After months of rollercoaster restrictions, live music venues are trialing a variety of methods to prevent closure.
Sam Fender’s gig at the Newcastle Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 13th looked like a great start in the bid to return to live music. Over a month later, any thought of a gig in the Newcastle area is clouded by the latest local restrictions and economic feasibility.
The new ‘rule of six’ may only be implemented in ‘corona-secure’ environments, leaving music venues with a number of restrictions. However, the latest Government rules in England state that if a music or theatre act starts before 10pm, then the performance can run over the deadline that has been set for the hospitality industry.
Pathing the way forward in Sheffield, the Leadmill opened its doors for an Alvarez Kings gig. Those who wished to view the performance had to buy tickets online, and watch the local band broadcast live from the Leadmill stage. It looks as though live-streamed concerts, whereby gig-goers must buy tickets online and watch from their own homes, are going to become increasingly more common.
In Norfolk, Hifields showed us how festivals could be able to go ahead, albeit on a much smaller scale. The capacity for Hifields mini-fest was 250, as groups of two, four and six descended onto the site near Thetford Forest. Day tickets for the 19th September understandably sold out as the socially distanced festival goers took in some much-missed live music.
In Kent, Rock the Mote has sold out of most of its socially distanced pods. Tribute acts from across the UK will perform to punters across two days, starting on 25th September in Mote Park, Maidstone. A pod costs approximately £11 per person at Rock the Mote, with a single pod for 6 people being the maximum.
Despite many venues dealing with the present situation, some campaigns are planning for the future. Online, the Save Our Venues campaign has launched ‘Passport: Back to Our Roots’. Save Our Venues say that the initiative ‘is a nationwide series of one-off intimate gigs by the UK’s biggest artists, supporting the independent grassroots venues that form the foundations of the UK’s live music scene’. The artists involved include Pet Shop Boys, Jamie XX, Metronomy and KT Tunstall.
The dates of all shows under the scheme are to be confirmed when social distancing is no longer needed. The key point is that the £5 donation to the campaign goes to grassroots venues now, as investment is desperately needed.
It is no secret that the music industry is struggling during the pandemic, and venues need to think creatively to cultivate engagement. Promoting livestreams, pods and mini festivals is a great way to attract customers, spinning such a difficult situation into a positive movement forward.
Words by Sam Gilder
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