really see that all happening. The governors are interested in another agendas, which is definitely not about the music. They don’t see the heritage that music creates and all of them started from small venues like that. How can new bands brake through if there’s no support?
    I’m working with this band who I really think that can break through, but it’s impressive how much struggle they’re going through. I want to record a proper EP with that but it comes out very difficult to do that. They have no money at all, so how to make that happen? Can I go to my landlady and say ” Hey Ms. Giorgi, I have no money to pay the rent thing month, but I’m recording a great band, and once they make it I can pay you the rent back!” ??? I have a production room in Hackney, and it cost a small fortune to afford my flat and a room. And guess what’s happening in june? The warehouse will turn into flats. Yes, and it’s happening all the way around over here.
    We need to unite ourselves, we need to show the local authorities how important this issue is.
    Please get in contact if you wanna discuss things further, I’m happy to help somehow.

  10. Steve

    Interesting and thought provoking article but maybe we should be asking ourself does London need to be the centre of the music business ? In fact with the advent of the Internet do we actually need a geographical centre ? Isn’t this just another symptom of the online revolution which has swept through the traditional music business ?

  11. Tom

    Fair point well made, Steve.

  12. Hi Massimo

    brilliant article (and I’ve only read part 1 so far) – really well written and coherent.

    Last year my daughter did a brief 10 day tour in Germany. She’s not known at all there, and had been invited out by a German duo to share gigs with them. These were all ‘small, local’ gigs, the kind that in the UK a band would end up losing money from and perform to a handful of people. She was amazed at what she experienced there. Little local gigs sponsored by banks, yes sponsored by banks; good audiences, mostly middle aged (not sure where the younger ones were -same problem of costs?), really generous and even grateful to have an artist come from the UK. Accomodation opportunities provided. And, apart from one, venue managers who were grateful to the artists too for bringing their unique talents to their venue. All this was helped of course by performing with a German band.

    As a duo they ended up making close to 1500 euros gross – which less travel costs etc probably left them with a few hundred for the 10 days, plus they got to tour. They’d do nothing like that in London as an unknown band these days. The German duo wanted us to provide a return tour for them, and I had to explain to them how the UK just doesn’t value music in the same was and that financially it couldn’t work until they were both much more established. And I just heard from a friend of mine that his daughter, a University student and fiddle player, has just turned down 10,000 Euros worth of gig work in Germany over the summer because she has to leave for study in Sweden.

    I’m not saying for one minute that the Germans have got it all all right because I don’t know enough about the scene there. But my little glimpse of that territory, seen through the eyes of my daughter’s experience, tells me that there is an attitude of gratitude, respect and reverence for young musicians there that just doesn’t seem to exist any more here in the places where it needs to. They seek to support their artists and musicians in a way which opens up opportunities and encourages young people to be creative, because they know it makes their society richer in every sense.

    This is absolutely about a society’s values; and from what I can see the ‘powers-that-be'(whoever they may be!) in the UK seem to have forgotten that the ENCOURAGEMENT and DEVELOPMENT of young artists (in whatever artistic domain) is an incredibly important value to nurture as part of a healthy and thriving economy. We, as people who seek to nurture and encourage those very same young artists, maybe also need to band together more to say ‘THIS IS NOT OK’.

    Thanks again for writing this,

    Barry

  13. Ryan

    Jeeeesus,

    I was hoping London would be different. I’ve been a professional drummer in Dallas, TX for over ten years and I’m finally having to go back to school cause I just can’t survive on music anymore.

    I think people now just want to stay home, especially if they have young kids (married 30’s and 40’s) and would rather hook up and dance if they’re 20 singles people even though guys really don’t like to dance – girls do so….lol. And youtube, jeeesus, why go OUT to see music when 12 entire Chili Peppers concerts are on their computer?

    In Dallas there’s still original venues but they’re not very busy. For downtown Dallas for example no one wants to drive for half an hour, pay for parking, then a cover charge, to see a band they don’t know. There are other venues around and there’s some good bands, but the whole ‘how many people can you bring’ thing is so common I laughed when I read that same comment coming from across the pond. Bars don’t want to promote, maybe because the owners are often tired alcoholics (k I’m kidding, kinda, that’s the soundmen..k kidding again…kinda)

    Anyway I wish you guys the best and I think in cities it’s just so hard. For example, in Dallas surrounding suburbs (which are large cities themselves) it’s all cover band bars, because people want to go hear music they know…and once again, dance. But the artists aren’t really connected with the community.

    Music and art is definitely not connected with city planning here either. But the communities themselves aren’t planned around community. There’s no neighborhood barbeques, there’s no weekly local art and music events, there’s maybe one ‘thing’ that happens in a year in each city, but it’s often just a cover bands, yet again. Every house has a 7 or eight foot fence, no one talks to each other. There’s just groups of houses, and then a strip mall, a grocery store, etc. They’re building a multi-multi million dollar Dallas Cowboys practice place thingy in Frisco where I live but there’s no venue for original music, at least not bands….maybe quiet instrumental music while people ignore you and drink wine, but no bands. But there’s a new movie on Netflix and a new entire Snow Patrol concert on youtube when they get home so…

    I tend to think we need more of a sense of community, and plan our communities towards connecting with others, and more of a village mentality. I often feel very disconnected in my own neighborhood from, anything. I think we don’t realize what we’re missing by cutting out arts, one of the main things that can bring people together and give areas their own special identity.

    K gotta go feed my kids but thanks for the post, hope the situation gets better, because we might be moving there soon for my wife’s job so….maybe literally see you later ha!

  14. Great article. Very informative.

    I am one of the Greens mayoral candidates for London 2016 and am very interested in hearing from people who have an opinion on this issue.

    It’s a scandal to know the property market is destroying the live music scene.

    Probably, after the last venue’s closed, Londoners will lament the fact they didn’t do more to save a crucial part of what makes London one of the greatest cities on the planet.

    Maybe there’s a song to be written about this? Anyway, please get in touch.

    Rashid Nix

    http://www.rashidnix.com

  15. As a musician myself I can’t help but agreeing with this article. It’s never been easy to work in the arts but I do get the feeling that things are getting harder and harder. And having toured in Europe and the states the situation is simply not the same abroad. It’s actually getting to the point were I’m thinking of relocating to Europe… sad times indeed.

  16. Tummy O

    To Ryan’s reply!

    You are so right about everything you said!
    …I walked about two or three hours today in zone 2, London, and not once did I come across a bench to sit down to rest my legs. Not once, did I see a park that was not gated. This city is so unwelcoming, feels like you’re in one giant prison.

    I’ve recently relocated to London as a musician and feel that I’ve made a mistake. I might just make my way to Germany.

    (And Massimo’s article is so very true too)

  17. Dabishop

    No offense, but talking about the pressure to make money 100% misses the point about rock’n’roll and the counterculture foundation that the postmodern music business was built on.

    It was not just about music. It was about fashion, politics, journalism, agriculture… everything. It was not about money or the “bottom line”, it was about escaping from the urban rat race of all work no play, and “working for the man”.

    What we are seeing is a culture of material, social and economic oppression ruled over by the likes of goldman Sachs.

    Preventing people from gathering or expressing themselves is part of the rat race system of control. Monopolies over the ability to make money out of the mass media have given way to a perverse Internet business model, where corporate telcos share precisely ZERO revenue from the ISP subscriptions and also perform outright surveillance on Internet users under “anti-terrorism” laws.

    In all honesty protesting that bands are having a hard time surviving is missing the bigger picture of what has happened to all independent businesses and culture at large.

    Co-opted, censored, priced out. The grassroots are being killed off across the board. Most of the big recording studios got shut down and “redeveloped” a decade back.

    Social housing sold off. Squatting (and squat parties) made a criminal offense. Draconian venue licensing laws. CCTV.

    Snow patrol karaoke on the X factor is the problem? Oh it is *far* more serious than that. We are talking mental and material enslavement of anybody who isn’t a billionaire, for the profit of the billionaires.

    The super-yacht industry is booming, as is the private plane industry.

    Hedge funds, private offshore investment, “rental portfolios” political lobbying…

    And Donald Trump as president of the USA.

    It started in the ’80s. It is global.

    You might complain as a Londoner, saying “hey… my nightlife has suffered and the hehe artists are so stretched they can’t make art”.

    But then look at the state of a polluted manufacturing city in China, or a tantalum mine in Brazil, or the state of the middle east’s crude oil fields.

    That is the real problem. The artists of the developed world have to shut up. In order that they don’t get ideas above their station about criticising the horrendous exploitation of people and natural resources by a ruthless minority of unaccountable militarised billionaires working without political or public oversight, backed up by ignorant suited armies of expendable office workers chasing each month’s salary pushing paper without a clue of the violence and oppression denoted by the flickering numbers.

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