London's live music scene perseveres as closures stalled for the first time in nearly a decade

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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London needs to do more to save its music scene
London needs to do more to save its music scene (Source: Getty)

London's smaller music venues persevered in 2016 as the number of grassroots venues remained stable for the first year since 2007, new figures show.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has worked to build the industry, called the news a “major step towards rebuilding London’s live music scene”.

A new progress report shows London has lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues since 2007, which it defined as those with cultural and social importance among other qualities.

Today, the City has just 94 independent venues, which contribute £91.8m per year to London's economy and support 2,260 full-time jobs.

The report by the London Music Board shows there is still much to be done in order to sustain the capital as a music powerhouse.

Recommendations on how to put a stopper in venue closures and encourage new openings include implementing business rate relief, creating specific planning policies, developing "Music Zones", cutting licensing requirements and promoting music in tourism campaigns.

Khan appointed Amy Lamé as London's Night Czar in November to champion the night time economy. He said, "Grassroots venues are the foundation of our successful music industry. We’ve taken positive steps to address some of the challenges facing grassroots music venues, but there’s still much to be done."

Read more: Who is Amy Lamé? All you need to know about Sadiq Khan's first night czar

Lamé said: "Although these first signs of recovery are encouraging, it’s important to recognise that more work needs to take place to secure the future of the capital as a centre for music.

"Over the coming months, I look forward to publishing my vision for a 24-hour city, and taking further steps to protect venues across the capital."

Every night, nearly 14,000 people attend a gig at a grassroots music venue, and the report says the industry supports a wider community, as for every £10 spent on tickets to these venues in London, £17 is spent on nearby food, drink and transport.

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