UK Music Venues Are On ‘Brink of Collapse’ As Attendance, Income Suffer Double-Digit Declines, Study Says

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Fans enjoy a show at Brighton, England’s Concorde 2. Photo Credit: Joseph Pearson

Grassroots music venues are on the “brink of collapse” in the wake of the UK government’s “Plan B” announcement, according to the Music Venue Trust (MVT), with the new limitations and requirements “placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.”

The seven-year-old venue advocate made these and other discouraging statements in a formal release, which was shared with DMN. Drawing from a recent survey of 284 UK venue owners – who were asked specifically about operations between December 6th and December 13th – said release indicates that 86.3 percent of grassroots music venues (GMVs) “have been negatively impacted by the public’s response to Omicron.”

79.2 percent of grassroots live-entertainment establishments “saw an increase in no shows” – with an average no-show hike of 23.1 percent, for an estimated 142,772 ticketholders who failed to attend events on the week, per the breakdown. Concert no-shows resulted in an estimated $1.14 million (£859,386) revenue loss for the Music Venue Alliance’s 918 member GMVs.

Predictably, given the disconcerting attendance stats, the document states that 74.3 percent of respondent music venues saw a decrease in advance ticket sales across the seven-day stretch, with an average decline of 27 percent.

Also, 60.9 percent of participating music venues “had to cancel at least one event” throughout the week in question. 35.6 percent of the cancellations occurred because of “a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for” the bug, against 31.3 percent for “private hire bookings” that organizers canceled (“especially Christmas Parties”) and 23.6 percent for “poor sales performance.”

More pressingly, 76.4 percent of UK grassroots music venues suffered a decrease in gross income during the week-long survey period, with an average gross revenue falloff of 27.1 percent, according to the analysis.

Estimating once again for all 918 of the Music Venue Alliance’s member GMVs, said gross income loss came in at $2.57 million (£1.94 million) during the week. Besides the aforementioned $1.14 million attributable to no-shows, the MVT highlighted $720,300 (£543,199) in lost revenue from “downturn in walk ups and as a result of cancellations (potential ticket and bar spend),” as the remaining $710,777 (£536,017) derived from the “total weekly decrease in advance ticket sales.”

Addressing the less-than-ideal situation in a statement, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd relayed in part: “It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it.

“This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the Secretary of State to act quickly,” he continued.

4 Responses

  1. You break you buy

    Playing live in 2021 was a crap chute and we all know it.

  2. Kukla

    Isn’t this the same headline that was used in a story mid-2020? They’re still on the brink after government bailout assistance? Cmon, something has to give here.

  3. Johnny

    You have to be out of your mind to go anywhere near this new music business, with free music and almost no gigs followed by COVID. A majority of PRO musicians have already quit this “you should all work for free” business and a big thanks to all the wonderful music fans out there who want great music but have no intention of paying for it! And then they complain about all the crap music on the radio, LOL! Hey go get your music on Youtube and Spotify and help destroy a once healthy business, and just think when all these old bands are dead and gone, what will be left?? No wonder the venues are all closing!