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Music industry representatives tell MPs they would back the idea of a fan-led inquiry into grassroots music venues, similar to that seen in football.

A man performing on stage at a small music venue

Dilated Time/Creative Commons

Leaders from across the UK’s music industry have backed the idea of a fan-led inquiry into grassroots music venues during an evidence session with the government’s Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Select Committee.

Witnesses answered questions from MPs in the committee’s first evidence session, held yesterday (26 March), for their inquiry into the ongoing crisis facing grassroots music venues. Those who were asked if they would support such an inquiry said they would.

MPs suggested the review could take a similar shape to the fan-led review of football governance, which was announced by the government in April 2021. A white paper was published in February 2023, which reflected the majority of the review's recommendations, with work now underway to enshrine an independent football regulator into law.


Unity on the concept comes amid divisions within the industry over the most appropriate way to support grassroots music venues.  Music Venues Trust (MVT) is pushing for the introduction of a ticket levy, add £1 onto ticket sales for major events with themoney going towards a fund to support venues.

John Drury, Chair at National Arenas Association (NAA), claimed that if arena-sized venues gave £1 for each ticket sale, it would be equivalent to 20% of some venues’ profit for the year. He added that an additional £1 onto a ticket “is not the way” because “that's extra to the customer”, but said “we’ve got the wherewithall within the industry” to find a solution.

Drury says the favoured option between arena members would be the Enter Shikari model, which saw the band volunteer to donate £1 of their ticket sales to their Wembley gig to MVT. 

He said Wembley, of which he is General Manager, then matched funds as a “gesture from our side”.

In response, MVT Chief Executive Mark Davyd said NAA members “almost have to not object to it as much as they have to campaign for it”.

“What we need is a consensus of consent. We need everybody you're going to see today to say ‘yes, we’re going to try and make this happen collectively’.”

Davyd added that a £1 ticket on every ticket at arena and stadium level is “incredibly easy to do”.

“And we have done it multiple times for different reasons and either everybody consented to it in order to sustain the profitability or the sustainability of our arenas or the tour or the promoters. I see no reason at all why we can't do it for our ecosystem for our grassroots music venues. I think it's incredibly easy to do, I’m not quite sure why it’s taking us so long,” Davyd said.

Stuart Galbraith, Vice-Chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said he would prefer to see a VAT reduction on gig ticket prices, but added he would do this for venues with less than 1,000 capacity only.

“That way you will stimulate live shows at that level. You will see more shows played at those venues. You will see those venues become less loss making and you will see less closed,” he said.

‘Fund artists too’

Kwame Kwaten, Vice Chair of the Music Managers Forum and David Martin, Chief Executive of the Featured Artists Coalition, voiced support for a ticket levy, but said funds should be directed to artists and managers as well as music venues.

“That fan-artist relationship is what everybody else is based on. We need to put funding in the hands of artists. They're the tastemakers, they're the music creators, they're the audience developers,” Martin said.

“I fully support the rest of the ecosystem being supported, but too frequently artists and music makers are not supported.”

Both Kwaten and Martin, alongside vocalist from the band English Teacher, Lily Fontaine, agreed that any levy should be compulsory rather than voluntary.

At the start of the hearing, CMS Committee Chair Caroline Dinenage said grassroots music venues are closing at a rate of more than two a week, with more than a third currently making a loss.

She said the committee will now work on a written report setting out its recommendations for the industry, which is expected before the end of the year.