Live Music

Music Venue Trust calls for levy as report highlights threat to grassroots music

More than a third of UK grassroots music venues lost money in 2023 according to the Music Venue Trust’s (MVT) annual report.

A survey of the Music Venue Alliance’s (MVA) 835 members found that they staged over 187,000 events in 2023. Some 1.7m individual artist performances attracted audience visits of over 23.5m. However, despite generating over £500m in revenues and employing over 28,000 people, GMVs made just £2.5m or 0.5% profit for the period.

While there was an increased demand for tickets in 2023, 38% of venues reported a loss. Some 125 GMVs were closed during the year at a rate of two per week.

The MVT Annual Report 2023 contends that without a combination of grants and donations totalling £3.1m from its own Pipeline Investment Fund, Arts Council England and other bodies the whole sector would have operated at a loss during the period. In total, the amount that GMVs are subsidising live music rose from £79m in 2022 to £115m in 2023 – an increase of £36m or 45% over the previous 12 months.

MVT said the report “throws into sharp focus the contrast between those companies and artists at the top end of the live music sector currently enjoying record revenues and profits”. It therefore reiterated calls for a voluntary or mandatory levy to be paid by the most successful parts of the industry to support grassroots.

Manifesto commitments

Mark Davyd
Mark Davyd

Mark Davyd, MVT’s chief executive, said: “Enough is enough, this report speaks for itself and we will not allow this to continue. We must either find a way to act collectively to get these venues and the artists who rely on them the financial support they need to survive or we will seek legislation to compel it.

“The idea that we, as an industry, cannot voluntarily create a levy to support our grassroots sector, unilaterally and without government intervention is absurd but we cannot escape the fact that we are simply not acting fast enough. For that reason, Music Venue Trust is asking all of the main political parties for manifesto commitments ahead of the forthcoming General Election that state that there must be a contribution from the most successful parts of our industry into the grassroots research and development carried out on their behalf.

“It’s time to stop the excuses – we can no longer accept complacency from those in a position to help prevent the annihilation of our sector.”