How real estate can redefine the value of music venues

The live music industry has been one of the most badly affected in the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Given the risk of large groups meeting in enclosed spaces, these businesses were the first to close and, for many of them, the last to reopen.

Grassroots music venues, those with a 1,500-person capacity that host a minimum of three concerts per week, have been challenging businesses to run for years. High costs leave businesses relying on ancillary uses, such as brand launches and private rentals to survive. More than a third of music venues have closed since 2007. If we switch to nightclubs, venues that predominantly feature DJs, the number rises to 50%. It’s a tough business.

The viability calculation on a grassroots music venue will produce a negative. The band on stage is a conduit, not a profit centre. Their presence facilitates a wide range of economic and social activity, from selling alcohol to training a student on how to market an event or budget for it. The Mayor of London estimates that for every £10 ticket sold in London in one of these venues, a further £17 is spent nearby on food, drink or transport. Yet few protections are offered to those who make their living in them. Musicians, artists and the self-employed have been left out of most government support. So much for valuing them.

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