Let’s make live music good for all.
I write this in a hurry. My ears and eyes still ringing from an incredible show by Coldplay in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff last night. I’m back to the venue in just a few minutes, to attend a brilliant new initiative called Talks On Tour where Coldplay’s live agent, promoter and some of their technical team will talk to a gathering of 100 young people, aged 14–24, who are looking to get into the music industry.
Coldplay arrived in Cardiff last night 17 years since they last played in the City, at Cardiff University Students Union as part of Radio 1 Live in Cardiff. A year previous I’d seen them on an event smaller stage, in Clwb Ifor Bach, as their debut headline UK tour sold out on the release of their new single, ‘Yellow’.
Clwb Ifor Bach took to social media to remind us about that show all those years ago. It’s important to remember that these Stadium fillers had once been a much smaller proposition, using venues like Clwb Ifor Bach to help establish an audience.
It was discussed this week in UK Music’s new WISH YOU WERE HERE report, where the work we do with Sŵn was cited and included, and much mention was made about the important of grassroots venues.
But here’s the rub. Today I’m also trying to pay attention to my news feed as a debate is held in the Welsh Assembly about proposed amendments to planning legislation in order to introduce Agent Of Change Principle. Adoption of this measure will help protect grassroots venues against future planning developments in adjacent and nearby properties where complaints from new builds in regard to noise lead to venue closures. This has, in part, been triggered by threats to Clwb Ifor Bach, and other venues, in Womanby Street. This, too, following the closure of both Four Bars and The Moon Club in Cardiff earlier this year.
The thing is, whilst we can all see that there’s a journey taken for bands between playing in venues like Clwb Ifor Bach and on to venues like the Principality Stadium, there’s absolutely no economic benefit between the struggles of the small venue and the success of Arena and stadium events.
Let’s do some quick maths. 64,000 people. £70 or so a ticket. 8000 hotel rooms sold out. Train fares. Taxis. Buses. Parking. Food. Drink. A meal beforehand. Merchandise. Two nights. I’m sure there’s an Economic Impact report being generated somewhere, but I’m in a hurry right now. Let’s guess at £12million.
So you’d think, wouldn’t you, that there’d be some mechanism, some trickle down, between this wonderful, massive moment in the stadium, and the struggling grassroots venues that are there when bands are starting out. Some framework where, somehow, a little bit goes back to help the next round of bands wanting to come through.
But there isn’t.
I’ve been thinking about this. A lot. For three years in fact as we promote shows and festivals in grassroots venues in Cardiff and beyond. Gathering data and ideas, whilst hoping the industry would look at this issue and fix it itself. It hasn’t. But I’ve some ideas now of how we can do it and make it good for all. Let’s make it so.