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Saving independent venues: ‘It is a challenge for the entire industry’


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The whole music industry should be throwing its weight behind independent venues’ struggle to survive, according to Ana Rodriguez, co-chair of international managers body the IMMF.

Speaking at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference today, she called on fans and industry entities alike to support local venues.

“The most important thing about them is the cultural impact on local communities, and the role they have as foundations for talent, and a launchpad for acts that get to be known globally,” she said.

“Their future remains uncertain, and this really makes me nervous, because for a band to develop their audience, and to get experience… with their show, they need to be on stage during the early days. There is no shortcut for this part of the process.”

“Even for the biggest music industries with massive festivals and successful international promoters, it is necessary that these independent spaces exist. It is essential that live music venues function as incubators for new acts.”

Covid-19 has seen venues closed for six months already, and while in some places they’re reopening with limited capacities, it’s still a hugely challenging time.

“This really involves complex rescue ideas, and I really think it is a challenge for the entire industry. Can you imagine what will happen if most venues in our towns close for good? Local economies will be affected,” she continued.

“And if we talk about the impact of permanent closing on the music ecosystem, things get scarier, because we’re talking about artists, managers, agents, stagehands, the whole production industry, media, advertising, record companies, publishers. Everyone will be affected!”

What can be done? Rodriguez called for music fans to go to the websites of their local venues to see if they have a fundraising campaign, and if so, to support it.

She also encouraged anyone with the ability to talk to policymakers in their country to let them know about their concerns for independent venues – especially in countries that don’t have a specific lobbying association for the sector.

“We need to pay attention to live venues, independent clubs and community theatres because they are truly the lifeblood for the whole music ecosystem. In simple words, music cannot inspire future generations if we keep losing independent venues.”

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Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global is taking place online this week, with two hours of talks and panels every day starting at 3pm BST (4pm CEST / 10am EDT / 7am PDT).

It’s broadcasting live on Zoom and – thanks to our sponsors Linkfire, Chartmetric and MQA – is completely free to access. You can see the agenda and register here.

Stuart Dredge

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