“We’re at risk of losing our thriving live music industry for the next generation.” Bethan Sayed AM
Following news this week about the possible loss of yet another live music venue in Cardiff, Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the National Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee has called for more action to tackle the root cause and expressed concern about the impact on the industry in Wales.
Bethan Sayed's comments come after news that all staff at 10 Feet Tall in Cardiff resigned, stating that the directors have decided they no longer want to have live music and want to completely close down the basement venue, called Undertone. This follows the loss of other music venues in the capital, including Gwdihŵ and Buffalo, that closed in the past year.
The Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into the music industry in Wales and is hearing evidence from industry professionals, venues and artists about the challenges they face.
Bethan Sayed AM said:
"The loss of live music venues in Wales is deeply concerning. For the industry to thrive and for artists to grow, Cardiff and areas across Wales need venues. Our Committee has heard alarming statistics from UK Music who told us that the number of live music venues has declined by about 35% over the last decade. Closures have mainly been due to the increasing financial pressure faced by venue managers as a result of overhead costs, bill, rent and business rates, or due to planning disputes around noise.
"People get inspired by attending gigs and it's how they form connections with artists and are encouraged to take up music themselves.
"We've heard warm words from the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council about how they want to support the music industry and venues, but sadly these words are currently not resulting in action. Venues like 10 Feet Tall continue to close. I hope the newly formed Music Board can go some way to changing this.
"Our Committee is working hard to get to the bottom of why venues are closing and the challenges faced by businesses and artists. I want to extend the opportunity to both the staff, landlords and directors to contact me to discuss the issues and the possible loss of the live music provision.
"Music is in our blood in Wales and we are famous for being the land of song, but if the current trend continues there is a risk of losing our thriving live music industry for the next generation."
Rhys Carter and Samuel Kilby from Merthyr band, Valhalla Awaits added:
"We've lost a lot of good venues because society is changing and pubs are closing. People are going out less due to austerity too.
"You can't beat the excitement of going to gigs, there's a real power to it. When you're young it makes you think you could get up and do this too – we went to shows and now we're playing them ourselves. It made you think 'I'm going to get my own band together and get playing and writing'. It brings people together and it's good for your mental health because you get out and meet people – we've met friends for life. Being at a gig in a small venue is 'real music' – you're not standing at the back of a stadium and no technology can replace it.
"There's huge challenges for young artists, selling music as a physical product like a CD or record. Gone are the days of going to HMV now that everyone is streaming music online. Most bands only make their money from shows and merchandise.
"If we don't expose young people to shows in music venues then it will be difficult to inspire the next generation of artists."
The band were at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay today to contribute to the Committee's inquiry into the music industry in Wales. Also giving evidence were members from bands The Joy Formidable and Buffalo Summer. The meeting can be watched online at Senedd TV.
Ritzy Bryan from Mold band The Joy Formidable added:
"We can have robots making music but you can't replace original art and the sound of a band coming together – there will always be live music."