Wednesday, 2 September 2015

#SaveLondonMusic - why we need music venues

The future for London music studios?
Creative industries add £8 million an hour to the UK GDP. This is an area where the UK is an undisputed world leader. Whilst the clothes you wear, the TV you watch and the car you drive is likely to be made in a different country or even continent, the chances are that wherever you go in the world, the music you will hear will have been made in the UK. Recently Joy Beverley died, one of the Beverley Sisters. These were the first female UK artists to have a charting record in the USA.  At the time, this was seen as hugely novel for UK artists to enter the U.S. Charts. Now it is seen as unusual, even a failure if a successful UK act fails to do well in the USA.

It is not just the USA though, every continent rocks to the beat of the UK and London is the heart of this. Sadly the huge value of this contribution is not recognised and even worse, the whole sector is under attack. Property developers are gobbling up sites used by rehearsal and recording studios, for luxury flats. Landlords, seeking to cash in on the London property boom are selling up, displacing long established businesses. Pubs and clubs that host up and coming artists are being forced to close, often being bulldozed without planning permission by greedy developers seeking to maximise profits. Areas made trendy by the great venues and nightlife get overrun by yuppie types, attracted by the edgy area, but soon they decide that they value early nights more and complain about the noise and disruption associated with the very things which attracted them. Building new studios is almost impossible, as local authorities planning departments do not understand the business, fail to recognise the benefits and put all manner of needless barriers in the way.

As someone who runs a studio and promotes gigs, I see just how difficult this is becoming. Our studio business is booming. We are in the lucky position of having a new building and security of tenure. As other studios are forced out of business, we see regular customers arriving from ever further flung parts of London. Whilst this is great for us in the short term, it is terrible for the creative industries of London and ultimately bad for us all. That is why we've launched the #SaveLondonMusic campaign. We believe that protection for studios and music venues is vital. The government passed green belt laws to protect open spaces as these are good for the country. Decrepit old palaces of the mega rich get Grade 1 listed protection too scare off developers. The case for safeguarding our musical heritage is equally compelling. It is truly unbelievable just how little we value our rock and roll heritage. You would think the English Tourist board would be fighting the corner, given the huge global interest, but not a bit. You'd think George Osborne would be investing, as the returns are massive. Not a bit of it. The case for preserving our heritage is compelling on every possible measure, but no one seems to be listening.

We are in the process of building a website. On Friday 18th September, we are staging a local gig at the Midland Hotel, by Hendon Thameslink Station. The gig kicks off at 8pm and we'll have several great local bands. If you are interested in supporting the campaign, please come down.

We also have a full campaign launch planned for Friday 6th November at the Fiddlers Elbow in Camden. We are working to get a great line up for this gig. Watch this space...

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